England & Wales Communities and society, Economy and regeneration

Do you know the community businesses on your doorstep?


Image from Istock (licence)

Charlotte Cassedanne from Power To Change explains how to get involved in Community Business Weekend this May.

Only three per cent of people surveyed in a recent poll thought local people had the most say over what happens in their area. Fifty-seven per cent of people believed, however, that power should lie with the local community.

We need local power in the hands of local people.

One part of the solution is community business; organisations rooted in a local area, run by and answerable to members of the community, and which make a trading profit to re-invest in doing more social good.

There are now nearly 7,000 community businesses in England, generating £1.2bn income in England.

Hundreds of thousands of us shop, visit or benefit from them directly but they are still relatively unknown. Yet community-led pubs, libraries, energy providers, shops, farms, transport, and others are transforming communities and helping councils deliver services they can no longer afford to.

In some cases, these businesses are the one ones to thrive where all else have failed; best-placed, as only local people can be, to know what their neighbourhoods need and what works when they come together and try.

That’s why Community Business Weekend (4-7 May 2018), the national open doors campaign celebrating community businesses, is so important.

It shines a light on these community-run gems that bring not only much needed services and spaces to a community, but boost local economies and reinvest the profits for the benefit of local people. And they demonstrate how local people can harness local power and improve where they live by setting up and running them themselves.

The Weekend offers a unique opportunity for local people to see behind the scenes, understand how they can get involved in running a business for community good and have a say in local matters. Last year the Weekend saw people trying out volunteering at a community-run vineyard, a mass community breakfast in an inner-city park and a community group raise enough community shares to save a Victorian railway pier.

In 2017, more than 150 independent events took place attracting nearly 12,000 visitors in total. And the Weekend helped local members and officers meet and reconnect with community businesses on their doorstep. In 2018, we hope even more will find out how they can support the community business movement during the Weekend.

Community Business Weekend runs from 4 to 7 May 2018 across England.

Find community businesses near you on www.communitybusinessweekend.org and support local people running a community business on Twitter using #CBwkd18 and @peoplesbiz.