Support for communities at its highest, says Co-op

16 November 2021

Stable Lives

  • Pandemic sees more than 1 million Co-op members choose to support a local cause in a single round of its Local Community Fund – the highest numbers since its launch in 2016
  • £100 million marks legacy of Co-op investment into communities over the past 5 years, supporting major national community partnerships and over 25,000 local community projects
  • Recent insight from the grass roots charities supported by the Co-op shows more is needed to help communities get back on their feet

As the Co-op celebrates raising £100 million for local communities, causes and charity partners over the last five years – data from the latest funding round shows that community support is needed more than ever, with more than million Co-op members selecting a cause in a single round of its Local Community Fund – the highest numbers since its launch in 2016.

Earlier this year, over 3,000 local causes from across the UK took part in a Co-op survey, sharing how the pandemic has affected their groups and communities, making it one of the largest of its kind. Causes identified mental wellbeing (89% of causes), the impact of lockdown on young people’s education (66% of causes) and rising food insecurity (46% of causes) as some of the biggest challenges facing their communities.

This insight, along with data from Co-op's Community Wellbeing Index, and network of Member Pioneers has helped to inform the Co-op’s vision of co-operating for a fairer world, which focuses on these areas that matter: Access to Food, Mental Wellbeing Support and Education and Employment for young people.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value at the Co-op, said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen more Co-op members than ever play an active role in supporting their community by selecting a cause. Our insight has told us that support for mental wellbeing, access to food and education and employment for young people, are key for helping communities as they get back on their feet."

“We’re delighted to see the incredible amount Co-op members have raised over the past five years, by listening closely to our local communities and providing the long-term investment and support they need, our members and customers have all helped make their communities places where we can all be proud to live and work."

Since 2016, the Local Community Fund has supported over 25,000 causes across the UK, and members are encouraged to pick a local cause from a selection will make real difference in their local area.

Stable Lives, in Wigan, is one of the causes that has benefited from the latest round of the Local Community Fund. They said: “We’re incredibly grateful for all of the support from Co-op members. By selecting us as a cause, we’ve been able to provide a calm, safe place where those dealing with the effects of mental trauma can come to rest, relax and reconnect with society.”

Kirsty Haigh, Director at Edinburgh Food Social said: “Thanks to Co-op members we’ve been able to educate and inspire young people and communities about the value of good, local, seasonal food. The money raised has provided cooking classes and workshops, giving those at risk of unemployment valuable cooking in the hope that it will lead to a career in Scotland's food and drink sector.”

The group’s membership programme sees 2p in every pound spent on Co-op branded products and services shared equally between two funds – the Local Community Fund and the Community Partnerships Fund.

The money raised has also supported national organisations and charities across the country, including Co-op’s partnership with Hubbub which has funded 100 new community fridges in local communities across the UK, providing 6.8 million meals a year. As well as signposting 500,000 people to activity information or services that support their mental wellbeing with Mind, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and Inspire. It’s also created over 6,000 opportunities for young people to make their communities safer places to live and enabled 7,000 Co-op Academy students to receive free Co-op food vouchers, the equivalent of 1.2 million meals.

To learn more about how to support your local community, Co-op Membership and how easy this is through the Co-op app, visit: www.coop.co.uk/membership.

ENDS For more information, contact Elliott Lancaster (07808 609 944, elliott.lancaster@coop.co.uk) or Sarah Fitton (07702 506 126, Sarah.fitton@coop.co.uk)

About Co-op   The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.  

Employing over 60,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £10 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op 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.  

When Co-op Members buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent is shared equally between the Local Community Fund for local causes and the Community Partnerships Fund, to support communities through like-minded national charities and organisations.

For 2021, the Local Community Fund and the Community Partnerships Fund are funding causes which support fairer access to food, mental wellbeing support, education and employment for young people in their communities.

The Co-op Community Wellbeing Index gives an insight into what’s important to people in a local community. From the quality of education, housing affordability, and public transport – to the amount of green space and the number of community centres in an area. We have gathered data for over 28,000 communities across the UK, to understand how they score across these and many other wellbeing measures.

To learn more about Co-op Membership and select a cause to support, visit: www.coop.co.uk/membership