09 December 2022

  • Vital funding comes after Co-op insight from 1,600 community causes across the UK shows nearly two-thirds (59%) of the organisations we support have experienced a shortfall in funding over the past 12 months

  • Over three- quarters (84%) of local causes have seen an increase in demand, particularly those providing support for people through the cost-of-living crisis

  • Over a quarter (26%) of community projects said they were considering having to reduce services because of shortfalls in funding, whilst more than 1 in 10 local projects have already closed or reduced services.

  • Co-op is giving a helping hand to local community groups looking to provide warm spaces for people to use over the coldest months, as they navigate rising energy costs

  • Thanks to the Crowdfunder partnership, community groups across the UK can apply for match funding of up to £3,000 per group until March 2022

As winter looms, Co-op becomes first retailer to launch a £1 million ‘Warm Spaces’ funding boost, to provide urgent support to local community organisations across the UK, as they help communities navigate rising energy costs during the cold winter months.

This funding comes as a welcome boost, with insight from more than 1,600 local community causes across the UK showing that nearly two-thirds (59%) of projects have experienced a shortfall in funding over the past 12 months. Over three- quarters (84%) of local causes have seen an increase in demand, particularly those providing support for people through the cost-of-living crisis.

Over a quarter (26%) of community projects said they were considering having to reduce services as a result of shortfalls in funding, whilst a tenth (10%) of local projects have already closed or reduced services.

In support, funds raised by Co-op members are helping local groups provide warm spaces for people to use over the coldest months, through its newly established partnership with Crowdfunder. Eligible groups who are already offering a warm space, wanting to increase opening times or extend existing services or activities this winter can apply for the £1m match funding – up to £3,000 per group is available by applying at coop.uk/warmspaces by 28th February 2023 (fundraising to be completed by 31st March 2023).

Projects that can apply might include, a community cafe that needs funding to continue offering their building as a warm space; a local village support group wanting to extend existing activities to support more people in their community; a community fridge, wanting to promote their services more widely to meet increasing need or a youth group whose energy costs have increased.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Member Participation at Co-op commented: “As our Co-op research shows, we have a huge role to play in supporting community groups and the people that they help during the cost-of-living crisis.

“Funding for warm spaces form part of our response to our community missions of access to food, mental wellbeing support and opportunities for young people. Launching this funding boots will help groups keep their lights and heating on as they bring communities together to keep warm in the coldest months of the year– increasing overall wellbeing. It may also mean people don’t have to choose between accessing food or heating this winter. Plus, having a warm space allows the community to take a break from their everyday worries, improving their mental wellbeing.

“The £1m funding boost wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for our members choosing Co-op and raising funds to support communities every time they shop with us. Our customers and members can help even more by donating through Crowdfunder or take part by using the services that are being funded.”

Rob Love, founder and CEO of Crowdfunder said: “Crowdfunder are delighted to have partnered with Co-op to help keep communities warm this winter. This vital funding is needed now more than ever to make sure there are enough warm spaces open throughout the colder months. Through Crowdfunder, we are able to connect funding from large organisations such as the Co-op with thousands of small charities and community projects who are desperately in need of help”

Sue Collins, Caxton House Community Centre, a long-established multi-purpose Community Hub based in North London said: “We have been overwhelmed by the responses regarding the anxiety, stress and increased mental health issues that the current cost of living crisis is causing. Families and older residents have regularly told us that they have to cut down on food as prices have doubled and we receive regular calls asking for emergency help, reminiscent of the first Covid lockdown. We know that some residents are not heating their homes and that this will get worse into the winter months. We want to be able to offer additional advice and support, at a time when our own cost for gas in the centre is increasing from £5,000 annually to an anticipated £50,000+.

“We have opened ‘warm rooms’ providing spaces for residents to keep warm, socialize and access refreshments. We have lots of different activities on different days that include arts and crafts, as well as access to advice including money saving energy tips, budgeting and debt advice, mental health and well-being support. Residents can also charge electrical equipment and fill flasks, with some sessions allowing access to hot food, and pre-prepared meals that can be microwaved at home, saving having to put on an oven.”

Since 2016 Co-op members have helped raise £117 million for local communities, which includes 30,000 Local Community Fund projects supported, funding over 280 fridges with Hubbub, building the network to 350 fridges by end of 2022. Expanding the Your Local Pantry network to 225 within the next 3 years, providing more communities with sustainable solutions to access to food.

In addition to signposting 900,000 people to helpful mental wellbeing information and services with Mind, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and Inspire, and helping 6,000 young people make communities safer and fairer places to live through our Peer Action Collective.

For further information and match funding criteria visit coop.uk/warmspaces

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Notes to editor:

Findings based on 1634 survey responses received between 11/11/22 and 28/11/22. Respondents were local causes that had recently participated in Co-op's Local Community Fund.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sarah Fitton & Mark Carrington pressoffice@coop.co.uk

About Co-op:

Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates over 2,500 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,000 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. Employing almost 60,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of over £11billion and is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.