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.
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.
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 playgroup 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.
“We’ll put you in touch with a local support organisation that knows your patch and 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. “This is a nationwide campaign and we will be collecting and sharing the best examples of community action from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Communities learning from communities is at the heart of what we want to achieve.”
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.
Chris added: “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.”
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 Rocket Science, Senscot and Forth Sector; and in Northern Ireland by Rural Community Network.
Notes to editors
Village SOS was launched by the Big Lottery Fund in 2009 to seize the challenges and opportunities faced by people living in rural communities. It saw more than 160 innovative village projects come to fruition, from community shops to a community forest company. The Big Lottery Fund is keeping the spirit of this success alive with a new two-year Village SOS campaign, led by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), the national voice of England’s 38 rural community councils. It will help to keep communities alive and thriving by becoming more enterprising with the support of people who have already done it themselves. For more information, please contact Chris Cowcher on 01285 653477 ext 215.
Action with Communities in Rural England
ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is the national body for the 38 rural community councils (RCCs) who make up the ACRE Network. We speak up for rural communities on the national stage and deliver projects that enable our communities to find innovative solutions to the challenges they face.
The Big Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £33 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.