Walk for Plunkett campaign launched to raise funds for community business charity

Sponsored walks, Three Peaks Challenge and walking holiday competition planned for charity fundraiser

Walk For Plunkett is the Plunkett Foundation’s flagship fundraising campaign that “invites anybody and everybody to get out into the great outdoors and walk some miles in aid of Plunkett,” said Gemma Sills, the organisation’s engagement manager. 

“People walk as far as they want to walk, whether it’s one mile, two miles, 25 miles, or more, and all the sponsorship money and donations raised through the campaign go towards supporting our core services for community businesses.”

This year’s campaign runs from 12-14 May.

Plunkett is a charity that helps rural communities in the UK to create and run community-owned businesses.

“We support over 730 community businesses across the UK,” added Sills. “That support can be at the initial stage, when people come up with the idea of saving their community pub, shop, farm, woodland, fishery or whatever it may be. Or it could be ongoing support, such as doing a share offer, setting up the governance, setting up the community business model structure, all the way through to purchasing, opening, trading and beyond.” 

This support is offered via training webinars, networking, study visits, or one to one advisor support that matches community businesses with the advisors according to what support they need.

Previous Walk For Plunkett events have raised between £5,000-£8,000, “but we’d love to raise more this year if we can,” said Sills. “The charity is 103 years old, but we’re new to fundraising, so we’re starting from the ground up!” She acknowledges it’s a “tricky time to be asking for money, but any amount really does make a difference”.

She added: “One of the beauties of community businesses is their long term survival rate of 96% and that is because of that background, ongoing continued consultation and support to enable them to keep that resilience going forward. So that’s what the money will help fund – that ongoing support to community businesses.”

“We’ve got somebody in Newport, South Wales, walking from one community pub to another and we’ve got somebody going across Dartmoor, calling into community pubs along the way. Community pubs are a very popular thing to do, but people are also walking national trails or just walking out in local areas.”

Plunkett CEO James Alcock (in the black and red coat) with representatives from Westbury Community Shop

One longstanding supporter of the campaign is Paul Jennings at the Fox at Loxley, a pub in Warwickshire that was bought by the local community with support from Plunkett. Jennings has completed sponsored walks the last two years dressed up as a fox. “Walking for Plunkett is my way of saying thank you for all the support Plunkett gave our community to save the Fox at Loxley,” he said. 

The Fox is surrounded by about eight other community businesses, which are all walking to the pub and celebrating with a barbecue at the end. 

Plunkett CEO James Alcock said that alongside raising funds, Walk for Plunkett is “about bringing communities together.”

He added: “It’s great to see that so many community groups across the UK are linking up with neighbouring communities to host their own walks. Anyone is welcome to join Walk for Plunkett, so we hope more people will be encouraged to get out over the 12 to 14 May and walk some miles for Plunkett – maybe even walking to their own local community-owned business too.”

As part of the campaign, Plunkett is co-ordinating the opportunity to take part in a sponsored Three Peaks Challenge attempt – ascending the three tallest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowden) in 24 hours.

And there is a less strenuous fundraising option too: Plunkett has teamed up for a prize draw with HF Holidays – a walking holiday co-operative – which has donated a three-night guided walking holiday at any one of its 16 UK country homes. Entry into the prize draw costs £10, with every £10 donation counting as one entry (open to UK entrants only).

“We’re delighted to be linking up with them this year,” said Sills. “It’s just another arm to supporting the campaign and raising awareness of what we’re doing. It’s a great example of co-operation among co-operatives too, a really lovely synergy.”

The campaign is running from 12-14 May, but walks are welcome outside these dates. For more information on the campaign, the Three Peaks Challenge opportunity and the prize draw, visit plunkett.co.uk/walk-for-plunkett/