Setting up the Bythams Community Shop Project

After the last two remaining shops serving the villages of Castle Bytham and Little Bytham in Lincolnshire closed a group of us came together to see how we could provide a shop for the local community.

Like many villages the Bythams had serious 'rural isolation' issues - poor public transport links, an aging population and, together with a substantial younger cohort without transport when the breadwinner commuted to work.
With advice from the Plunkett Foundation we identified our model of a shop and café to provide a long term solution for the community.

From the outset we wanted to complete the project without saddling the project with debt. Through a mix of grants, bridging loan, community shares and match funding, we are very confident we can cover set up costs of our - of construction, equipment, stock and initial staff and insurance.

We want to minimise the building overheads through renewable energy resources and insulation which has focussed our fundraising targets. We’ve fundraised to cover our planning application and how we communicate the project with the local community.

Communicating the project with our community

Our Bright Ideas grant, found through Funding Central, has been most helpful, enabling us to consulate through a community events, our website and Facebook. This funding especially helped with the promotion of our community shares, we have 120 current shareholders and growing.

We often recommend Funding Central to others. We could not have developed the project without these grants found through the site.

Tips for others

  • Look at as many similar projects and case studies. If you can visit them and have a face to face discussion. Go to workshops and meetings to learn from other experiences, both good and bad.
  • Invest the time to keep your community engaged, especially when projects will take time. We have a monthly article in our parish magazine, as well as our own website and Facebook account.
  • Be realistic!

Peter Hinton, Bythams Community Shop Project