Thirteen organisations, including Plunkett Foundation, will set up or expand peer networks aimed at increasing connections between community businesses to improve their local areas. The project will also assemble thirteen leading peer network practitioners from these organisations.

 Over 18 months, organisations involved in the project will explore ways to implement and improve network models helping community businesses to share ideas, plans and inspiration with each other more effectively.

The Peer Networks programme aims to strengthen the networks supporting community businesses, as they continue to grow in size and scope. There are now more than 7,000 community businesses in England, each serving the social needs of local people and recycling money back into the local area.

The project results from Power to Change research showing that:

  • 72% community businesses already work closely with other community businesses
  • 69% community businesses actively support the chance to network more with other community businesses

Harriet English, Membership Manager for Plunkett Foundation, said “I’m really pleased to be part of this exciting new project that brings together so much experience from the community business sector. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to work alongside 12 other organisations with all of us sharing values and a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. We are delighted that the Power to Change team have included this Community of Practice in their Peer Networking programme to help us support each other and inspire best practice.”

Join our online network

As part of the programme we have established two Facebook networking groups. The aim of these groups is to establish a national platform for those involved with both community shops and co-operative pubs to discuss ideas, share events and have somewhere to ask questions and find support with day-to-day issues.

To find out more about the online network, and how to join, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ section of our website.

Who is involved?

The organisations involved are:

  • Community Food Growers Network
  • The Company of Community Organisations
  • Co-Operatives UK
  • Eden Project
  • Impact Hub Brixton
  • Locality
  • Octopus Community Network Ltd
  • Plunkett Foundation
  • Project Dirt
  • Regen SW
  • Social Enterprise Acumen CIC
  • Supporters Direct
  • Upper Norwood Library Trust

Keep up with the peer network experts’ findings on


  1. Started in 2015, Power to Change is an independent charitable trust endowed with £150 million from the Big Lottery Fund to grow community business in England. Over the next nine years, we will provide funding and support to help build many more sustainable community businesses that have positive economic, social and environmental impact in local places across England.
  2. Community businesses are charities or other local organisations which are locally rooted, trading for the benefit of the local community, accountable to local people, and have broad community impact.
  3. Shared Assets and the Social Change Agency have joined forces to run the Peer Networks Programme for Power to Change.