Village SOS Roadshow kicks off in Bristol
The Village SOS Roadshow got off to a great start in Bristol on 10 October, with around 80 community enterprise beginners and experts gathering in the Watershed to share ideas, seek advice and develop their community business plans.
The day began with an introduction to Village SOS by the Big Lottery Fund’s Policy Adviser Adam Lang and Plunkett Foundation Chair Peter Cleasby, and a case study on the inspirational Hinton St George Shop by its Vice-Chairman Emma Way. Emma told a rapt audience how in just one year her community went from nearly losing its only shop to running it.
Her tips on raising finance were of particular interest to the crowd. She said: “With community shares, a surprising number of people don't want others to know how much they are pledging. When we set up anonymous donations and Gift Aid, donations nearly trebled.”
Sylvia Brown, Chief Executive of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) took to the stage next and put rural community enterprise in context with how rural communities work.
She said: "There are 11,000 rural communities in England which all have affordable, accessible services under threat." She added the key to saving these vital resources is to inspire communities by giving them the confidence that they know what they're doing.
The presentations were followed by Q&A session, in which the audience had a chance to present their community enterprise challenges to the expert speakers.
During the breaks, attendees chatted to exhibitors including the Big Lottery Fund, Plunkett Foundation and Locality, and also took the opportunity to talk to each other and expand their local network.
The afternoon saw a series of workshops covering a variety of topics, including how to get started, raising finance, managing volunteers, and viability and sustainability. Attendees also got the chance to hear more about Honeystreet’s Village SOS project, the Barge Inn, which was featured on the BBC One TV series, from project leader Terry Kemp and Village Champion Sandra Bhatia who joined Blockley Village Shop’s Chris Grimes for the workshop on setting up an enterprise.
The Village SOS Roadshow continues its tour of the UK with the next event in Doncaster on 19 October. During the coming weeks, events will be held in each region in England and Wales twice, as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland.
To find the event closest to you and book your FREE ticket, click here.
Search for #vsosBristol on Twitter to view the live feed from the event. You can follow future events at twitter.com/@villagesos.