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Community Ownership: How to Get Started

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From pubs and farms to launderettes and lidos, communities are creating democratically controlled, viable, and sustainable businesses. According to Power To Change, there are 7,800 community enterprises in England alone, and the Community Shares Unit reports over 500 businesses established using community shares in the last 10 years. As public funding recedes and the charity sector shrinks, community enterprises provide a creative way to address local needs, with democratic control by the community at the heart of what they do.  

Drawing on past successes and good practice, this practical workshop takes a look at how groups can be successful in developing their own community enterprise, introducing critical success factors, top tips, and useful approaches.


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  • An introduction to community ownership, including the sectors in which they operate and the different models and approaches
  • A step-by-step exploration of how to set up a community business: community engagement, legal structures, governance models, finance and fundraising
  • Knowledge about what’s going on in this exciting and expanding sector
  • Understanding of how a community enterprise model might be applied in your area
  • Knowledge of how community enterprises can be financed beyond grants
  • Understanding of what the community enterprise start-up process looks like and what support is available

  • Communities exploring whether a community enterprise model is suitable for their situation
  • Groups looking to set up a community enterprise to save or maintain a community asset
  • Practitioners and institutions actively supporting community enterprise through their role in the public or private sector
  • Employees of local authorities and development bodies who are interested in the role of the community business within their work

Mark Simmonds is the co-founder of Co-op Culture and Platform 6 Development Co-operative, through which he helps deliver business support to co-operatives across the UK. He is based in Calderdale, West Yorkshire where he is also a founder member of Pennine Community Power, the Fox and Goose Co-operative Pub and Heptonstall Allotment & Garden Society. Mark is a licensed community shares practitioner and is also the author of several start-up guides, including Co-operatives UK’s Simply Start-Up guide.

Nathan Brown is a Member of Co-op Culture, delivering support to co-operatives across the UK.  He is also a Member of Cooperantics and a support provider for the Plunkett Foundation, for whom he has also written guides for the community pubs network. He has been delivering support and training to co-operatives and community businesses for over 20 years. Nathan is a Licensed Community Shares Practitioner and has supported communities purchasing or managing pubs, woodlands, and community garden centres.


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