Plunkett Foundation staff launch first ever Community Shops Fortnight by cycling round the county
Staff at the Woodstock-based charity Plunkett Foundation are preparing to launch the first ever Community Shops Fortnight, which will take place Saturday 23 June to Saturday 7 July 2012, by visiting the county’s 18 community-owned shops by bike.
The bike ride is set to take place over 3 weekends and will see Plunkett Foundation staff members Harriet English and James Alcock cover over 100 miles in total, beginning at Appleton Community Shop at 9:30 on Saturday 23 June. All shops across the county have been sent promotional packs which include bunting, posters, postcards, rosettes and events guides.
Community Shops Fortnight will celebrate the success of the 280 communities across the UK that have saved their village shop through community ownership. Community shops across the whole of the UK will be joining the celebrations, with 75 already requesting special marketing packs containing everything they need to mark the Fortnight.
Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: “In a climate that has seen commercial village shops close at a rate of around 400 per year, they have rallied round and saved their shop from closure, reopening it under community ownership. But that’s not the only thing they should be celebrating. These 280 communities have gone on to build a committed team and engage with everyone in their community to keep their shop up and running, delivering a vital community service day in, day out.
“In celebration of this achievement, Plunkett Foundation is launching Community Shops Fortnight, which will mark the hard work, commitment and pride that ensures a community-owned shop succeeds long after the excitement of open day celebrations has passed.”
Membership Officer, Harriet English, said: “Oxfordshire boasts 18 community shops and has some really great examples of what can be achieved when a community comes together to save what’s important to them through community ownership. By cycling around the county visiting these shops we’re hoping to raise awareness of this achievement, but also to highlight the fact that rural communities across the UK need to be supported to take control of the issues affecting them.”
Community shops are a sustainable and viable way of doing business: they succeed where commercial businesses fail because they engage their whole community, responding to the needs of customers and offering unique goods, such as locally produced food. Community shops currently employ 900 staff and 8,190 volunteers; have 41,769 members; offer 174 Post Offices services and 152 cafes; and stock 5,187 suppliers of goods and services.
As part of the Fortnight, Plunkett Foundation is publishing Better Business, its latest report into the performance of the community shop sector in 2011. The report clearly shows that community-owned shops are going from strength to strength. Average gross sales are up by 18.4% and like for like sales from 2011 show an increase of 9.4%, in an environment that has seen the stalling of growth for large retailers in the UK. The Fortnight will also see the launch of the first ever Community Shop Awards, to celebrate the achievements of community shops generally and highlight particular aspects of good practice to inspire others, such as community engagement or a great marketing campaign. To find out more about the events taking place as part of Community Shops Fortnight, visit www.communityshops.coop.
For press and media enquiries contact Katherine Darling on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01993 810730.
Notes to Editors:
The first Community Shops Fortnight takes place 23 June to 7 July 2012. As part of the celebrations, Plunkett Foundation has already sent out 75 marketing packs to shops that have requested materials, including bunting, posters, postcards, and in some cases a bursary to help with the organisation of special events. The bursary is now closed to applications. The Fortnight coincides with Co-operatives Fortnight, a UK wide celebration of all co-operative enterprises, and 2012 is the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.
The Community Shop Awards will be a chance to celebrate what makes community shops stand out from the crowd – their diversity. Community-owned shops are frequent winners and nominees of high profile awards like the BBC Food & Farming Awards, Countryside Alliance Awards and Telegraph’s Best Small Shops in Britain. Whilst awards like these are great for the shops’ own esteem and the profile of community shops in general, very few of the awards are given based on their contributions to community or their uniqueness as volunteer led enterprises. It is also difficult to say one particular community shop is ‘the best’ considering the range of community shops that now exist. The awards will give community shops a chance to compete on a level playing field and be recognised for their varying achievements.
Also as part of the celebrations Plunkett Foundation staff will be undertaking a bike ride visiting every community-owned shop in Oxfordshire – all 18 of them! The bike ride will cover over 100 miles in total and take place over three weekends. For more information about the bike ride contact Katherine Darling on email@example.com or call the office on 01993 810730.
Plunkett Foundation (www.plunkett.co.uk) helps rural communities through community-ownership to take control of the issues affecting them. It is the only national organisation supporting the development of community-owned village shops in the UK through a dedicated team, specialist support programme and online, phone, and face to face support. It also promotes and develops support for a wide range of other forms of rural social and community enterprises, for example co-operative pubs. Plunkett Foundation also develops and influences policies relevant to rural communities and community-owned enterprises, and undertakes a range of consultancy work for public, private and civil society organisations.