The new community enterprise service, Community Shares Scotland (CSS) is going out on the road this month, to bring their new national investment programme directly to more remote communities in Harris and the Western Isles.
One of the first roadshows of its kind, it is a new way of building skill and practice around community shares. This alternative funding method allows communities to develop their own projects and invest in their own futures.
CSS was launched in May in Scotland, with the aim of growing the community business market through practical application and help people progress their own community businesses. The three-year programme involves a range of awareness raising and training activities, setting up an information service and providing direct support to communities and groups interested in launching their own community share offer.
The training event, in Leverburgh Village Hall this month, is aimed at community groups and those interested in setting up a share offer and learn from those who have already been successful. The CSS team will be highlighting ways of engaging with the share service programme to help progress local community share projects on the Western Isles.
Commenting on the forthcoming training event, CSS Programme Manager, Kelly McIntyre said:
“Our main aim is to raise awareness of the community shares model and stimulate interest from groups and communities across Scotland in our planned series of roadshows. We chose Harris as one of the first stops on our schedule, as we have seen a concentration of interest in community projects in the Western Isles and are travelling there to make it easier for islanders to engage.
“We have also recognised a new wave of entrepreneurship right across Scotland and that community shares can trigger new projects and underpin some long-awaited community projects and businesses alike. As people become more confident about how community shares work, we predict a significant take-up in training and practice in the coming years.”
Ms McIntyre added: “This method of funding local businesses has already made a real impact across England and by using their first-hand experience, we can see this widen out to even more diverse applications across Scotland. Around 16 new community projects have made approaches to date, recognising the potential in their communities to take forward the community shares model including renewable energy projects, community buy-outs of local swimming pools and community health initiatives. Local people buying local shares to fund community businesses can only be a positive thing.”
Examples of local community share projects that are running successfully include the Port Appin, community shop in Argyll that has been running since 1983; Uig, Community shop, a vital local resource since 2004 on the Isle of Lewis; FC Unite, football club who play the home league at Gigg Lane in Bury and Green Valley Bakery, Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire.
CSS is made up of a consortium of partners, DTAS, Co-operatives UK, Locality, Plunkett Foundation and Rocket Science.