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  • Writer's pictureRichard Hammond

Community Run Enterprises

Tapping into community-run ventures and social enterprises is a great way to get into the heart and soul of a place while giving back to the places you love to visit. Some of these hubs are run as non-profits, others are run by passionate local people and volunteers and wouldn’t exist without their commitment.


Here are five brilliant community run enterprises in the UK:


exterior of a community run shop
Community-run village shop in Mells, near Frome, Somerset. Photo: Richard Hammond

1 THE VILLAGE SHOP

In the historic Somerset village of Mells, the shop and post office is run by a team of about 50 volunteers, rotating shifts, job- sharing, fundraising and caring for the window displays and plants. It supports a wide range of local producers, including cold meats from Thorner’s of Somerset and home-baked cakes from Frome Country Market. The community also raised funds to build a café next door to the shop, which was opened by Mary Berry and serves hearty breakfasts, home-cooked lunches and teas seven days a week. mellsvillage.co.uk


2 THE PUB

interior of community run pub
Photo: Pack Horse Inn

The Pack Horse Inn is a 17th century pub in the village of South Stoke on the outskirts of Bath, and was given a makeover when it was bought by the local community in 2016. The interior has a wonderful olde English charm with inglenooks and ancient beams, while outside there’s a lovely beer garden from where you can feast on locally inspired dishes and sup cider and local ale looking out over the glorious Midford Valley. packhorsebath.co.uk


PUB IS THE HUB

Inspired by Prince Charles in 2001, Pub is the Hub is a not-for-profit organisation that works to strengthen the connection between pubs and their local communities. There are over 150 across the UK, including many that have diversified into other retail outlets, such as delis, bakeries, farm shops, and village stores. To find one near you, search pubisthehub.org.uk


3 THE RESTAURANT

man serving food
Photo: Brigade Bar + Bistro

Brigade Bar + Bistro is in a beautiful old Victorian fire station near London Bridge Station, serving brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s run by a social enterprise, Beyond Food, that helps homeless people get into work by giving them work experience in the kitchens and training them to become chefs. thebrigade.co.uk



4 THE ARTS CENTRE

Dartington Trust is an arts, ecology and social justice charity, which runs a social-enterprise hub for retreats, festivals and summer schools as well as a visitor centre on a 1,200-acre estate near Totnes in South Devon. There’s a campsite, hostel- style rooms and a fisherman’s cabin next to the River Dart. Explore the glorious gardens and deer park trails and dine on local food in the medieval Great Hall. dartington.org


5 THE HERITAGE CENTRE

Maidenhead Heritage Centre is run mainly by volunteers to showcase the history of the town, particularly the operations of the Air Transport Auxiliary, whose headquarters was at White Waltham Airfield during the Second World War. The star attraction is the Spitfire Simulator Experience, where you can sit in the pilot’s seat of a Spitfire rigged up to a wide-screen electronic simulator and get a taste of the thrill of flying these awesome machines. maidenheadheritage.org.uk


This article also appeared in the February/March 2024 issue of the Green Traveller magazine.

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