Community Business Weekend 2019

Community Business Weekend is fast approaching – it’s next weekend, and it runs from the 16th to 19th May.

While Community Pubs and Shops are often the poster children for Community Business, there is, in fact, a huge range of businesses, owned by and operated for the benefit of their communities. Have a look at the map of all the partcipating UK Community Owned Businesses – and read below about some of the Community Businesses we’ve supported, including sports facilities, wood recycling, and even a circus

Always happy when it rains, Sunart Community Renewables is a Community Benefit Society, west of Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland, generating energy from water. The opportunity was spotted in 2011, with a community share offer going live in 2014, and construction beginning in 2015. 95% of the local community supported the scheme, which has at its heart local control of this important local company, as was evidenced by the incredible £753,300 investment they raised from the community.

One of the first libraries to be sold off by a local council, Denton Community Library is now a member-owned library in Manchester. Residents swung into action quickly following a decision to close the library, forming the Friends of Denton West End Library in August 2012 ahead of the proposed closure date of October 2012. Then, in June 2013 the newly formed charity ‘Denton West End Community Library’ completed on the purchase of the building, and today it provides a complete library and community service, as it did before the closure, offering courses and classes including yoga, a community choir, computer classes and even kickboxing. Their opening hours include Friday and Saturday so why not pop along this Community Business Weekend?

Fancy some new shelves, furniture or a place to hang your wellies? Why not make your own with timber salvaged by Oxford Wood Recycling, or buy some they’ve made in house? Born from a desire to divert waste wood from landfill, and to provide employment and volunteering opportunities for those facing barriers to employment, members include the original founders, workers and volunteers. The team collect, sort and use waste wood – their furniture is made by their in house carpenters and it’s truly beautiful

Could there be a better place to spend Community Business Weekend in Kent than at one of Sencio Leisure facilities? This Community Benefit Society owns and operates three leisure centres and a golf course in and around Sevenoaks, Kent. Membership comes from staff, community members, and local authority members. If you’re looking to cool off in a pool or take a stroll with a putter, check them out.

Thinking about home improvements? Retrofit Works in London is a community of member tradespeople who wish to create a market for improvements to the UK’s existing housing stock to improve comfort, health and to reduce fuel poverty, energy bills and CO2 emissions. RetroFit develops and manages area-wide renovation schemes for domestic and social housing provider and three years ago, they hit a key milestone of having delivered £1m of RetroFit works to properties.

Frequently flying high, the aerial exploits of contemporary circus and social enterprise Organised Kaos, keep the people of South Wales – and increasingly, further afield – entertained. From its roots as a volunteer led Circus School in 2007, and now with membership from volunteers and service users, it has grown to become a real feature on the Arts calendar. They have performed at the Bearded Theory and Brecon Jazz festivals, business awards, and launches, including the Scarlets new kit, and of Google’s new office in Liverpool

Way down south in Cornwall, Community Benefit Society The Peninsular Trust is an energetic community organisation providing services to their community including affordable housing, workspaces for local businesses, a library, post office and more recently a pub. Within a year of deciding to start, they had 350 members – a huge 10% of the areas population.  Their offer is consistently driven by the needs that they, as the community identify and agree on. They now have over 600 members, with more joining every week

A weekend wouldn’t be complete without a cuppa and a piece of cake, and if you’re in Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, Bishopwearmouth Garden Centre will soon be the place to go to! On Christmas Eve 2018, the award winning nursery, 60% of whose workers have disabilities, completed the purchase of a property which it plans to convert into a traditional tea room. We can’t wait to visit!

Research suggests that every £10 spent with a local independent shop means up to an additional £50 goes back into the local economy so whatever you do this Community Business Weekend, be sure to support the independent, community focused businesses in your community.