Community-run farms, a café and the operator of an adventure playground are among the businesses in line for skills support and a cash grant of up to £10,000 after reaching the final of the Bristol leg of the M&S Community Business Challenge.
Bristol is the third city in England to host the M&S Community Business Challenge, which seeks to find inspiring businesses that are run by local people and provide clear benefits to their communities.
Over the coming weeks seven finalists will be encouraged to garner support across social media ahead of presenting their business plans at a showcase event on 3rd October, where the size of their grant and the nature of the business skills support will be confirmed. Members of the public can show their support for each community business by filling in the form at www.communitybusinesschallenge.co.uk/bristol or by naming the community business alongside #CBChallenge on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
The event will see each business pitch to a panel of judges from M&S. Power to Change has also produced a series of short films about the community businesses, which can be watched here.
The Bristol finalists are:
- APE Project CIC, a community interest company that has run St Paul’s Adventure Playground on Fern Street since the council withdrew funding in 2017. It is now looking to open a new community bakery.
- Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust, which manages a 45-acre Victorian cemetery and green space in the heart of Bristol, used by more than 200,000 people every year.
- Community In Partnership, which runs Filwood Community Centre for the benefit of local people in Knowle West and south Bristol.
- Redcatch Community Garden, a space for the community to learn about sustainability and growing fresh, healthy food.
- St Werburghs City Farm, which works with volunteers to grow vegetable and herb plants that are then sold at a discount to local allotment holders, schools and community groups.
- The Ardagh Community Trust, which provides employment and volunteering opportunities at a community café.
- Windmill Hill City Farm, a 4.5-acre site just south of central Bristol that works to improve the lives of local people through education and community development.
The event is open to the public and is free to attend, but spaces are limited. Anyone interested should sign up on Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ms-community-business-challenge-bristol-tickets-69446523421
James Shorney, Store Manager of the M&S Broadmead branch in Bristol town centre, said: “We’ve been inspired and impressed by the community businesses that we’ve discovered through the application process in Bristol. It’s great to know M&S colleagues will be able to apply their business skills to support such fantastic causes and we’re looking forward to finding out even more about the projects at the finalist event.”
Mark Gordon, Director of Communications and Partnerships at Power to Change, added: “I am delighted to see the variety of community businesses stepping forward for this challenge in Bristol. Community businesses have the power to transform lives, and in Bristol the movement is already happening. There is a great range of entrepreneurial community businesses across the city that are making a real difference.”
The School for Social Entrepreneurs are working with Power to Change and M&S to support delivery of the programme. Michelle Virgo, Business Manager at SSE Dartington, said: “This shortlist demonstrates the amazing work of community businesses in Bristol. It has been a pleasure to support them through the application process and we look forward to hearing more about their business plans at the finalist event.”
The M&S Community Business Challenge opened in Liverpool in 2018, with the second edition taking place in Plymouth earlier this year. For more information about the programme, search #CBChallenge on Youtube and Twitter or visit www.communitybusinesschallenge.co.uk
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.