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.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Ahead of their time

I had the great pleasure of visiting Berrynarbor Community Shop in Devon recently. What struck me was how forward thinking they had been when they were formed in 2004. Three aspects stood out for me.

Firstly, their use of community shares as a major funding source was several years ahead of its time.

Secondly, the deal they struck between the owner of the old shop owner and the council is still ahead of its time. This gave them four years to show that a community shop works and plan a larger store or to have proved that the idea didn't work, then either way to vacate the shop which was then allowed to be converted to housing. Right to Try at its best.

Thirdly, they were great community marketers. Whenever someone moves into the village, they receive a welcome pack, urging them to invest and volunteer in the shop. This has meant that the level of investment has continued to rise.

Berrynarbor is certainly one to watch.

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