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Suffolk community businesses can apply for share of £3.2m fund

East Anglian entrepreneurs with Bright Ideas for a community business can apply for share of £3.2m fund

Norfolk and Suffolk community businesses urge people from across the region to apply

The Bright Ideas Fund will open for new applications for the sixth time on Tuesday, August 6. The fund offers tailored support and grants of up to £15,000 to community groups, associations and organisations across England who have a good idea for a community business but need help developing it.                                                              

Over three years, the fund will give community groups the early stage finance they need to carry out consultations with local people to develop a community business idea, and will also give them support and tools to start setting it up. The programme is funded by Power to Change and delivered by Locality in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK.

Between September 2016 and December 2018, the Bright Ideas Fund supported over 80 groups with £1.85m. Projects ranged from community cafes, veg box delivery service, public baths to launderettes. So far this year alone, 30 applicants have been accepted onto the programme and are currently working through a tailored support programme. 

The Walled Garden Community Shop and Café in Norwich received £15,000 from the Bright Ideas programme in 2018 to help support them with legal costs related to planning and a new lease with their parish council. 

Adrian Nagle, Chair of The Walled Garden said: “Receiving the Bright Ideas grant of £15,000 was a game changer for us. It enabled us to progress the project at a pace that we would never have achieved. The inclusion of time with two consultants encouraged us that we were on the right path and to tweak the project where we weren't. Undoubtedly we would not be on the cusp of building our shop and café without the help of Power to change and the Bright Ideas grant.” 

In Suffolk, Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society received two instalments of funding through the Bright Ideas programme in 2017 totalling £15,780 for early stage work in their campaign to save Shotley Pier. 

Sally Chicken from Shotley Heritage Group said: “The Bright Ideas Fund has been terrific at providing us an early stage opportunity to get our ideas off to a good start and gave our group a wonderful vote of confidence. This helped our group and potential funders see what could be possible, and we have gone on to buy our pier and start work.” 

Locality Chief Executive Tony Armstrong said: “Whether you aim to start a local bus service, or set up a health and wellbeing centre, community businesses generate jobs, tackle social isolation and boost the local economy we want you to apply. People all over England are bursting with bright ideas and we are really keen to find them in the areas that need them most like Bradford, Leicester, Hartlepool, Plymouth, Grimsby, Liverpool and Bristol.” 

Kate Stewart, Director of Programmes at Power to Change, said: “We’re delighted to be continuing Bright Ideas, to provide crucial support and funding for local people who have a great idea but need some support to make it a reality. We’ve had some incredible applications come in already but we believe there are even more bright ideas out there so please do get involved and apply.” 

The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will be open for applications from Tuesday 6 August and will close on Monday 30 September. 

For further information about the fund, visit mycommunity.org.uk/bright-ideas-fund/

Sue Wilcock