M&S Community Business Challenge Winners Revealed

Seven winners of the Power to Change/ M&S Community Business Challenge have been announced at a showcase event at The Florrie, Liverpool.

Following the challenge’s launch in September, Liverpool residents have been flocking to social media to show their support for the seven shortlisted community businesses and learning more about their projects in the M&S Liverpool store.

Seven shortlisted applications came together to showcase their work to, and answer questions asked by, a prestigious judging panel comprising of M&S and Power to Change representatives. The presentations from the community businesses highlighted the energy, spirit and camaraderie across community businesses across the city. Following a period of deliberation, in an unexpected turn of events it was revealed that due to the exceptionally high standard of all the shortlisted projects and their passionate presentations on the day, all seven of the community businesses were to be awarded with support and funding.

The winners, who all received £10,000 funding and business support are listed below, along with their application videos:

TARGET Football in Toxteth will be developing their plans to improve and expand the Stany Fields sports centre so that it reaches more people, offering more sporting activities, and benefiting the community for years to come.

The Rotunda in Kirkdale will be developing plans for the Rotunda Garden Bistro which will include the creation of a new healthy menu, staff training and a new external event catering service.

Lister Steps, which provides affordable childcare in Tuebrook, will be developing a skills and education programme, community gardens and a café. The team will use their win to get M&S expertise to refresh their brand and reach more people.

Kitty’s Laundrette in Anfield is a new project offering affordable, environmentally friendly washing facilities along with social and creative activities. Their win will help them developing their business operations to ensure that they have a successful opening and build strong foundations for the future.

HomeGrown Collective, which delivers horticulture training in Anfield, will be exploring and developing innovative new food and drinks projects with the expertise of M&S staff. Their planned projects include a hydroponics lab to grow microgreens for local restaurants and recycling bread waste for beer production.

Homebaked, a community bakery in Anfield will be using the support to help their relocation to a new production facility which will allow them to offer more training and free up space in their existing kitchen for new community baking courses.

The Florrie, a community heritage venue in Dingle will be developing exciting new plans for a community café, employing a new chef to develop a delicious and affordable menu.

Sam Jones of community business Homegrown Collective said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for all of us. It hasn’t been just about the funding available, it’s the unique opportunity to work with M&S that has attracted us all. To use their experience to help us move forward with our businesses makes it a really exciting period for all of us.”

Lynne Winstanley from The Rotunda added: “Today has been absolutely overwhelming and I’m stunned. As organisations we’re all really supportive of each other and we’re ecstatic with the extraordinary result. Every penny will make such a difference and change the lives of the residents we all support through our community businesses.”

Rachael O’Byrne from Kitty’s Laundrette said: “This has been a really nice day, being with our fellow community businesses from across Liverpool. The brilliant thing about community businesses is that we do support each other and help each other to solve problems. The support and funding will help us on the operational side once we have opened in the new year. We are going to need support on the commercial side to make Kitty’s as successful as possible.”

The Community Business programme has been piloted in the Liverpool City Region in 2018, as part of M&S’s Community Transformation Programme. The retailer is currently trialling a range of actions in Liverpool to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing.

Pete Swallow, Head of Merseyside Region at M&S said “This has been great opportunity for businesses across the Liverpool City Region and I’m thrilled that we have learnt about so many incredible ventures across the city through this process. The engagement from customers and communities, as well as the community businesses, has been heartening to see and we have been proud to raise awareness of some of the amazing work of the shortlisted businesses in our Liverpool store.”

“We have big ambitions for this project. We want to support the growth and financial sustainability of community businesses through the business skills support that will take place. The success of these winners will have a long-term impact on their local communities and local economies.”

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change added: “Today’s showcase event has provided a real insight into the collaborative, creative projects with people at their heart that exist in Liverpool. The visible way in which the community businesses have supported each other through the whole programme reaffirmed that they were all winners and incredible assets to Liverpool.”

For more information about the programme, visit www.communitybusinesschallenge.co.uk

ENDS

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.

About the M&S community transformation programme

Liverpool is one of 10 locations selected for M&S’s community transformation programme, as part of Plan A 2025. The retailer is currently trialling a range of actions in Liverpool to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, poverty, mental health and wellbeing.

Several initiatives are already taking place in Liverpool as part of the community transformation programme. This includes fortnightly meet-ups for new mums in the M&S Café to enjoy a coffee and a chat, working in collaboration with the leading social network MUSH, which connects mums locally based on their children’s ages and interests.

The Liverpool store is also hosting a new monthly ‘Tea and Company’ social group in the M&S Café in partnership with Royal Voluntary Service, a national volunteering organisation supporting older people and the NHS. The ‘friendship’ tables, hosted by Royal Voluntary Service, are being set up to encourage older people to come together and connect with others from the local community. M&S is offering £1 off hot drinks for both events. Ask a team member in store for more details.

About Power to Change

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.

www.powertochange.org.uk @peoplesbiz

For more information please contact: Alex Valk 07384 812777 alexv@powertochange.org.uk