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Village SOS: BIG and BBC join forces to inspire UK rural revival

A NEW Big Lottery Fund (BIG) scheme to help six rural villages across the UK to regenerate their communities through new business ventures is launching today in partnership with BBC One.

The search is also on for six enterprising and visionary individuals to become ‘Village Champions’ and work with the villages to help achieve their ambitions of starting a successful rural business. BBC One will be documenting the journey of the six villages and their Village Champions for a major prime time series in winter 2010.

Village SOS will challenge villages to come up with brilliant ideas for new businesses to help revive their communities, many of which are seeing rural life eroded by economic pressures and the closure of local amenities.

Village SOS will invite rural communities with lots of enthusiasm and a great business idea -from retailing to manufacturing, the arts to leisure - to apply for Lottery funding to help breathe new life into their area, create new jobs and improve the quality of life for local people.

Eighteen villages will be shortlisted to receive a development grant of up to £10,000, and will choose a ‘Village Champion’ to work with to advance their ideas. In May 2010 six projects will be awarded Lottery funding of up to £400,000 and their respective Village Champions will move into the villages for a year to help them turn their business idea into a reality.

BBC Wales will follow the stories of the six new rural enterprises from start up to trading for a major BBC One series in Winter 2010. The six-part series promises to be gripping entertainment for viewers as they follow the ups and downs as the Champion moves into their chosen village, and starts work on the business

The Village Champions will be recruited through a nationwide search run by the BBC and Make Your Mark, part of the charity Enterprise Insight. Champions could be anyone with a successful track record in business - banker, baker or builder - as long as they have the drive and charisma to launch a new venture, and the desire to live and work in a rural village for a year.

The BIG scheme aims to fund three awards in England and one each in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in villages with a population of up to 3,000.

Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “While rural village life is in decline we believe that many villages are sitting on a range of untapped potential that, with the strength of the community behind them, can be turned into thriving businesses.

“Village SOS will leave a genuine legacy for each of the villages involved and ultimately, we hope, will inspire other villages, showing them what can be achieved when communities work together.”

The TV series will be presented by Sarah Willingham (The Restaurant) who grew famed Indian catering chain The Bombay Bicycle Club into a hugely lucrative catering business.

She said: “Village SOS is an ambitious campaign and one that I am really excited about. It will help regenerate rural villages and will hopefully be a great example to village communities across the UK to think about ways in which the enthusiasm and skills of local people and resources within their community can be turned into thriving businesses.”

Alongside the series will be a major learning campaign* to help other villages use the learning and enthusiasm from the programme to take a bold step towards starting a new business that will regenerate their own communities.

Both the BIG grant application process and the BBC search for Village Champions launch on Tuesday 2 June 2009 and close on 14 August 2009. Info on how to apply can be found at bbc.co.uk/villagesos

Photos and examples of community businesses are available. For more information please contact the BIG Press Office on 0207 2111 888.

View images in the photo gallery

 

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
BBC Wales Communications: Jenny Walford: 029 2032 2373
Village SOS public enquiries: 0844 88 88 677
Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

 

Notes to Editors

  • Eighteen villages will be shortlisted in November to receive a development grant of up to £10,000, and will choose a ‘Village Champion’ to work with to advance their ideas. In May 2010 six projects will be awarded Lottery funding of up to £400,000 and their respective Village Champions will move into the villages for a year to help them turn their business idea into a reality.
  • BBC Wales will follow the stories of the six new rural enterprises from start up to trading for a major BBC One series in Winter 2010.
  • *Details of how other villages will be able to use the learning and enthusiasm from the programme will follow later in the year.
  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out half the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £23 billion has now been raised and more than 317,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • Make Your Mark is the campaign to increase entrepreneurial behaviour in the UK - encouraging people to have ideas and make them happen. Make Your Mark is run by Enterprise Insight, a Company Ltd by Guarantee and a Registered Charity (Registered Charity number 1127187)
  • It was founded by the four leading UK business membership organisations - the British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors - and their Director Generals sit on its board, which is chaired by BBC Dragon Peter Jones. It is supported by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and endorsed by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Best known for running Make Your Mark with a Tenner and Global Entrepreneurship Week (16-22 November). www.makeyourmark.org.uk Follow us on twitter @makeyourmark @hannahbourne (Head of Communications). For more information contact PR Manager Ochuko Adekoya on 020 7430 8028 ochuko@makeyourmark.org.uk

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