Village SOS campaign ready to get rural projects off the ground
The £1.4m Big Lottery funded Village SOS campaign will enable rural community enterprises
nationwide, from car-sharing schemes to community cafes, to flourish.
Led by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Village SOS will offer volunteers
a package of advice and support to get projects off the ground.
It will inspire communities by matching them with someone in the UK who has already
‘been there and done that’, and will offer expert mentoring through a local support
organisation. In Staffordshire, that support will be provided by the Community Council
of Staffordshire, a member of the national ACRE network of rural community councils.
Village SOS Community Manager, Chris Cowcher, said: “We really want to hear from
people who want to breathe new life into their local community. Perhaps you’ve got
a great idea for a project but don’t know where to start – or maybe you’ve already
started an enterprise but need help with business planning, marketing or raising
“Whatever you want to do – whether it’s starting a creche or saving the village shop
– Village SOS can help. To sign up, all you need to do is visit the Village SOS website.
“If your project is suitable, we’ll put you in touch with the Community Council of
Staffordshire who can help you create an action plan at your pace. You could also
be matched with a Village SOS mentor from a community in the UK who has already had
success with a similar project. Communities learning from communities is at the core
of what we want to achieve.”
Chris Welch, Chief Executive of the Community Council of Staffordshire, said: “More
and more rural communities are doing it for themselves, with volunteers at the heart
of making things happen.
“You don’t have to think big. While your project might be about opening a shop, it
could equally be about bringing in supplies to your village from elsewhere to help
those who cannot drive.
“We are ready to help, so if you have a great idea that will reinvigorate or revitalise
your community, now is the time to get involved.”
The Village SOS campaign has got off to a flying start with community workshops in
Bristol and Darlington – and more than 120 people have already signed up as mentors
for potential projects.
To sign up for support, or to become a mentor, please visit www.villagesos.org.uk
or call Chris Cowcher on 01285 653477.
The two-year learning, outreach and engagement Village SOS campaign is delivered
in England by ACRE and its network of 38 rural community councils; in Wales by WCVA
(Wales Council for Voluntary Action) in Scotland by Senscot and Forth Sector; and
in Northern Ireland by Rural Community Network.