A microbrewery, textiles studio, furniture store, property developer and a community centre are all in line for business skills support from Marks & Spencer and a cash grant of up to £10,000 after reaching the final of the Plymouth leg of the M&S Community Business Challenge.
The M&S Community Business Challenge seeks out community businesses in regional heats across England to support with specialist business development support and with grants from Power to Change, to help them grow. Plymouth’s finalists are:
- Nudge Community Builders, which brings empty buildings back into use including The Clipper, a formerly disused pub in Stonehouse which has been converted into a market space for the local community.
- Billy Ruffians, a community-owned brewery based at City College Plymouth, which promotes environmental standards and the circular economy, and provides learning opportunities for local people.
- Makers HQ, a textiles sampling studio in Stonehouse which reinvests all profits into the provision of training and education programmes for members of the community.
- St Saviours, a new cultural hub and community space based at the church hall on the Barbican.
- The Furniture Reuse Project, a store on Union Street, Stonehouse which collects unwanted furniture and supplies it to a wide range of customers, including people who have recently been homeless.
Over the coming weeks the community businesses will be supported to create a short video about their work and encouraged to garner support across social media, ahead of presenting their work at a prestigious celebration event at Devonport Guildhall on Thursday, May 30, where the size of their grant and the nature of the business skills support will be confirmed. The event is open to the public and is free to attend, but spaces are limited. Anyone interested should sign up on Eventbrite here [add link].
Allison Jenkins, M&S Head of Region for the South West, said: “We’ve been amazed by the community businesses and projects that we have discovered through the application process. 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 absolutely thrilled to see the variety of community businesses stepping forward for this challenge in Plymouth. Community businesses have the power to transform lives, and in Plymouth the movement is already happening. The city is full of fantastic community businesses, powered by inspirational people with true entrepreneurial spirit.”
The M&S Community Business Challenge opened in Liverpool in 2018 and will run heats in Bristol and Bradford later in 2019. 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; communitybusinesses 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.