Expert volunteers are being called upon to share their knowledge and help rural community projects to flourish
by David Emerson,

Expert volunteers are being called upon to share their knowledge and help rural community projects to flourish

Over 170 people across the UK have now volunteered as a Village SOS Mentor, offering local projects with access to an impressive range of skills and experience. The Mentors provide FREE advice as part of an exciting campaign which aims to keep rural community projects alive and thriving.

If you have a story to share – including the setbacks, successes and celebrations – that could inspire and guide others then now is the time to get involved. Village SOS is running training for new Mentors in September; at Reaseheath College, Cheshire (Wednesday 16th), the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (Thursday 17th), the Leicester Creative Business Depot (Monday 21st), and at the Napier Room, Norton Park Conference Centre in Edinburgh (Thursday 24th) and are currently looking for new recruits.

If you are interested in finding out more about the role or would like to book a place at the training please contact Chris Cowcher, VSOS Community Manager on 01285 653477.

The Village SOS Mentors work alongside a network of local organisations delivering the campaign, offering projects with the opportunity to access support that is tailored to their needs and offers the greatest benefit to them. These volunteer mentors are parish councillors, committee members, business people, retirees and even accredited professionals and they have all signed up to share their expertise with projects involved with the Village SOS campaign. If you think that you’ve got something to offer the campaign then sign up and get involved.

Ivan Annibal, Rose Regeneration who leads on the Mentor training, said: “The Village SOS Mentors are at the core of this rural campaign. We aim to get projects learning from others and one of the best ways to achieve this is to get a mentor from one project sharing their knowledge with another. It is about offering projects a fresh pair of eyes to look at what they are doing from a different perspective, helping them to consider what is going well and what could be improved.”

Any rural project providing a service in their local community can apply for one to one support to help their project develop. Whether they need advice on business planning, consultations, funding applications or promotion, projects applying for support from the Village SOS campaign can get help now.

To find out more about the Village SOS campaign and the role of the Village SOS Mentors visit the campaign website (www.villagesos.org.uk) or contact the VSOS Community Manager Chris Cowcher on 01285 653477.

Notes to editors

Village SOS • Village SOS was launched by the Big Lottery Fund in 2009 to seize the challenges and opportunities faced by people living in rural communities. It saw more than 160 innovative village projects come to fruition, from community shops to a community forest company. • The Big Lottery Fund is keeping the spirit of this success alive with a new two-year Village SOS campaign, with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and its network of 38 rural community councils leading on activity in England; in Wales it is WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action) in Scotland Rocket Science, Senscot and Forth Sector; and in Northern Ireland the Rural Community Network. • The aim of Village SOS is to keep communities alive and thriving by helping them to become more enterprising with the support of people who have already done it themselves.

Action with Communities in Rural England • ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is the national body for the 38 rural community councils (RCCs) who make up the ACRE Network. We speak up for rural communities on the national stage and deliver projects that enable our communities to find innovative solutions to the challenges they face. ACRE are the lead partner for the Village SOS campaign across the UK.

Rose Regeneration • Rose Regeneration is an economic and community development business. Based in Lincoln it undertakes rural and coastal orientated projects across the UK. The organisation has a key role in facilitating the development of Village SOS mentors.

The Big Lottery Fund • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans. • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £33 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

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