Five inspirational community businesses shortlisted for the Bradford M&S Community Business Challenge have been awarded funds and business support at a showcase event in the city.
Following the launch of the Bradford leg of the challenge in July this year, residents in Bradford have been voicing their support for the shortlisted community businesses in the M&S city centre store, on social media and online at www.communitybusinesschallenge.co.uk.
The finalists came together on 13th November at Kala Sangam Arts Centre to showcase their work. This prestigious event was attended by Bradford Lord Mayor Cllr Doreen Lee and featured a judging panel made up of M&S, Power to Change and PWC representatives.
After inspiring pitches and a surge of online votes, all five community businesses were awarded with business skills support from M&S and grants from Power to Change as follows:
- Bread + Roses was awarded £10,000. This unique café and co-working space, which is used by everyone from refugee groups to local artists, will use its package of support to develop new revenue streams for the business including a healthy lunchtime delivery service from the café.
Claudia Bowler, co-founder of Bread + Roses, said: “This funding will make a huge difference to us as a business. We’re already an important resource for lots of people, and this support will allow us to reach more people who need access to different services.”
- Friends of Silsden Town Hall was awarded £10,000. The organisation, which runs sports, educational and arts events at the historic building, will use its package of support to grow its events programme and to renovate its kitchen so it can offer catering services.
Paul Kilgallon, Trustee of Friends of Silsden Town Hall, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been awarded in this way. Just being shortlisted for this event was great recognition of the work that we do, but to actually receive this support will help us to continue transforming the building into a really valuable space.”
- Mary Magdalene CIC was awarded £10,000. The business, which offers a range of activities to people from all backgrounds and faiths in Manningham, in the heart of Bradford – from boxing and archery to keep-fit sessions – will use its package of support to fund a new heating system so it can reach more people throughout the winter.
Sharat Hussain, Director of Mary Magdalene CIC, said: “We already felt like winners because of all the support we’ve had from local people, councillors and local organisations. To receive this funding and support is just brilliant as it means we can continue the journey we’ve been on and keep growing.”
- Queensbury Celtic Football Club was awarded £10,000. The organisation, which provides high quality, affordable football activities for boys and girls aged 4 to 18, will use their package of support to develop their new kitchen for increased daytime use. They will also look to extend their daytime opening hours so they can reach more local community groups, as well as older and disabled people.
Robin Naylor, Secretary of Queensbury Celtic Football Club, said: “This award of funding and support is both exciting and very humbling for us. We’ve got a great facility that we want the whole community to make use of, so this support will enable us to move forward and expand the services we offer.”
- The Thornbury Centre was awarded £10,000. The business, which runs a range of projects including a community library and holiday hunger scheme, will use its package of support to grow its outreach work so it can develop its services for community members who receive Individual Service Funds.
Julie Brown, Business and Operations Manager of The Thornbury Centre, said: “This support opens up many opportunities for us as an organisation – both in terms of growing the commercial side of the business and the services that we can offer people in the community.”
The Community Business Challenge launched in Liverpool in 2018 as part of M&S’s Community Transformation Programme. The retailer is trialling a range of actions in cities like Liverpool and Bradford to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing.
Bradford is the fourth city in England to host the M&S Community Business Challenge following legs in Plymouth and Bristol earlier this year.
Sam Haigh, Bradford store manager at M&S, said: “This event has been a fantastic demonstration of the inspiring work of community businesses across Bradford. Throughout this process we’ve seen great engagement from customers and members of the community, who have got involved and voiced their support for these amazing community businesses. We’re proud to be raising awareness of some of the shortlisted businesses in our Bradford store.”
Vidhya Alakeson, CEO at Power to Change, said: “I’m delighted that we were able to support all of these brilliant community businesses in Bradford. It was clear during the event that each community business had a clear plan for how they want to expand and continue the great work they’re already doing in the city. A huge thank you to everyone who took part.”
In addition to the skills support and funding provided by M&S and Power to Change, all five finalists will also be enrolled in the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club, a free membership network that helps entrepreneurs to develop skills, build networks and grow their businesses. PwC is one of the support partners of the M&S Community Business Challenge.
Lee Dobbins, Director at PwC Bradford, said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in the first Bradford Community Business Challenge. I was really impressed with the five shortlisted community businesses we saw today and look forward to seeing their progress over the coming months.”
About Power to Change: Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector is worth £1.05 billion, and comprises 7,800 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people (Source: Community Business Market 2018).
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. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.
About The National Lottery Community Fund: We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.
About Plan A: Plan A is Marks & Spencer’s ambitious, customer focused sustainability plan that aims to support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business. The three-pillar plan is designed to tackle the big issues facing retailers, consumer businesses and society and spans wellbeing, transforming communities and caring for the planet. Find out more here – http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a
In 2017, M&S announced its new community commitments as part of Plan A 2025, which included supporting colleagues to deliver one million hours of volunteering time by 2025.