Setting up shop in church
A five-way partnership has today published guidance for churches interested in hosting community shops on their premises - The Guidelines and Best Practice for the Provision of Community Shops in Churches and Chapels.
Building on the knowledge and experience gained by pioneering examples of shops in churches, the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England and the National Rural Officers for the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church (based at the Arthur Rank Centre) have been working in partnership with the Plunkett Foundation to produce guidance specifically for churches and chapels who are interested in hosting shops.
Hosting shops in church buildings provides a very important community service, particularly for small or isolated rural communities.
The Rt Revd James Bell, Bishop of Knaresborough and Chair of the C of E's Rural Affairs Group, said: "Church buildings may often be the only community space in a village or a deprived urban area and can provide the perfect location for a community-owned shop. The building can provide not only the space but also the volunteer support and enthusiasm needed for serving the community in this way."
There are currently more than 250 community shops in England, Scotland and Wales and each year 20 or more open for business. Some of these are finding premises within churches and chapels although not all the suggested facilities may be suitable for church buildings.
· St John'sthe Evangelist at Moggenhanger in Bedfordshire led the way and opened a shop in the vestry back in 2000 part funded by a Millennium Award. It is run entirely by volunteers on behalf of the village and is recognized to be providing a real service in a village where there are no other amenities. The website at http://www.moggerhangerchurch.co.uk/ provides more information and pictures.
· St Giles, Langford, Chelmsford opened Heavenly Supplies in their vestry in February 2009 after one of the churchwardens won a £10,000 prize from Essex County Council in answer to the question "What would you do for your community if you had £10,000?" . Again this is providing a vital service and helping to return the church to the centre of community life. To find out more go to http://www.churchcare.co.uk/pdf_view.php?id=80
· And in January 2010, St Leonard's, Yarpole in Herefordshire completed the project to move the village shop and post office into the church and have saved both facilities for their village as well as giving the parish church a long term future. To read more go to: http://www.churchcare.co.uk/pdf_view.php?id=81
The Guidelines and Best Practice for the Provision of Community Shops in Churches and Chapels is available on the ChurchCare website at http://www.churchcare.co.uk/develop.php?FN and on the Arthur Rank Centre website at http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/ and also on the Plunkett Foundation website at http://www.plunkett.co.uk/whatwedo/rcs/ruralcommunityshops.cfm.
The Arthur Rank Centre (ARC) is the Churches' rural resources centre, based in Warwickshire. It is a partnership between the churches, the Rank Foundation and the Royal Agricultural Society of England. It is ecumenical in nature and seeks to serve rural communities and their churches through innovation and development, information provision and advocacy. Through ecumenical networks of Rural Officers and Agricultural Chaplains, the ARC has direct links with rural communities and farmers. (http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/)
The Plunkett Foundation is a leading national charity supporting rural communities who want to tackle a problem through community enterprise and ownership. It provides practical support for rural community owned shops through start-up to trading and long term business success. It runs various programmes of support including telephone, on-line and face-to-face advisory services, an on-line network and forum as well as grant and advice packages.