Power to Change – Our Community Shop

Power to Change is a new initiative which will invest up to £150 million to support the development of sustainable community-led enterprises across England by early 2015. https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/powertochange

The economic climate has meant that many communities are experiencing challenges, at a local level. Empty shop premises and the closures of pubs, libraries, community centres and sports facilities affect rural and urban communities alike, and in particular those who need them most.
In response, many communities are coming together using creative approaches that involve local people and resources to improve their local neighbourhoods, villages and town centres. Solutions have included pop-up shops, transferring resources into the ownership of local residents, and using former commercial spaces to incubate social enterprises and cultural activities.

In short, community enterprises provide sustainable solutions. It is a commercially focussed business model, with one main difference it is community owned with a 100%  focus on supporting the needs of the community through its engagement,  services, re-invested profits and an employed or volunteer workforce whereever possible.

For inspiration on what can be achieved visit:

the Community Shops Website

Kent Community Shops Guidance

A Guide to Community Post Offices

Making the Connection – Local Post Offices as Community Hubs

Our Local Community Shop 

postofficeFairlight Post Office and Village Shop is up for sale – so is there potential for community ownership? 

Possible Benefits of Community Ownership 

Depending on the legal and financial model chosen, there are a number of possible benefits to a community owned enterprise:

  • Community board and ownership provides ongoing succession strategy
  • The community can influence choice of products and services
  • The community can invest in return for benefits e.g. profit share or discounted products
  • An invested interest creates greater community buy-in to the shop’s future success.
  • It creates a sense of community and local cohesion
  • Community based workforce

Tell us your thoughts 

Heather Black, Managing Director of Economic Change CIC is a resident in Fairlight.

Heather has helped to develop social enterprises over the last 15 years, so she is wants to explore whether turning Fairlight Post Office and Shop into a social enterprise is of interest to local residents.

She is asking local residents to get involved and tell us what they think about the following questions:

Attend our Open Meeting on the 15th November at Fairlight Village Hall or take our online survey


  • SUPPORT – What do you currently access or purchase from Fairlight Post Office/Village shop?
  • FEEDBACK – Does anything deter you from using Fairlight Post Office and Shop?
  • IDEAS – What else could it offer you in regards to products or services?
  • INTEREST – Would you like to get involved in the planning, investing or just to be kept informed?

The information you provide will help the planning group to appriase and develop the community enterprise model is of interest OR it will just give us great feedback that we can pass on to a new vendor if it gets sold privately.

Either way this process will hopefully give local residents the chance to influence what the local shop provides in the future.

Next Steps – Oct 14 – December 2015

So far the response has been great to the idea,  but there is a lot more to do over the next six months.

  • We will form a planning group and formal management committee of key skills and expertise.
  • We will continue to do community consultation via survey, paper questionnaires and discussions groups.
  • We will undertake a best practice review of other community shops to shape ideas and talk to the experts.
  • We will engage with the current owners and discuss technicalities about the business and property on offer.
  • We will explore funding opportunities and legalities of favourable business models.
  • We will undertake a feasibility study report based on all of the findings.

January to March 2015

If the feasibility study and business plan stack up, we will pursue funding and investment options with the hope of putting an offer in March 2015.

Many Thanks

Heather Black

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