About Us

POP supports and leads real, purposeful and lasting change in Plymouth.​

Our purpose is to build strong grassroots organisations, charities and social enterprises by supporting them to work together and take a lead role in creating change.

We are driven by the energy, passion and skills of local people taking action to make our society and environment a better place to live. A small team of dedicated staff, associates and trustees do this by influencing, connecting, training and creating opportunities. ​

Our values define everything we do: we are committed to building and strengthening trust and relationships; collaborating with others and being innovative. With all our work we strive to learn – and encourage learning – through our actions.

  • We advocate and support the growth of active citizens and social connectivity
  • We have a membership of grassroots groups and organisations who we nurture through our core offer.
  • We work strategically to support grassroots organisations, charities and social enterprises. 

We are known for:​

  • Convening and facilitating exciting, innovative spaces in which people connect ​
  • Providing provide excellent advice to grassroots groups​
  • Being system thinkers and bringing new ways to understands the challenges we face​
  • Our funding advice & support to members ​
  • Achieving high levels of success regarding funding applications​
  • Our appetite for risk; our willingness to try new things and to learn as we go

POP Staff

  • Matt Bell – CEO
  • Charlotte Brew – Learning Champion
  • Rowan Edwards – Comms & Digital Support
  • Claire Law – Core Lead
  • Christina Maccullie – Community Enabler
  • Deborah – Administrator
  • Imogen Potter – Capacity Building Manager
  • Chas Shaw – Finance Worker


  • Alan Butler (Pride in Plymouth)
  • Cindy Willcocks (Arterne)
  • Josephine Bussell
  • Andi Higginson
  • Karen Pilkington (Cornerstone Vision / Stoke Stars)
  • Jabo Butera (Diversity Business Incubator)
  • Lesley Coulton (St Luke’s Hospice)
  • Martin Mills (Our Plymouth)
  • Kiven Emmanuel (Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support)
  • Kay O’Shaugnessy (Friends and Families of Special Children)


Our Associates Pool is always open – if you would like to be a part of this exciting organisation please submit your CV to info@plymouthoctopus.org

  • Stuart Jones working on the thematic networks, Neighbourhood Care Networks and part of the POP ideas team
  • Jabo Butera of Diversity Business Incubator (DBI) is convening the RAS Network
  • Caroline Blackler is helping us capture and tell our stories
  • Susan Moores is delivering as part of the POP ideas team
  • Paul Read is delivering as part of the POP ideas team
  • Gareth Hart is delivering as part of the POP ideas team
  • Donna Maughan is delivering the Community Engagement Plan for the High Street Heritage Action Zone on behalf of POP and in partnership with The Box
  • Stephane Kolinsky is helping us with the Neighbourhood Care Networks and training for the SIMPL Project’s community conversations

POP believes that transparency leads to greater accountability, involvement and better decision making. We are testing a new way of working and publishing data. The thinking behind this is that to make good decisions we need to have good data, and this data needs to be open because who knows where the critical insight may come from? And of course as members you will want to know what POP is doing. We also need to know what decisions have been made in the past, and what we have learnt from them. We are therefore structuring as follows:

  • Decision making
  • Funding bids
  • Stats & finances

Click here to view our transparency section.

As the coronavirus spreads and we all take measures to keep those most vulnerable safe we will have to adjust the way we work. POP is working with Plymouth City Council and other key partners to plan and respond to this. 

We are committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to support those people worst affected by this. We will see people directly affected through self-isolation and illness, but we will also see those affected by panic buying and the economic impact on people self employed or in precarious employment. 

We want to work with you to show how the people of Plymouth can come together and support one another through this. It is important to us that we stress that it is physical distancing and not social distancing. We must stay connected and increase social solidarity. 

