This story is part of a series about the 2019 Engaged Cities Award finalist cities and how they partnered with residents to transform their communities. Learn more about the award here.
The building on the corner of Union and Manor Streets in Plymouth had been vacant for more than twenty years when a neighborhood group decided to transform it into a new community space.
Members of a neighborhood group called Nudge Community Builders worked with partner organizations and the landowner to develop a plan for the space and to fix the electrical work and plumbing.
But they needed funds to make it a usable space for the community. That’s where Crowdfund Plymouth came in. The group raised £10,000 with matching funds from the city.
“One local business owner said, ‘I might put in £50,’ and then he grilled us,” said Hannah Sloggett, one of the directors of Nudge. “He asked us a bunch of questions about our plans and then put in a £1,000. It was a special moment.”
Once eligible crowdfunding projects reach 25% of their goal, the city pledges 50% of their target, up to £20,000. The funds come from the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is collected from developers and includes a portion designated for community projects.
With the funds raised through Crowdfund Plymouth, volunteers helped demolish the old, derelict shopfront, build a new shopfront and garden, and renovate the kitchen.
Now in its third year, Union Corner serves free soup during lunch three times a week and hosts a wide variety of community events and classes, ranging from cooking workshops and writing groups to art shows and Tai Chi classes.
The success of Union Corner inspired Nudge to do more with crowdfunding. Crowdfund Plymouth also allows organizations to raise shares from community members so the group raised shares to turn a former pub into a new cafe, market, and community space for residents to sell their homemade goods, called The Clipper.
More than 160 residents now hold shares in The Clipper, each receiving an annual 3.6% on their investment and helping to spread the word.
Just down the street from Union Corner, The Clipper has been open for a year. Residents can now buy food at the cafe, attend special events, or rent a stall at a low rate to sell goods like greeting cards, artwork, and terrariums.
Some of the residents who sell their items first learned about the space through Union Corner.
“One of the people who comes in to get free soup told us he was a painter too,” said Sloggett. “We showed him the space and now his paintings are on the walls and available for purchase.”
Crowdfund Plymouth helps these kinds of projects grow by working with residents to develop their ideas and encouraging investment from the community. Residents are now partners with the city in transforming Plymouth for the better.