Uncovering the potential of community businesses in health and care

23 November 2021 · Categories: Communities Care, Innovators Learn

What a great start to my Community Catalysts journey! I’m on a mission to explore opportunities for community businesses to improve care within communities.

So, what do we mean by a community business?

Community businesses are run by local people for the benefit of the local community – they sell services or products that benefit the community, and seek to empower and involve local people in the running of the business. Check out this useful video to learn more about community businesses.

Community businesses come in all shapes and sizes but have the same purpose in common – they listen and respond to what matters to local people and they unleash the strengths that already exist within communities, to co-produce creative solutions to improve local health and wellbeing.

Meeting community businesses and enterprises

An obvious starting point for me was to visit established community businesses on my doorstep, including Burton Street, Heeley City Farm and Heeley Trust in Sheffield.  They, like many businesses, had to adapt and pivot during the pandemic. They made sure people who could no longer attend services didn’t become isolated, by visiting them and ensuring they had essential supplies.

I’ve also connected with community enterprises who were originally supported by Community Catalysts to get set up and who have now grown in size due to the demand for their quality services – Funky Fitness and Fun, Art Works, Space Inclusive and Dexx Life Skills Centre. I’ve been struck by how these community enterprises have supported people with learning disabilities to become part of a community, to feel a sense of belonging and be valued within the community.

Some community enterprises have morphed into community businesses as they’ve evolved, diversified and become further integrated into their community. Pulp Friction initially started out with a mum, daughter and a smoothie bike, but have developed into a catering business and day service (plus evening and weekend activities) for adults with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire. Food is sourced via Fareshare, and any waste food goes to the worms on-site, to help make compost. The compost is handy for growing fruit and veg in the allotment for the smoothies. During Covid, like many others, they went online. They also made use of the local pub kitchen and used the Fareshare food to produce 300 meals per week and food parcels, as part of their local mutual aid group.

A massive thank you to everyone who has taken the time out to share their stories. Your determination to enable people to live independent and fulfilled happier lives is heartening and inspiring.

Want to get involved? Get in touch…

Unsurprisingly, I’m keen to hear more and find out what support community businesses need to get started, grapple with regulation and generate income to realise ambitions. I’m keen to connect with other community businesses who offer care to people within their communities – please get in touch at: naomi.sampson@communitycatalysts.co.uk

The community business project will run until October 2022 and is funded by Power to Change.

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