This bank holiday weekend the Linskill Centre in North Shields is joining 300 other community businesses around the country to celebrate the third annual Community Business Weekend.

Aimed at shining a light on the 7,000 community businesses across England, Community Business Weekend offers a unique opportunity for local people to visit and see how they can get involved.

On Friday 4th May the Linskill Centre which has been community-owned since 2006, is celebrating ten years of providing a community café and will launch its summer menu with a tribute to its origins and founding members. Today the much-loved Café 32 is open six days a week providing a welcoming venue for visitors, tenants and staff. Over the Community Business Weekend the community are encouraged to pop along and see what’s on offer with the launch of the new summer menu, meet the team, learn about the history of the café and volunteering opportunities.

Simeon Ripley, Chief Executive of Linskill and North Tyneside Community Development Trust who manage the Linskill Centre in North Shields said: “Since 2008 the Linskill has provided a community café, in the early days it was Pat and Dorothy, two volunteers serving teas and coffees from a hatch in a small room. Over the years due to increasing visitor numbers and customer demand we now have Café 32, a commercial kitchen with a supporting catering team employing nine people. The Trust is proud of Café 32 as it has become the hub of the Linskill Centre, demonstrating how a community venture can succeed and become a cornerstone of the community.”

Peter Jenkins, Interim Chief Executive at organisers Power to Change, added: “Community businesses are a great example of local people taking power into their own hands. Every day tens of thousands of people get up and go to work at one of the 7,000 community businesses in England. Hundreds of thousands of us shop, visit or benefit from them directly, but they are still relatively unknown.

“That’s why Community Business Weekend is so important. It shines a light on these community-run gems that bring not only much needed services and spaces to a community but boost local economies and reinvest the profits for the benefit of local people.

“Top-down regeneration and devolution has failed to transform many disadvantaged areas, but communities, best placed to know what their neighbourhoods need and what works, usually thrive when they’re given the power to tackle these issues themselves.”

Community businesses are organisations rooted in a local area, run by and answerable to members of the community. They range from skate parks to libraries, tea rooms to vineyards and have a combined market income of £1.2bn in England, according to recent research[1]. Community businesses in England also employ 35,500 paid staff and 119,500 volunteers. Community Business Weekend is an opportunity to showcase what’s possible when local people take control and demonstrate their value to the local economy and society.

To find out more about the Café 32 event, visit www.linskill.org or @cafe32linskill.

To find out about other Community Business Weekend events in the area and for more information about the Weekend, visit www.communitybusinessweekend.org.

[1] The Community Business Market 2017: https://www.powertochange.org.uk/news/prolonged-austerity-brexit-uncertainty-continues-hit-business-confidence-one-sector-bucking-trend/