Housebuilder gives £50k to help ‘community lifelines’ survive winter

James Hopkins, executive chairman of Hopkins Homes

James Hopkins of Hopkins Homes whose company is offering a lifeline to community pubs and businesses in East Anglia to help them survive the winter - Credit: Lucy Taylor

A regional housebuilder which has given financial support to more than 35 community-run shops, pubs and businesses in East Anglia to survive the pandemic is planning to help more.

Hopkins Homes is ploughing a further £50,000 into the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme to help community enterprises to survive the winter months.

The scheme – a partnership between Hopkins Homes and national charity Plunkett Foundation – will ring-fence £10k specifically to provide specialist support to communities looking to set up new community-run pubs after a year in which thousands of pandemic-hit locals across the UK are thought to have closed.

Enterprises owned by local communities can draw on expert advice and support on issues ranging from governance, cash flow and business planning to volunteer management and tapping into support schemes. They can also apply for grants for specific projects.

James Hopkins, executive chairman and founder of the Woodbridge-based housebuilder, said they were “exceptionally pleased” to be extending our Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme – especially after hearing the “worrying news” that 2,500 pubs across the UK permanently closed their doors last year.

“Many community-run businesses have shown admirable resilience in finding ways to adapt their operations to meet the needs of their local area.

These organisations have proved a lifeline to many and we are determined to support them and help the local communities,” he said.

Most Read

Businesses which have benefited from the scheme so far include The Swan at Gressenhall, near East Dereham, which received free practical advice. The Duke of Marlborough, a community pub at Somersham, Ipswich, was awarded a grant of nearly £1,000 to go towards increasing cold storage capacity. The Locks Inn at Geldeston, near Beccles, netted a £700 grant to purchase of gardening equipment to keep the outdoor area tidy.

Plunkett chief executive James Alcock said: “We are honoured to be a part of the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme and have been delighted by the hugely positive impact we have already seen across East Anglia.

The support from Hopkins Homes has proved invaluable to many community-run organisations during the pandemic. It has helped community businesses find solutions to staff shielding, establish new services such as home delivery or takeaway, and be a lifeline to many vulnerable residents.

“The specific fund for new community-run pubs is essential to support the future of the industry. Setting up a community-run pub poses different challenges and through this funding our experts will be able to help guide any East Anglian communities hoping to save or revitalise their local pub.”