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Community groups urged to bid for £1.6m pot

Photo Credit – Sutton Community Farm

The organisers of the Community Shares Booster programme are urging community groups not to miss out on their share of the £1.6m funding that is still available. 

The Community Shares Booster Programme is a funding scheme to support community share offers. It invests equity up to £100,000 to match community shares in societies that can demonstrate higher than average levels of community impact, innovation and engagement.

Since 2017, the programme has supported 19 community businesses including farms, bookshops, solar parks, a railway pier, community-led housing schemes and even a skatepark. Over 5,000 people across the country have invested £2.1m in community shares so far, matched with £1.2m of funding from Power to Change through the Community Shares Unit.

The programme is funded by Power to Change and run by the Community Shares Unit (delivered by Locality and Cooperatives UK).

One successful recipient of the Booster programme is Sutton Community Farm in Wallington, South London, who received match investment of £48,731. The community-owned seven-acre smallholding was started in 2010 in response to a community need to increase access to fresh, healthy, sustainable food.

It provides locally grown produce through a veg box scheme to around 300 customers across south London, as well as events, workshops and a shared space for people to cultivate skills, exercise and make new friends.

Funds raised through two community share offers are being used to build a new barn, providing more sheltered space to pack the veg boxes and host community activities.

Alice Brown, Farm Business Manager, said, ‘As a membership organisation the farm has a life of its own beyond any one individual, with the community having a sense of accountability and ownership. This helps to ensure a focus on fulfilling community needs not simply making as much money as possible.’

Naomi Sampson, programme manager at Power to Change said: ‘Community shares are an incredible way for people to support businesses that improve lives in their neighbourhood while claiming a stake in them at the same time.

‘But we know setting up a share offer can be daunting if you’ve done one before, so we designed this programme to help anyone interested in getting their project off the ground as well as matching their income.’

For more information and to apply go to https://communitysharesbooster.org.uk/

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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