Posted by: bevmeldrum | December 20, 2007

Rural Social Enterprise – A Real Opportunity to Make a Real Difference

Photo by Eneko Alonso

Social Enterprise Magazine and the Plunkett Foundation have just released a booklet outlining what social enterprise is up to in rural areas.

I have just finished reading my copy and was excited by all of the work that is going on across the UK. There are some great ideas being put into action – the community buying their village shop, car sharing co-ops, childcare, community land trusts, community farms, energy projects – the list is endless.

My particular favourite is the story of the villagers of Hesket Newmarket in Cumbria that bought its local pub. The Old Crown is now owned by the community and was the first co-operatively owned pub in Britain. The pub nows houses a library, internet cafe, a cash back service in a village with no ATM, sells locally produced goods and has meeting rooms for hire.

The local pub is still the centre of many of our communities and trend amongst pubs to open up for coffee and lunches and as they become more child-friendly I have always thought that there is a real opportunity there for the local pub to become the real centre of the community.

Why not have local community services delivered from the pub, why not have local support groups there. And just maybe, if the community services are centred around the local pub couldn’t that be a great place to educate about responsible drinking – changing people’s attitudes to what the local pub is for.

And not just in rural communities. Surely, this could work in many communities – rich and poor, bearing cultural and religious differences in mind of course.

Where I live I have gastro-pubs to my right and traditional local pubs to my left serving two quite different communities and I think community based services in both would work. Maybe the local pub could become the community centre of the 21st century?

Download a copy of ‘Fresh Ideas: Rural Social Enterprise‘.

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