The Weekly Boffin is a complex character. When not scything through the executive maelstrom of modern recruitment, TWB can be found slipping seamlessly into rural life in its leafy Cotswold retreat. It really is a newsletter for all people.
There are huge benefits to living away from big towns and cities but even areas which many would regard as idyllic face challenges in the 21st century. We are incredibly fortunate that the small town in which we live has a number of shops, pubs and hotels. For a population of just over 2000 we are incredibly well catered for.
That isn't always the case. Many different factors including government cuts mean that community assets like shops and post offices are disappearing fast from many local communities. The rise of online shopping has also had an effect. People are less inclined to go from place to place to buy separate items when they can be delivered directly to your door.
The peripatetic nature of modern life means that we often lose the community feeling which helps small local trade to thrive. However, in recent years there has been a real kick against this trend and the rise of the community owned business has seen threatened operations flourish.
The Plunkett Foundation is an organisation which helps people to start community run businesses and they published a report last month which detailed the stats behind this growth. There are now 348 community owned shops in the UK creating over 1000 paid jobs. None of these shops have closed the last two years resulting in a 95% long term survival rate for such enterprises. It isn't just shops either. In June this the year the UK's 50th community owned pub began trading with 6 similar establishments opening in the last twelve months.
Community owned businesses generally start life with the takeover of a failing local concern. A committee comes together and invests personal finance to start trading with a one member, one vote system when it comes to making business decisions. Whilst investors ideally get their stake back, long term the idea is less about profit and more about creating a sustainable community benefit.
The Plunkett Foundation points out that enterprises like these also help combat loneliness, poverty and isolation. Older members of the community often volunteer at COBs and it can provide the first employment for local teens. Another positive side-effect is that residents are made more aware of the need to "use it or lose it" as invariably they know an investor or a member. Having worked in local businesses myself I was always surprised at how few people knew we existed. COBs remove the anonymity often associated with rural trade.
We live in a time in which we are more and more preoccupied with our own lives. Community spirit can often be in short supply but co-operatives like these prove that there is still an appetite for making the most out of living in a caring environment.
Job of the Week
Policy Manager, London
Must have degree level or equivalent.
Beneficial to have background in energy related context.
Developing and managing specific projects.
Organising, supporting and reporting to committees, working groups and shareholders as required.
Up to £40,000.
If this sounds like you or someone you know please get in touch here!
On This Day
On this day in 1903 Joe Pulitzer donated $1 million to Columbia University and began the Pulitzer Prizes in the US. Previous winners include The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
Tuck into some of the most delicious street food in London at StrEATlife, Alexandra Palace’s craft beer and food festival. Choose between more than 30 foodie vendors, as you sip on a pint of artisan beer and listen to live music and DJ sets. Also, look out for street art and graffiti artists showcasing their skills around the venue.
Fact Of The Week
The human nose can remember 50,000 different scents and the sense of smell is the most evocative in terms of memories.