Five inspirational community businesses shortlisted for the Plymouth M&S Community Business Challenge were awarded with funds and business support at a showcase event at the Devonport Guildhall yesterday (30th May).
Following the launch of the Plymouth leg of the challenge in March this year, residents in Plymouth have been voicing their support for the shortlisted community businesses in the M&S store, on social media and online at www.communitybusinesschallenge.co.uk.
The finalists came together yesterday to showcase their work to a prestigious judging panel made up of M&S and Power to Change representatives. Following inspiring pitches from all five community businesses, each of them was awarded as follows:
- Nudge Community Builders was awarded the maximum grant of £10,000 and business skills support. Nudge, which brings empty buildings back into use in Plymouth, will use support from M&S to help with business planning, visual merchandising and income generation at its converted market space The Clipper on Union Street. The £10,000 funding from Power to Change will be spent on improving the customer experience through a stronger visible presence, improved signage, outdoor seating and by ensuring the space is more welcoming for families.
Wendy Hart, Co-Founder at Nudge, said: “It’s amazing to have been awarded this grant and business support. The whole challenge has been a great way of showcasing the positive difference that community businesses are making in Plymouth.”
- Billy Ruffians was awarded £9,250 and business skills support. The business is a community-owned brewery based at City College Plymouth, and the support from M&S will go towards building its customer base and optimising the brewery’s supply chain. The grant from Power to Change will provide capital investment towards bottling equipment and EcoKegs so that Billy Ruffians can produce more great beer alongside creating social, environmental and economic impact.
Jack Witek, Co-Managing Director of Billy Ruffians, said: “We feel humbled and privileged to have received this support. It really energises us to build the business and take our plans forward.”
- Makers HQ was awarded the maximum grant of £10,000 and business skills support. The business is a textiles sampling studio in Stonehouse which provides training to members of the local community. The support from M&S will help to upscale production capacity and explore opportunities to make the business more environmentally sustainable. The grant from Power to Change will be used as investment in new industrial equipment, so that Makers HQ can support the growth of local textile and clothing businesses.
Sophie Glover, Studio Manager at Makers HQ, said: “It’s a real privilege to have been involved in the Community Business Challenge. This support is recognition of the great work we’ve already done at Makers HQ and the potential we have to grow the business further.”
- St Saviours, a new cultural hub and community space based at the church hall on the Barbican, will enter into a consultation with Power to Change to assess how the trust can provide funding and support for a planned asset transfer and renovation of the building.
Matthew Pontin, Director of St Saviours, said: “This support means a huge amount to us as we develop our plans for the building. We’re very proud to have been a part of the Community Business Challenge.”
- The Furniture Reuse Project received the maximum grant of £10,000 and business skills support. The business runs 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. The funding and support from M&S will help with visual merchandising, local marketing and digital media, and outreach to more people and charities in the local area.
Alison Turner, Chairperson of The Furniture Reuse Project, said: “This whole experience has been a great opportunity for us to get our name out there so that more people know they can come to us for help. The grant and skills support will help us to grow the service and support more people.”
The Community Business Challenge launched in the Liverpool City Region in 2018, as part of M&S’s Community Transformation Programme. The retailer is trialling a range of actions in cities like Liverpool and Plymouth to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing.
Following the Plymouth leg, the M&S Community Business Challenge will run heats in Bristol and Bradford later in 2019.
Holly Drew, Commercial Manager, M&S said: “This has been a great opportunity for community businesses across Plymouth and I’m thrilled that we have learnt about so many incredible ventures across the city through this process. It has been very heartening to see the engagement from customers and communities, as well as the community businesses themselves, and we’re proud to be raising awareness of some of the amazing work of the shortlisted businesses in our Plymouth store.”
Kate Stewart, Power to Change Director of Programmes, added: “This showcase event in Plymouth has provided a fantastic insight into the collaborative, creative projects that have communities at their heart across the city. The clear ways in which the community businesses supported each other through the whole programme reaffirmed that they were all winners and incredible assets to Plymouth. A huge thanks to everyone who took part and particularly to the Real Ideas Organisation who rolled out the challenge in the city.”
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.