Village SOS

Village SOS campaign ready to get rural projects off the ground

Rural residents who want make a real difference in their community are being urged to sign up to the Village SOS campaign.

The £1.4m Big Lottery funded campaign will enable rural community enterprises nationwide – from car-sharing schemes to community cafes – to flourish.

Led by rural network ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Village SOS will offer volunteers a package of advice and support to get projects off the ground.Village SOS March 2015 Newsletter image

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 Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, that support will be provided by West of England Rural Network (WERN), 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 funds.

“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 our website at www.villagesos.org.uk

“If your project is suitable, we’ll put you in touch with WERN 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.”

Dick Whittington, WERN Project Manager 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.  For local enquiries contact Dick Whittington at WERN, telephone 01275 333701 or email dick@wern.org.uk.

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.

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