Events are rapidly changing so for the moment we have the following messages: 


POP news 

  • Our team of seven staff and seven associates have been liaising with people all over the city, to ensure that our mission – more relevant than ever – to build strong grassroots organisations, charities and social enterprises by supporting them to work together and take a lead role in creating change.
  • We have had over 50 people attend our Zoom “Play & Learn” sessions, ensuring that individuals are able to continue to host and ‘attend’ meetings, continuing their work, without (much) disruption.
  • POP continues to work with Our Plymouth – it’s role to match volunteers with organisations that need them, even more relevant in these current times.
  • We have set up a Facebook page dedicated to grassroots organisations across Plymouth to let us know about critical issues, share support with one another and connect. Join the group here.


Plymouth VCSE Survey

POP has carried out a survey of the VCS sector to quickly try and identify the challenges – financial and otherwise – that members are facing and to establish how we can best offer support. 

Plymouth VCSE survey – April 2020 – Summary

POP Response to Plymouth VCSE survey – April 2020  


POP ideas

POP ideas’ training workshops have now been moved online.

The POP ideas team are still available to support you in helping to draft funding bids. Funding application processes can take anything between 3-12 months, so now is a good time to apply for funding so that you can be looking to deliver in the Autumn and onward.

POP has been liaising with the City Council (including its Public Health Department and Adult Social Services); community organisations, such as Nudge Community Builders in Stonehouse; STARS (Stoke Traders and Residents Association); The Hoe Neighbourhood Forum and Whitleigh Big Local to help create and support what are loosely being called Neighbourhood Care Networks, maximising local expertise to support neighbours-in-need.

But what makes these networks unique is the intent to combine ‘community experts’ – people with a real understanding of where they live and the people that live there – with those employed in a ‘professional’ role who work in the same area, such as, district nurses, social workers, ‘faith’ leaders, GPs and police officers along with local volunteers. This collaborative approach ensures that a person, at risk or in need, benefits from a concerted effort to give them the care they need.

Click here to find out more


Plymouth groups can claim up to £250 from our £250 a POP fund for incidental costs since 16 March. Click here to find out more.

If your organisation is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and you receive funding from us, we are committed to the same statement issued by other funders – click here to read more.


Positive People
In order to support people we are running daily meet-ups on Zoom covering various topics and having general check-ins. These tend to be fun and informal and a place to share concerns, bust some coronavirus myths and gain some skills to help battle our loneliness, anxiety and anger in lockdown. Sessions include:
  • Breathing meditations
  • Simple group exercise class
  • Games galore (charades, name that tune, quizzes, pictionary…)
  • Self development workshops
  • Happy memory sharing
  • Skills sharing (e.g. photography)
We are also calling more vulnerable people on a regular basis to check-in but also signpost to help when needed. If you know anyone who might benefit from joining in please call Chris Maccullie on 07951 313163 or email chris.m@plymouthoctopus.org.


The Plymouth Good Neighbours Scheme will see the Council join forces with community groups and charities across the city to provide a central place for people to put their hat in the ring to help.

The Council will collect names and skillsets and then help groups by distributing volunteers with the right skills to right places at the right time, directly and through the many great voluntary sector organisations in the city, and key partners such as the Plymouth Octopus Project and Our Plymouth.


Caring for Plymouth is an alliance between the Council, Livewell Southwest and a large number of VCS organisations. It will ensure that Plymouth’s most vulnerable are provided with emotional support, shopping, medicine collection, support with paying bills and accessing money. Staff providing the service will have had background checks to provide added piece of mind.

In addition, the Caring for Plymouth Support Hub will support other vulnerable older and disabled people who are affected by Covid 19 and who have no-one to support them to maintain their independence.


Covid-19 Mutual Aid Local Groups are small groups of people setting up independently in communities to support vulnerable people in their local area through the outbreak. Support could involve activities from running errands to the shops, to making phone calls, to providing a friendly voice of reassurance. Lots of existing local charities and community groups are putting in place plans to ramp up trained volunteer support. Click here to find your local group, or click here for resources on starting up your own group.