About Alison Brown

Head of Business Services at Cambridgeshire ACRE

Village SOS campaign ready to get rural projects off the ground

Rural residents who want make a real difference in their community are being urged to sign up to the Village SOS campaign.

The £1.4m Big Lottery funded campaign will enable rural community enterprises nationwide – from car-sharing schemes to community cafes – to flourish.

Led by rural network ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Village SOS will offer volunteers a package of advice and support to get projects off the ground. It will inspire communities by matching them with someone in the UK who has already ‘been there and done that’, and will offer expert mentoring through a local support organisation.

In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, that support will be provided by Cambridgeshire ACRE, a member of the national ACRE Network of rural community councils. Village SOS Community Manager Chris Cowcher said:

“We really want to hear from people who want to breathe new life into their local community. Perhaps you’ve got a great idea for a project but don’t know where to start – or maybe you’ve already started an enterprise but need help with business planning, marketing or raising funds. Whatever you want to do – whether it’s starting a creche or saving the village shop – Village SOS can help. To sign up, all you need to do is visit our website at www.villagesos.org.uk. If your project is suitable, we’ll put you in touch with Cambridgeshire ACRE who can help you create an action plan at your pace. You could also be matched with a Village SOS mentor from a community in the UK who has already had success with a similar project. Communities learning from communities is at the core of what we want to achieve.”

Cambridgeshire ACRE’s Chief Executive Kirsten Bennett said:

“Village SOS gives a wonderful opportunity for rural communities to get the support they need in order to start or grow rural community enterprises across the County. You don’t have to think big. While your project might be about opening a shop, it could equally be about bringing in supplies to your village from elsewhere to help those who cannot drive. We are ready to help, so if you have a great idea that will reinvigorate or revitalise your community, now is the time to get involved.”

To sign up for support, or to become a mentor, please visit www.villagesos.org.uk or call Chris Cowcher on 01285 653477.