Meet our community business leaders - RSA

Meet our community business leaders


  • Economic democracy
  • Enterprise
  • Social enterprise

For the next five months these individuals will be part of a leadership development programme aimed at supporting the community businesses they are part of to become more sustainable and have more impact. For two days each month they'll take part in training sessions, covering finance to strategy, at locations throughout the South West, arming them with practical skills and with the opportunity to reflect on, and develop, their own leadership style.

Wendy Hart from Stonehouse Action, Plymouth

Stonehouse Action is a grassroots group formed over 20 years ago and works with, and for the people of Stonehouse. Their Committee is made of people who either live, volunteer or work in Stonehouse.

Their annual street party, which closes the iconic Union Street, attracts over 1500 local people showcasing local talent. People started asking them what they were doing to regenerate Union Street so they’ve bought a derelict shop, of over 25 years, back into use for the community: Union Corner.

The space is about keeping the spirit of the Union Street party going all year round and enabling the creativity of the community to be permanently displayed. It’s also about new connections, skills and a place to be.

Stonehouse Action have an ambition to do much more on Union Street to turn it back into a bustling vibrant street where the community plays an integral part in revitalisation so that Stonehouse becomes recognised as a creative entrepreneurial neighbourhood.


Jon Newey and Petronella Tyson from Coexist, Bristol

Since 2008 Coexist have a vision is of empowered local communities living in Coexistence - to live in harmony. Through long term, supportive engagement, and service provision at the grassroots of communities, Coexist delivers a huge range of social economic and environmental benefits, including local regeneration, personal development and community building.

The organisation has grown organically, meeting the changing needs of the communities in and around Stokes Croft; transformed 55,000 square foot of empty office block into a vibrant community hub Hamilton House; and supported the development of an alternative development model for community assets with its key partner, Connolly and Callaghan Ltd.

They will continue to respond to what is needed by the community within and without the building. Their direction and action has a single purpose - to support innovative solutions for all. This means personal, social and collective, within and without the space they facilitate, and for current and future generations.


Judith Hann from The Poly, Falmouth

The Poly is a wonderful organisation set up in 1833 with the aim to bring together people who were keen to see development and economic growth in Cornwall through eliciting ‘the inventive powers of the young through advancement of the useful arts’. They have a cinema/theatre space seating 180, 3 gallery spaces, a bar and a wonderful historic environment that needs lots of love and care. This is an exciting part of Falmouth’s history and a wonderful community resource. Their tag line of 1833 to tomorrow says it all about their ambition to continue being a long standing part of the town’s cultural heart.


Rob Savage from The Ardagh, Bristol

Horfield Common Community Interest Company has been founded by three established community and voluntary organisations to progress a capital project which aims to bring the Ardagh Sports Facility in the centre of Horfield Common, Bristol back into full use through Bristol City Council’s Community Asset Transfer Scheme.

Currently, they provide a café facility and bookable rooms for activities, and are awaiting confirmation that they have been successful in achieving investment funding from the Lawn Tennis Association, Sport England and Bristol City Council to improve the 11 (currently dilapidated) tennis courts on the site to provide accessible sports facilities including tennis courts, a multi-use games area and a natural swimming pool for use by the local community.


Katy Bevan from Chalford Stores

Chalford is one of the largest villages in England with a population of approx. 7,000 people spread throughout a hilly valley with poor access with some roads too narrow for cars. There are buses to Stroud, 4 miles away, but these are few and far between. The community, determined to keep a local shop to serve this population, have created a cooperative community store, run for and by the community. With funding from a community share offer, this establishment is set to be an important part of village life well into the future.


Naomi Griffith from Onion Collective, Watchet

Onion Collective is a Social Enterprise founded by a group of ambitious but socially-minded citizens in West Somerset. They aim to harness and develop the collective expertise built-up during various career paths and bring it to bear for social and community benefit, driving forward community-based projects with energy, passion and realism.

They are a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, taking an enterprising approach to maximise improvements in community and environmental well-being for the people of West Somerset and beyond. Onion Collective’s goal is to operate a portfolio of exciting, successful, sustainable and mutually supporting projects – all for community benefit.


Fiona Ollerhead from The Pantry Partnership, Salisbury

Pantry Partnership use food to create social momentum, helping people out of food poverty, enhancing life skills and reducing social isolation. Their clubs, activities and pop up cafes provide cooking essentials to positively impact people’s health and empower them to create sustainable work for themselves.

They proudly won the 2014 Wiltshire Healthy Eating Award for adults and children following work with The Alzheimer’s Society. In 2015 they secured our plot of land and started to run our Surplus Supper Clubs to broaden our reach in the community. As time goes on the work continues, the plot flourishes and the team provide the energy and enthusiasm to keep on growing.


Sefton Paine from The Seed, Buckfastleigh

The Seed is a pioneering project which seeks to revolutionise the value and accessibility of naturally grown foods full of nourishment and vitality to the local community of Buckfastleigh and beyond.

The Seed believes in breaking down the barriers attached to buying organic and natural foods so that all members of the community whatever their income and lifestyle can feel empowered and able to access good healthy food options. Even more than this The Seed aims to provide the opportunity for people to connect with others and become more aware of the community around them through the medium of food in an attempt to reduce isolation and improve overall wellbeing.

Through bringing healthy and nourishing food to everyone regardless of their budget or circumstance, The Seed aims to promote and support residents of Buckfastleigh and surrounding areas in making food choices which are healthy for their body and mind, the local economy and to the environment.

Jenny Coles from Plymouth Energy Community

13.4% of Plymouth households live in fuel poverty...

In essence they have to choose between a healthy, heated home and food on the table. The city also contends with a largely inefficient housing stock.

In line with its co-operative ethos, Plymouth City Council (PCC) recognised community energy as a potential solution to rising fuel poverty and carbon emissions. They provided a start-up loan and grant, got together founder members and after much community engagement, helped formulate a business plan for a new community energy group in the city. In July 2013, Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) was born. With 100 founder members, the Council passed entire control to a newly formed Board of volunteer Directors from across the community.

After starting with a simple switching and advice service, PEC quickly started applying for funding and collaborating with a range of organisations in the quest to change Plymouth’s energy future.

This has evolved to include affordable or free insulation and boiler schemes, a fuel debt advice service, a home energy team, a volunteering and training programme and a health service referral pilot project. For further information about these services, please visit Help & support services.

Anyone can become a member of PEC; membership has grown to over 1200 individuals and organisations.


Dee Lalljee and Andrew Davey from Crediton Community Bookshop

Crediton Community Bookshop are passionate about making a difference in their community by inspiring reading and literacy. As a social enterprise they trade for the benefit of the community, investing in local projects and working collaboratively with individuals and partner organisations including schools, libraries and literary festivals. Their aim is to provide a brilliant service; create accessible meeting spaces for events & workshops; and develop a volunteer programme tailored to the needs of individuals.

They are the only independent bookshop in Mid Devon. Community Owned since 2013. A recent grant from Power to Change has enabled them to move to bigger, better premises on the High Street.

Our day-to-day activities are supervised by our paid manager and our fantastic volunteer team who help to staff the shop, manage administrative tasks & organise activities both at the shop and further afield.


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