Power to Change - putting business in community hands

Image of flag with 'we love community business' text

Summer Brooks, Communications Coordinator at Power to Change, an independent charitable trust, tells us more about the work that Power to Change does with community businesses throughout England. 

Can you tell us about how and why Power to Change started?

Power to Change launched in 2015 to support and grow community businesses in England through innovative funding, support programmes and research. With an £150m endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund, we set about helping existing community businesses to expand, support people to start new ones, and shape the market so that they can thrive.

Run by local people, trading for the benefit of local people, community businesses provide the services that our neighbourhoods need to make them thrive. They are, like Coin Street, profit-generating businesses that reinvest in their communities through a multitude of different services.

What types of organisations does Power to Change work with and why is their work important?

Community businesses come in all shapes and sizes; we’ve funded lidos, pubs, shops, libraries, bakeries, farms, theatres and cinemas to name just a few. Our energy programmes have pioneered innovative community energy projects, whilst our work in the housing sector has helped groups across the country explore and build community housing that is truly tailored to the needs of local people.

Community businesses retain local wealth and prosperity – for every pound spent in a community business 56p stays in the local economy. For people furthest away from the job market, they create good jobs and training opportunities. They spearhead regeneration, much like Coin Street has done for its neighbourhood, breathing new life into neglected buildings and green spaces by taking on their ownership and management.

Why did you choose to work with Coin Street? 

When the pandemic hit in March last year, we knew we had to help community businesses, many of whom were still working on the front line to deliver essential services, to continue their vital work. We paused our regular programmes and pivoted to create a new emergency fund – the Trading Income Support Scheme (TISS) – and opened it up to our previous grantees, as well as organisations who were members of our key partners – Locality, Coops UK and Plunkett Foundation. Through this fund, we helped organisations like Coin Street to mitigate the impact of losing their income due to the pandemic.

Coin Street delivers a plethora of essential services to its community. They were awarded £25,000 through TISS and as a result they could continue to support local people through what continues to be a very challenging time. The fund helped Coin Street to keep two vital members of staff to continue and expand activities including a weekly Upgrade Yourself homework tutoring club and Weekly Youth Forum sessions, supporting young people in the area to continue learning from home.

You can find out more about Power to Change and community business at www.powertochange.org.uk