The Plunkett Foundation supports people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. They help people to tackle a range of issues, from isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and everything in between.
Plunkett’s core values are the values of the great Irish co-operative pioneer, Sir Horace Plunkett, who founded the Plunkett Foundation in 1919. He believed that rural communities didn’t have to wait for someone else to make life better for them; they had the potential to do it themselves – with a little help. His values are embedded in the heart of what Plunkett do:
Essentially, Plunkett aim to support communities that are seeking to address local problems through trading activity that is needed, that will be economically viable and sustainable, and help alleviate poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion. This could include supporting the whole community or individuals that are financially disadvantaged, through to addressing wider social issues such as loneliness and isolation. This may be achieved by safeguarding vital services, creating jobs and training and providing opportunities for social interaction and involvement.
Plunkett also look to ensure the activity doesn’t displace any other trading activity which is serving the community. The enterprise needs to be generating benefits for the wider community, not just for those that are members of the co-operative, or those identified as being in poverty. This might be the creation of a ‘community hub’ that allows all members of the community to take part in some way and feel the benefit of being part of the community. On the whole, we allow communities to ‘self define’ themselves as rural owing to ‘rural’ looking very differently in different parts of the UK.
Plunkett support communities that want to create a community co-operative that will adopt a legal structure that enables genuine and democratic community ownership. There are many legal structures that will enable this, but they should feature:
There will also be various ways in which the enterprise is managed but to meet with the above criteria, Plunkett’s expectation is that a community co-operative may look like any one of the following:
Features of the Plunkett Community Pub Business Support Programme: