Over £100,000 awarded from the East of England Co-op’s Community Cares Fund to 30 organisations

5th August 2021

The grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 will give a much-needed boost in support to local groups working hard to support our communities through this challenging time.

Initially set up in April 2020, in response to the pandemic, the retailer’s Community Cares Fund helps local voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to create or adapt services that will have a positive impact on communities across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

The Community Cares Fund is supplemented by generous East of England Co-op members who, through donating their annual dividend, have so far contributed nearly £190,000 to the fund since it opened last year.

This latest round of funding, which was open for applications from April to May 2021, aims to support groups looking to address at least one of these key areas:

  • Community action – including the development of physical and virtual spaces and services that bring communities together.
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Food justice for all – including access to, and sharing knowledge about good quality, nutritious food.

Niall O’Keeffe, Joint Chief Executive of the East of England Co-op said: “There has been some truly inspirational work happening across our region to support local communities throughout the pandemic. We’re delighted to be able to support our local groups and organisations to grow and adapt their services as we move out of lockdown.”

This latest round of funding received an overwhelming number of applications, demonstrating both the need and desire of community groups to refocus and increase the support they offer as the country transitions into this next phase of the pandemic.

Niall added: “We had initially planned to run a second round of applications this Summer. However, after receiving such an unprecedented volume of applications we decided to combine the grants available from both rounds to make sure we could support as many organisations as possible at this crucial time.

“It’s clear that the criteria we set for applications in April really resonated with organisations as they look to re-focus and expand their work with our communities during this period of change. We’re really excited to see the difference our grant recipients will be able to make.”

The Dance Network Association CIC, based in Colchester, are among the Essex grant recipients. They have been awarded £5,000 to create new classes for older adults and those living with Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Gemma Wright, CEO and Founder of Dance Network Association said: “The funding we have received from the Community Cares Fund will allow us to deliver a programme of work after such a difficult year for all. Our project is specifically for those that have been shielding or isolating due to living with conditions such as Parkinson’s and Dementia.

“We will be delivering ‘in person’ activities from September 2021 which will support these people to reengage in physical and social activity in Colchester and find the joy and benefits of dancing. The fund will specifically support the organisation to evaluate the benefits of our dance programmes on those with lived conditions and support us to profile these benefits for future-proofing our crucial work in the community.”

The other organisations that are working in Essex and have been awarded a grant are:

  • Ferriers Barn in Essex were awarded £4,000 towards the adaptation of facilities to ensure activity can continue for adults with learning difficulties.
  • The Victor Batte Lay Foundation in Colchester were awarded £5,000 towards the creation of arts activities within a new community hub in the town centre. Working with Community 360 they are planning an exciting creative programme of activities appealing to all ages and backgrounds.
  • REACH have been awarded £5,000 towards the cost of expanding their foodbank provision across rural West Suffolk and North Essex, targeting rural residents who need food but struggle to access foodbanks.
  • