People think that because rural areas in this country are generally affluent, they don’t have many of the problems that afflict cities and towns. But many rural villages across the UK are in decline, as businesses close, and shops and services disappear. This leaves many people, particularly those who are old and disabled, increasingly isolated.
So BIG and the BBC have joined together to create Village SOS, an initiative that supports new community-led business ventures, breathing new life into villages, creating new jobs and improving the quality of life of local people.
After a long search, six enterprising UK rural villages have won Big Lottery Fund investment of up to £400,000 to revive their communities through new enterprises. And, excitingly, their progress will be filmed by the BBC for a major new prime-time documentary series to be shown in 2011.
Each village is privileged to be able to draw on the expertise of their own “Village Champion“, a business expert who will live in the village for a year, using their knowledge and skills to get the local enterprise up-and-running.
Because the proposals we received were such a high quality, we’ve decided to award another four grants of around £400,000 as Village SOS Learning Awards. The Learning Campaign will support the main Village SOS initiative, as we hope to share lessons learnt with other villages so that they’ll be inspired to start their own new enterprises.
I’d like to wish all our winning villages good luck in getting their enterprises up-and-running and hope that their efforts have a wider impact on rural revival in this country.
We’re supporting our villages by setting up an online community where they can share and discuss ideas about their business ventures.
Everything on the site will be added by the villages themselves and this is a brilliant opportunity for us to follow their progress.
You can visit the Village SOS community at: www.villagesos.org.uk