Seven inspirational community businesses shortlisted for the Bristol M&S Community Business Challenge have been awarded with funds and business support at a showcase event in the city.
Following the launch of the Bristol leg of the challenge in July this year, residents in Bristol 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 3rd October at The Station in Silver Street to showcase their work to a prestigious judging panel made up of M&S and Power to Change representatives. After inspiring pitches and a surge of online votes all seven community businesses were awarded as follows:
- APE Project CIC was awarded £8,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. APE Project, a community interest company that runs St Paul’s Adventure Playground on Fern Street, will use its package of support to launch a new community bakery and teaching space at the site. This includes hiring a dedicated project manager to oversee the bakery launch.
Rachel Davies, Co-Founder of Ape Project CIC, said: “Receiving this grant and support is a huge relief to a community business like ours. We don’t have a lot of people on our team, so we often have to do so many different jobs to keep the whole project running. This award will take some of the pressure off and allow us to keep building the business.”
- Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust was awarded £6,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. The organisation, which manages a 45-acre Victorian cemetery and green space in the heart of Bristol, will use its package of support to develop its on-site shop as a source of revenue. This includes bringing on board a paid member of staff to support the existing team of volunteers, as well as improving marketing and visual merchandising.
Ellie Collier, CEO of Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust, said: “It’s absolutely essential that we maximise all income generation opportunities so that we can continue to offer an open, safe and accessible space to the community. This support will really help us to grow and develop the whole site.”
- Community In Partnership Knowle West was awarded £6,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. The business, which runs Filwood Community Centre for the benefit of people in Knowle West and south Bristol, will use the package of support to expand the services on offer to local people. This includes a six-month outreach programme to grow awareness and find out what services people in the community want to access.
Makala Cheung, Creative Director and Business Manager at Filwood Community Centre, said: “This support will help us to stay true to what the community centre is all about – being for the community and growing and responding to what the community wants us to be.”
- Redcatch Community Garden, a community space focused on growing fresh, healthy food, was awarded £8,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. The business plans to use its package of support to help with the re-fit of its commercial kitchen so that it can expand its food production operation and train volunteers.
Kate Swain, Co-Founder of Redcatch Community Garden, said: “We’re delighted to receive this funding and support, which opens up so many doors for us. It’s a foundation to look at how we become a food centre and connect with more people and groups in the community.”
- St Werburghs City Farm was awarded £8,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. The business, 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, will use its package of support to improve its business operations and computer systems, as well as installing an irrigation system that would free up more time for staff to spend with volunteers.
Esme Worrell, Project Lead at St Werburghs City Farm, said: “This support means a great deal to all of us. It’s important for our volunteers to be involved in every aspect of the business, so this will have a very positive effect on everybody.”
- The Ardagh Community Trust, which provides employment and volunteering opportunities at a community café, was awarded £6,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. The business plans to use the package of support to help it move from being a seasonal café to opening year-round and for longer hours during the day.
Sam Thomson, CEO at The Ardagh Community Trust, said: “All of our staff currently work part-time, so this funding and support will allow us to spend more time working to grow the business and ensure it’s a success for the whole community.”
- Windmill Hill City Farm, a 4.5-acre site that works to improve the lives of local people through education and community development, was awarded £8,000 from Power to Change and business skills support from M&S. The business plans to use the package of support to open a new farm shop that would act as an additional source of revenue for the business and supply healthy food to the community.
Anna Ralph, Café Manager at Windmill Hill City Farm, said: “This support is a real game-changer for us, enabling us to do more of the great work we’re already doing in the community while helping us to grow the business for the future.”
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 Bristol to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing.
Following the Bristol leg, the M&S Community Business Challenge will move to Bradford in November 2019.
James Shorney, Store Manager at M&S Bristol City Centre, said: “It has been inspiring to learn more about the amazing work of so many community businesses across Bristol. Throughout this process we’ve seen great engagement from customers and members of the community, as well as the community businesses themselves. We’re proud to be raising awareness of some of the shortlisted businesses in our Bristol store.”
Danielle Cohen, Business Development Manager at Power to Change said: “This inspiring event was a wonderful way to connect these seven incredible community businesses. Each business had a clear plan for how they want to expand the great work they’re already doing in the city, and it was heartening to see how they all supported each other through the programme. A huge thank you to everyone who took part.”
For more information please contact Jonathan Bacon (firstname.lastname@example.org, 07894 613176) or Laura Hunt (Laura.email@example.com, 0161 831 7141)
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