Supporting community business
in the East Midlands
The East Midlands, home to both the world’s first factory and the world’s last working factory, has rich industrial heritage. Comprising the cities of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Lincoln, the region’s economic characteristics are not typical of that of northern England, unlike the neighbouring West Midlands, and not as affluent as large parts of the south of England.
Over 100 community businesses in the region have received investment from Power to Change, with a fifth of these focusing on providing better access to services.
In Leicester, Power to Change has invested over £2m, with almost half of this going into the ward of Braunstone, through the five-year Empowering Places programme. Ranked among the 10% most deprived areas in the country, Braunstone went into deep decline in the 70s and 80s, a result of under investment and escalating crime rates. But thanks to the successful deployment of the New Deal for Communities programme, things started to turn around.
B-inspired, responsible for investing the money locally, is a neighbourhood-based charity that has worked with its community for many years now and achieved a great deal, successfully bringing numerous assets into community ownership and with them jobs, services and products that local people want and need.
Their vision is that at the end of the five years Braunstone will boast a community business-led economy, with a self-supporting cluster of community businesses, offering a range of goods and services that local people can afford, supported by a partnership that manages local infrastructure with the community’s needs in mind.
Another source of community power, Green Fox Community Energy Co-operative are working with Leicester City Council, the Attenborough Learning Trust, the Energy Systems Catapult and Loughborough University, in the heart of multicultural Leicester to develop a new innovative business model for the community energy sector.
The model aims to develop a more holistic energy approach which can be tested and then rolled out to all multi academy trusts in Leicester and Leicestershire. It will provide the foundation for a community share offer and community ownership which delivers heat and electricity and cost savings through a range of low carbon technologies in a better integrated and more cost-effective way.
A Power to Change grant is helping to test the business model idea by focusing on one newly forming Multi Academy Trust (Attenborough Learning Trust) which will operate in deprived neighbourhoods in Leicester.
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