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What is a community enterprise?

There are many working definitions of what the term “Community Enterprise” stands for, but one of the better explanations is on the Big Lottery website and with so many groups looking for Big Lottery funding this has become a common reference point for many organisations.

In our experience, community enterprises come in all shapes and sizes and have a range of different business models and constitutions.
Examples of just how wide the range can be are shown in the list below of some of the organisations we are currently working with as part of the Durham Sparks programme;

  • A sole trader who has operated on a part time basis for 30 years advising and supporting charities and community groups to be better businesses and offer stronger products and services.
  • A private limited company with strong social values that manages a farm but alongside that targets subsidised activities for older people, people with disabilities and children plus providing accessible job opportunities for local people.
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  • A not for profit organisation involved in alternative education programmes for children with special needs and behavioural issues as well as ex-forces and people with disabilities that uses equine therapy and forestry/land management skills as the basis for that education.
  • A not for profit organisation that has just started trading that wants to deliver Forest School learning and experiences for pre-school and early years children on land managed and owned by natural England.
  • A not for profit organisation that is looking to establish a specialist centre to support people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is developing a business plan to provide better community based support with the potential to establish a residential centre for respite care and emergency support.

Other examples include a number of new start and established groups who want to make use of underused or closed buildings (former pubs and clubs, a cinema, a church hall, a leisure site and even a lake).

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What’s the common pattern?

They all want to help other people; they all have a clear approach to social responsibility and want to help make local communities more inclusive, sustainable and liveable.

If you or a group you are part of have an idea for any sort of economic activity that could help make a difference in your community, local area or even across the county as a whole please get in touch with the team here at Durham Sparks and we will be delighted to have an informal discussion with you about that idea and how it might be best progressed.

Some ideas never quite work out but there is no harm in talking them through to see what potential might be there to be tapped into.

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