Village SOS – Big Lottery Fund

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Village SOS: Supporting communities through an Outreach programme to become more Sustainable.[edit]

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has received close to £1.4m from the Big Lottery Fund to lead a nationwide partnership of eight organisations that will help and inspire rural communities across the UK to set up community and social enterprisess.

The two-year learning, outreach and engagement campaign comes on the back of Big Lottery Fund’s Village SOS funding programme which ended in 2011 and will help communities start their own enterprising projects – from setting up a car share scheme, or gardening project growing local produce to opening a café or cinema.

How will it work?[edit]

The focus of the campaign will be a ‘community-to-community’ learning network, which will see volunteers from social enterprises across the UK become mentors who are available share the secrets of their success.

The volunteers along with a network of local support organisations will offer their time, support, experience and expertise and will point projects and enterprises in the direction of potential funding sources as well as develop business plans.

A central ‘Rural Hub’, managed by ACRE, will match each new enterprise with a local grassroots support organisation, who will offer support and advice ranging from how to plan a project to building a brand.

How do I get involved?[edit]

You can sign up now to become a member of Village SOS. It’s free and you will receive regular updates about projects, events and funding sources - plus a copy of our 96-page book How To Create A Successful Community Enterprise. Or why not come along to one of our free drop-in events in Bristol on 21 February 2015 or Darlington on 28 February 2015? Further events will be held in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - dates to be announced shortly.

Village SOS partners[edit]

The grassroots support will be provided in England by ACRE’s Network of 38 rural community councils; in Wales by Wales Council for Voluntary Action; in Scotland by Senscot and Forth Sector; and in Northern Ireland by Rural Community Network.

The campaign will be supported by a national expert panel and will begin with a three-month research project led by consultants Rose Regeneration and Rocket Science.

== External links ==

Village SOS 2009 - 2011[edit]

The first Village SOS programme was established by The UK's Big Lottery Fund to provide economic regeneration funding for rural communities. The programme was announced in early 2009 and villages were invited to bid for the money in a competition-style bidding process. First round application had to be submitted in August 2009and over 20 villages from across the UK won through to round two.

The Village SOS programme stood out from funding programmes run by the Big Lottery Fund. Firstly the final six successful villages would each be filmed by BBC Wales for a TV series presented by Sarah Beeny and secondly a 'Village Champion' would be required to move into each successful village and work with the community to develop the projects. The second round applications started with a 'speed-dating' exercise where the round-two villages met with potential village champions. Each village identified three potential champions and each champion selected three potential villages. Final interviews took place in each village.

Round two applications were funded by a £20,000 development grant and involved writing a detailed Business Plan and Capital Delivery Plan. These had to be completed by March 2010 and in May 2010, each village had to give a 20 minute presentation to the BIG board members who selected the final six villages. In the end ten villages were chosen, six of whom were to be filmed by the BBC and the remainder who received only the 'Learning Awards'. The village champions were to be paid by BIG and not from the (up to) £400,000 grants.

The six successful villages were Tideswell, in the heart of then Peak District National Park, Caistor in Lincs and Newstead in Nottinghamshire. Two villages are located in Wales: Myddfai in Carmarthenshire and Talgarth in Powys. The final village was Honey Street in Wiltshire. The Learning Awards villages are Howy in Powys, Lochinver in Sutherland, Ballygally in County Antrim and West Wemyss in Fife.

Following the BBC1 broadcast in August and September 2011, a Learning Campaign - Village SOS Active - has been launched to encourage rural communities to regenerate through business enterprise. Development grants will be available to villages who wish to work up their ideas into a business plan. A national and a series of regional conferences will be run in late 2011 to enable communities to learn from existing projects and share ideas.

Examples of the regeneration process[edit]

Six projects received BIG lottery funding and were filmed by the BBC as part of Village SOS; Caistor in North Lincolnshire, Newstead in Nottinghamshire, Myddfai and Talgarth in South Wales, Tideswell in the Peak District and Honeystreet, Wiltshire.

The Peak District village of Tideswell won one of the Village SOS grants. In a bid to help keep its village shops open and thriving - the village has lost over 20 shops in the past ten years - Taste Tideswell was created. Taste Tideswell aims to reconnect local people with their food and make Tideswell famous as a food destination. The activities that Taste Tideswell are undertaking fall under the following headings: Grow It, Cook It, Make It, Sell It and Share It. Taste Tideswell is a not-for-profit social enterprise and consists of two companies Taste Tideswell Ltd and Taste Tideswell (Trading) Ltd. The companies are run by a board of volunteer directors who meet on a monthly basis