Community groups benefit from Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme

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Community organisations in Suffolk are emerging in to a brighter future amid the uncertainty of Covid-19 thanks to the vital help and support of the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme.

Those to receive a timely boost from the scheme include the Lavenham Community Hub in Lavenham, the Cross Keys pub in Redgrave, and The Racehorse pub in Westhall.

Under the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme community organisations have been able to receive specialist support on a range of areas including business planning, volunteer recruitment, cash flow advice and accessing funding.

The scheme, a partnership between Hopkins Homes and the Plunkett Foundation, launched earlier this summer and community organisations have approached the scheme for advice and to receive visits from the Plunkett advisers both online and in person.

As with so many businesses across the country, lockdown brought a temporary pause to the plans of The Racehorse, in Westhall. But the community were determined to carry on providing what services they could – and thanks to the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme, help was at hand.

Brenda Smith, secretary of the community pub, explained: “During the lockdown period we worked hard to keep our project alive by organising food and prescription deliveries. This has led us to set up a shop in the pub and we organised takeaway evenings with beer and food. All of this was achieved by volunteers, whose main aim is to help maintain community spirit.”

Although the pub had reopened its doors, Hopkins Plunkett Community Scheme helped the group adjust to the new challenges of operating under Covid-19.

Brenda added: “The professional help that we have been given by the Hopkins Plunkett support grant has really helped us to maintain our enthusiasm. Hopkins Homes is a very well-known and admired company in our village as one of James Hopkins first building projects took place in Westhall.

“Our advisor Allan Collard came along to The Racehorse and gave us some much-needed encouragement to proceed with our project at a time when everyone is rather unsure about the future of the hospitality industry. It was really important for us to be reminded that The Racehorse is now fulfilling the role of a community hub.”

The Racehorse has started to attract a number of groups including a book club and garden club. It is also considering extending its opening hours, offer free wi-fi and has been in discussion with the Post Office about opening a counter services.

Community-owned and community-run businesses of all types across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire have been eligible to apply for similarly tailored support.

James Hopkins, Executive Chairman and Founder of Hopkins Homes, said: “We established the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme to initially support community organisations struggling to see how they would, or could, survive against the considerable impact of Covid-19 on society.

“We wanted these organisations to know that help was available to them so they could smoothly navigate through any complications they are dealing with as a business.

“Hopkins Homes has its roots in Suffolk and we are particularly pleased to see the scheme support a range of organisations in the county.”

Community businesses can get in touch by emailing