Yesterday saw me attend my final event as a member of the Power to Change business panel. I didn't have to leave so soon, but this autumn will see me become a full time university student. I'll be studying for an MA in Biography & Creative Non-Fiction at UEA. So I am in the process of letting my old life go, so that I can fully embrace my future.
I've really enjoyed working with Power to Change. They are perhaps the most pragmatic charity I've encountered, set up to champion and support the fast growing community business sector. As public support for Norwich Mustard, which I co-founded, clearly showed, people are increasingly willing to take control. Many shops, pubs and communty centres are in community ownership. So too can a mustard company, especially in Norwich!
Community busineses earn their income, delivering products and services and often creating employment and opportunity for vulnerable people. Not surprisingly, when you co-own your local shop, you use it and so almost all community businesses are successful. They may need grants, social investment and a community share issue to get started, but then sustain themselves from the money they earn.
The Guardian recently reported that fewer people are giving money to charity. This I think is further evidence of the opportunity facing the community business centre. You may be reluctant to drop a fiver in a collecting tin, but you'll happily spend it on coffee and cake in a community owned cafe.
Of course I would be foolish to think that a lifetime of entrepreneurial activity will not inform and direct my writing. I will be drawing on experience and I hope, writing books and other material that challenges false assumptions and helps people confront their prejudices.