The South Stoke Business Network came out of a conversation between Geoff Ward and friends and residents in a local pub (The Perch & Pike) in late 2009. Geoff had been involved in a large company (ICL) who moved staff from office-based work to home-based work in the early 1990s. He knew what the impact of this radical move had had both on the organisation and its employees. Realising that there were a number of people working from home in the South Stoke area, the idea of the business network was born.
The first meeting was held on 12th February 2010 and was attended by John Howells, MP. This raised the profile of the event. The first meeting had 15 participants. The group has had an active first year. The email database is now 27 members with around 10 people meeting up face to face. It has met 8 times in various locations and at various times, including the pub The Perch & Pike, and has organised a variety of events with the community.
It used the village hall for two public “awareness-raising” evenings. This resulted in a further 6 people joining the network. It does not normally have outside speakers but when there has been a shared concern members have gone away and researched this for the group and reported back at the next meeting. All members have access to the membership database.
With the Parish Council the Network decided to sponsor the notices for the Village Open Gardens Day which attracts 1000 visitors in June/July. The Network is likely to do this again in 2011. The Network is promoted through the village website www.southstoke.org.uk/homework.php and a business directory is listed in the South Stoke newsletter.
The SSBN is approaching its first anniversary. To date the Network has been organised by Geoff with support on occasion from others. In the interests of future sustainability the next meeting may review the activities of the Network and Geoff would like to find other members willing to shoulder some of the tasks involved in running it.