£3.2m Bright Ideas Fund launches to help community business start-ups in England

Today (5 February) Power to Change is announcing a new £3.2m Community Business Bright Ideas Fund to offer tailored support and grants of up to £15,000 to 150 groups to develop their projects.

Over three years, the fund will give community groups the early stage finance they need to carry out consultations with local people to develop a community business idea the community wants and needs and will also give them support and tools to start setting up their community businesses. The funding programme is delivered by Locality in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK.

The tailored support programme is open to community groups, associations and organisations across England which have a good idea for a community business but need help developing it, or which are just starting out.

Kitty’s Launderette applied to the Bright Ideas programme to help establish their community launderette and social space in Liverpool.

They want to create a vital amenity for their local area by providing affordable washing and drying facilities to residents, while also reimagining the underused space of the laundrette for a variety of social and creative activities. They want to increase access to services, combat isolation and increase social cohesion in the area.

The Bright Ideas programme enabled them to develop their organisation and business model, access finance and bookkeeping training and expand its marketing and communications capacity.

Grace Harrison from Kitty’s Launderette, said: “The support and guidance we’ve received has been absolutely fantastic!  I was particularly impressed with how flexible the training has been and how it was able to address our specific organisational needs. It’s been robust and detailed but not bogged down in admin which can obstruct what you’re trying to achieve.”

Locality Chief Executive Tony Armstrong said:

“The Bright Ideas Fund will give organisations a chance to make a real difference to the lives of people in their neighbourhoods by getting their community businesses off the ground.

Whether you aim to start a local bus service, or set up a health and wellbeing centre, community businesses generate jobs, tackle social isolation and boost the local economy we want you to apply. People all over England are bursting with bright ideas and we are really keen to find them in the areas that need them most like Bradford, Leicester, Hartlepool, Plymouth, Grimsby, Liverpool and Bristol”

Kate Stewart, Director of Programmes at Power to Change, said:

“As the organisation set up to support and grow community businesses in England, we’re delighted to be continuing Bright Ideas, to provide crucial support and funding for local people who have a great idea but need some support to make it a reality.”

PermaFuture relaunched their veg box scheme to fight food poverty, with the support of their Bright Ideas Fund Advisor.

The town of Bentley near Doncaster in Yorkshire was a classic ‘food desert’ – 94% of people live within walking distance of a fast food outlet and there is no independent greengrocer serving the town’s 21,000 strong population. Falling within the top 10% poorest regions in the UK, Bentley faces a range of food poverty issues. To tackle this Permafuture teaches people how to save money by growing their own food at home at Bentley Urban Farm.

Their veg box scheme sells locally grown produce to local people to tackle some of the issues around food poverty in the area. It offers subsidised boxes for poorer families and also teaches people how to save money by growing their own food at home. Permafuture even buys produce from local members of the community they’ve taught so they can make some extra money.

With support from their Bright Ideas Fund Advisor, PermaFuture completed a successful revision of the veg box business plan and cash flow forecast/sales projections. This helped them to prepare for the launch of the scheme in May 2017. Permafuture were also able to launch a new website and social media accounts, which has been crucial in promoting sales of the boxes. They are currently selling 20+ boxes per week and increasing, even over the summer holidays.

Warren Draper from Permafuture, said:

“The advice from our Bright Ideas mentor was invaluable, as was the knowledge and advice

from the experts who helped guide us. The fact that it allowed us to operate for a period of time without worrying where our salaries were coming from was also very helpful.

“Bright Ideas put us in touch with two mentors who had been responsible for founding the Suma food co-operative. Their vital knowledge allowed us to set up a co-operative company in an area which had none to begin with. More importantly, it allowed us to provide fresh, healthy food to one of the poorest regions of the UK. I would highly recommend the Bright Ideas programme as it provides access to essential expertise as well as much needed funding.”

The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will be open for applications from Tuesday 26th February 2019 until Tuesday 9th April 2019 at mycommunity.org.uk/bright-ideas-fund/

There will be additional funding rounds in

  • August – September 2019,
  • February 2020 – April 2020,
  • August – September 2020,
  • February 2021 – March 2021.

There will be a webinar on 11am – 12pm Wednesday 13th March 2019 about the application process. To register for the webinar, please visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4785341082201677579

To read the funding critera, please visit mycommunity.org.uk/bright-ideas-fund/


Media Enquiries please contact:

Katherine Newbigging, 0774 115 3067  katherine.newbigging@locality.org.uk


Notes to Editors:

About Bright Ideas (mycommunity.org.uk/bright-ideas-fund/)

The Bright Ideas Fund supports new community business ideas through the start-up and planning stages with tailored business support, to the implementation stage with grants of up to £15,000.

Between Septemeber 2016 and December 2018, the Bright Ideas Fund supported over 80 groups with £1.85m. Projects ranged from community cafes, veg box delivery service, public baths to lauderattes.

The Bright Ideas Fund is funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, and delivered by Locality, the national network for community organisations, in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK.


About Locality (locality.org.uk)

Locality supports local community organistions to be strong and successful. Our national network of over 600 members helps more than 400,000 people every week. We offer specilaist advice, peer learning and campaign with members for a fairer society. Together we unlock the power of community.


About Power to Change (powertochange.org.uk/)

Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trading for community benefit and making life better for local people. There are nearly 7,000 community businesses across England employing 35,500 people, with a combined income of £1.2bn.

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives.