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Rural community projects can get a free boost with Village SOS!

village sosThere is still time for rural community groups and projects to benefit from Community Action Suffolk’s free expert help through Village SOS (Support, Outreach & Sustainability).

Village SOS is a Lottery funded project administered by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) with the sole focus to help communities survive and thrive and become more enterprising. That might be by keeping services such as shops or playgroups alive for your village or by starting up a new enterprise that could create income to benefit your local area.

You may have a great idea for a project but are unsure of how to even start. Or your project may already be underway but has stalled due to lack of skills, funding or ideas. It doesn’t have to be a complete project you need help with, just one small part of it such as:

  • writing a new funding application or tweaking a failed one
  • writing a business plan
  • undertaking learning opportunities e.g. a village hall committee wishing to visit 4 other village halls to view their heating systems as they wish to upgrade their own to increase use of their hall
  • undertaking training e.g. basic food hygiene course to offer a catering service in their hall for hirers

There are 3 main eligibility criteria:

  • The project must be in a rural area with a population of less than 10,000
  • The project must be focused on starting, improving or retaining a local service e.g. playgroup, community shop, village hall
  • Have willing participation from the community to take it forward

How the Village SOS Process Works

  1. A community has a great idea of improving/retaining/starting a service but needs support to get moving
  2. The community group registers with Village SOS or CAS can register the project on behalf of the community group
  3. ACRE will contact the group and perform a diagnostic via phone or email to find out the project basics and what help is required.
  4. ACRE will contact Community Action Suffolk to put them in contact with the community group who will then make contact with them
  5. Community Action Suffolk works with the community group to create an action plan which can be delivered by the group over approx.1-3 months
  6. A small amount of funding is available to each member project which is administered by Community Action Suffolk) and can be spent on a wide variety of activities such as:-
    • Running a consultation event
    • Travel expenses for learning visits
    • Training courses
    • Business planning
  7. There are also a number of Mentors available across the UK who can provide specialist support and advice. Any expenses relating to their support such as travel or hire of video conference suite will be paid for from the allocated funding.
  8. Funding is claimed retrospectively once the action plan is complete.
  9. There is a bonus £275 available for Enterprise Support Activity such as a new business registration or changing the type of enterprise
  10. New project registrations will be accepted until July 2016 with action plans to be completed by the end of August 2016.

For further information or to register your project, visit Village SOS or contact Community Action Suffolk:

Sarah Mortimer
Senior Development Officer – Rural & Communities Issues
01473 345318 / 07901 914568
sarah.mortimer@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk