The Social Impact of the Rural Community Business Sector
A paper by The Plunkett Foundation in collaboration with the Co-Op has been produced to discuss the impact of rural community businesses, and we thought you might be interested to learn about some of the key findings, with Ewelme Village Store being a Community Shop (we also contributed to the research for the paper).
There’s a link to the full paper at the bottom of this blog post if you’d like to read it.
What is a community Shop?
"A shop owned and controlled by a large number of people from within the community for community benefit."
Ewelme Village Store has 394 shareholders, and is run by a management committee of 6 people who meet on a monthly basis to review the financial position of the shop and address key operational issues and future strategy.
There are 363 community shops trading the in the UK and the long term survival rate for community shops is 94%, compared to an “all business” rate of 43%. That's a pretty positive statistic!
Community businesses are thriving in rural communities, despite the unique challenges they face, including how to manage governance matters, reliance on volunteers and maintaining financial stability, fundraising where necessary.
COVID-19, as well as bringing its own new set of challenges, magnifies the existing ones and has required incredible adaptability and resilience over the last several months.
Ewelme Village Store is very proud of the fact that we have been open for 11 years now, and even during one of the biggest global challenges ever to face our country, we have managed to keep the shop open in some shape or form throughout, and we continue to be delighted by the amount of support from the local community.
What is The Ripple Effect?
"the continuing and spreading results of an event or action" (taken from Oxford Languages).
The ripple effect report identifies that remote and rural areas who are able to maintain their social spaces by taking them into community ownership, experience improved interaction between residents, increased positivity and better engagement across a community (taken from www.plunkett.co.uk).
The report shows that community businesses can help to address a wide range of issues, including inequality, loneliness, wellbeing, connectivity, work and training. If ever there was a time for these issues to be addressed, it is now!
Ewelme Village Store may be small in size, but it’s “ripple effect” is large!
Staff and volunteers
Did you know that we have a wide range of volunteers, of all ages; from 15 year old Oscar who delivered our newspapers during full lockdown to retired individuals who come to help out with the paperwork or man the till and everyone in between.
Our paid staff are all from the local community and for our weekend staff, the shop is often their first job, so we have an opportunity to give them an excellent introduction into working life, and we’re very proud when they fly the nest and head into their future education or new careers (many of them still stay in touch)!
Customers and the wider community
Our social space may look a little different these days, but we are still able to provide social interaction to our customers, many of whom may really have missed it during lockdown. A friendly face and a catch up on the news can really make someone’s day. It never ceases to amaze what can be learned through a chat at the shop door or in the queue!
As a local community, we are able to get to know our customers and that means we can check in on them and if they’re not able to get to the shop for any reason, we can take supplies to their door (at no extra charge) or just make a quick phone call to say hello.
So the next time you come to the shop, maybe take a minute to remember that it’s not just about a fresh bunch of bananas, a bag of sweeties or a pint of milk….you’re part of an incredible community business with a big heart and a ripple effect to be proud of!
We continue to thank all of our customers, staff, and volunteers for their amazing ongoing support, especially during these somewhat uncertain and challenging times.
As promised, here's a link to the full paper if you'd like to take a look.