Peter Couchman is the Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation.

The Plunkett Foundation is the organisation which promotes and supports co-operative and social enterprises in rural communities both in the UK and internationally. It provides support, networks and knowledge which offers practical solutions for rural communities that helps to create thriving places where people live and work now and in the future.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Faith in enterprise

I spent a fascinating afternoon in Oxford at a conference for Church of England officials on using church buildings for community benefit. There was a real commitment there and some great examples of projects.


My talk was on using church buildings (and land) for community owned enterprises, with co-operative examples from Jamaica and Ireland as well as the UK.


I laid down two challenges. Firstly, don’t just see this as a property issue. Church communities have as much to add as people as the building that they bring with them. Their values are also a major strength, as long as they accept the values of others as well.


Secondly, realise how much expertise is out there already. I suggested that 80% of the challenges they would face were the same as any other rural community-owned enterprise. Avoiding wheel reinvention could save a lot of their energy.


The event gave me a great deal of hope and I look forward to following it up with a meeting with the Churches Conservation Trust.

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