Last year I was invited to join the business panel of national charity Power to Change. They'd given me a grant at the very beginning of the Norwich Mustard journey, and I really liked their vision, which is to 'create better places through community business.'
Provided with a Big Lottery Fund endowment they've played a leading role in giving profile and support to people striving to set up and grow community busineses. My view has long been that just as the 19th century was the era of the family owned business, the 20th the era of the corporate, this current century will see the rise of the community business.
Mustard making in Norwich is a good example of this trend. Colman's Mustard was a family firm, that became part of Uinlever. 2019 will see production leave the city, with community owned Norwich Mustard filling the void. It means local people will be the shareholders in a new, local mustard company. It means mustard making will remain in the city for ever.
Power to Change business panel members can nominate new community led projects they see for a modest £500 grant. The panel vote on each application, with those supported by the majority, seeing the grant quickly, often within days of applying.
So when I read in the EDP about how villagers at Swanton Abbot are setting about saving their pub from closure, I put them forward for a grant. This was successful and will help them publicise the campaign. But perhaps more important than the money is the fact that they can say to other funders they have been backed by Power to Change. I've also been able to point them towards others able to help them navigate their way ahead.
But perhaps most importantly of all, is that people in the village believe they can succeed, and have stepped forward to make things happen. You see right now in the 21st century, each and every one of us really does have the power to change.