New guidance for churches setting up shop

The Church of England, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have teamed up to produce guidance for churches and chapels interested in hosting shops.

Churches already host more than 250 community shops in England, Scotland and Wales, with around 20 opening each year for business.

They are particularly vital service providers in small or isolated rural communities.

The guidance is the result of collaboration between the Plunkett Foundation, 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.

It draws on the knowledge and experiences of churches that have already pioneered shops on their premises.

The Rt Rev James Bell, Bishop of Knaresborough and Chair of the Church of England’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.”

Some churches have been able to open up shops after receiving grants and awards.

St Giles in Langford, Chelmsford, opened the Heavenly Supplies stores in their vestry in 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?".

One of the very first community shops in a church was opened back in 2000 by St John's the Evangelist at Moggerhanger in Bedfordshire. It was part funded by a Millennium Award and is run entirely by volunteers, enabling the church to provide a crucial service in a village where there are no other amenities.

The Guidelines and Best Practice for the Provision of Community Shops in Churches and Chapels is available on the ChurchCare website at www.churchcare.co.uk/develop.php?FF and on the Arthur Rank Centre website at www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk and also on the Plunkett Foundation website at www.plunkett.co.uk/whatwedo/rcs/ruralcommunityshops.cfm

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