With the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy recently launching its quest for evidence on the state of the British rural economy, we thought it only right to consider the important role rural community businesses play in this important area. Whether it’s transport, the provision of digital infrastructure or community-run pubs, rural community businesses are helping to meet local needs and address a range of challenging social issues.
Take Station House Community Connections in Campsea Ashe, Suffolk, which is helping to tackle isolation and keep its local community connected through the provision of high speed broadband. This once disused station house has now been renovated to include a café, a health and wellbeing space and events and meeting rooms. The building’s renovation has also rejuvenated the local area and provided a much-needed focal point for a community facing the challenges of rural isolation.
Another example is The Anglers Rest Pub in Bamford, Derbyshire, which is not only a pub at the heart of the village but also provides other essential services like a local post office and café. The pub is owned by the local community through a community share model so people feel a sense of pride and ownership in their local, and it also offers employment opportunities for community members.
Rural community businesses like these are helping to keep their local areas vibrant and dynamic places to live. They promote community engagement and cohesion and meet a range of local social needs which are less visible in rural settings than urban ones. Issues like deprivation and isolation as well as employment and skills are ones that the Select Committee are interested in hearing about and also ones which community businesses are delivering on.
So, if you run or work within a rural community business be sure to submit your evidence and share your important work with these key stakeholders. Community business offers an innovative model to improve the functioning of the rural economy, so let’s make sure we make our voices heard!