The Plunkett Network

Community co-operatives caring.

Plunkett shop image with fresh veg
  • Involves: communities, volunteers, employees / tenants
  • Costs: ££-£££

Plunkett Foundation helps communities to take control of their challenges and overcome them through co-operation. We support 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.

Community shops, pubs, farms, woodlands and more already offer so much more than just one service – innovating and contributing to people’s wellbeing, connectedness and ability to stay in their community. They help people to tackle a range of issues such as isolation, loneliness and poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and anything in between.

How it works

  • Community shops particularly benefit those who are disadvantaged by lack of personal transport, limited physical mobility, and those seeking employment or volunteer opportunities.
  • Community pubs can offer additional services to meet community needs – for example, one has arranged regular visits by a community nurse. Others host local get-togethers, including dementia or memory cafes.
  • One group is preparing school luncheons – the same service could be offered to other groups in the community, such as older people or residents in residential homes.
  • One group is looking to develop an additional multi-functional room which can also be hired out to a GP practice for consultations.
  • The 2016-18 ‘More than a pub’ programme is there to support groups wishing to develop, for example, prescription collection services.
  • ‘Making Local Woods Work’ is developing wellbeing impact assessment tools for woodland social enterprises.
  • To be successful, co-operatives need to offer services to generate the income needed to keep running. In addition, many use part of their profits or fundraise to add a service that will not generate an income – such as purchasing a defibrillator for their community.

Villagers, councillors and an NHS Trust are working together to create a community shop in Little Plumstead. As well as serving a growing community, it would give an opportunity to service users at the nearby Broadland Clinic, which provides residential treatment for people with mental health issues, to volunteer and gain work experience before being discharged from the forensic mental health facility.

Doug Faulkner

Norwich Evening News (4 May 2017)


8,500 volunteers in community co-operatives (2016)