What is Empowering Places?

This is a place-based funding programme in which we are working closely with six selected local organisations to help empower their local communities to develop community businesses.

We believe local people are the best people to shape services which will benefit the whole area. By harnessing the combined forces of all the players in an area, we believe that community businesses can start up, thrive and achieve positive change for their neighbourhoods, helping to reduce the inequalities felt by many communities across England.

In October 2016, we contacted a selection of catalyst organisations that met our criteria, in 20 of the most deprived places across England. We were seeking to target funding and resources towards places that looked ripe for community business – with the aim to boost local economies. In the early stages communities were given small Learning Grants to develop a deeper understanding of how community business could address the needs of their communities and map local assets and opportunities that could enable new community businesses to develop.

Over time we have narrowed our focus down to six ward level places based around a catalyst organisation – each will receive up to £1 million in funding and support over a period of up to five years (to July 2022) to help them to deliver their own five-year plan.


Alongside delivery partners (CUK, nef and CLES) and community businesses these catalyst organisations will help to create more connected and inclusive communities and improve the lives of the people who live there.

With our learning partners (Renaisi, MyCake and Close Up) we also want to demonstrate that, given the right conditions and support, community business can flourish and transform places, even in some of the most deprived areas of England.

Within the wider towns around these local areas we support our catalysts to connect up with other stakeholders to grow understanding of and support for community business. The six towns in which our Empowering Places programme operate are also Priority Places for Power to Change in which we seek to combine our resources from Open Funds, Market Development and the Research Institute to increase impact and boost support for community businesses – there is not, however, dedicated funding available to community businesses in these priority places outside of our open funding programmes.

Is it open for applications?
The programme is currently closed for applications.

Who can apply?
If you live in one of the Empowering Places programme places (see above) please get in touch with your local catalyst directly to see how you could get involved in creating new community businesses in your area and how they can support you.

Where can I find out more?
If you live in the towns where we are working, but outside of the local wards on which our catalysts focus, and have ideas for ways that collaboration between infrastructure providers, third and public sector and community businesses can be encouraged and supported, please get in touch: places@powertochange.org.uk


Bristol is home to a growing number of successful community businesses, like Bristol Ferry Boats. It is a diverse city which, despite its prosperity is also home to some of the most deprived areas in England, with particular inequality across the city in terms of education, skills and training. Power to Change is already committed to supporting community-led housing in Bristol and will be looking for opportunities to invest in-depth in Bristol over the next five years to demonstrate the potential of community business.


SAFE productions


One example of a place undergoing significant transformation due to community businesses is Liverpool; with success stories such as Granby Four Streets and SAFE Regeneration, we can see that local people have an appetite for change. Organisations like Alt Valley Trust are running local authority services such as libraries, schools and leisure centres as well as forging supply chains with other community businesses in the city.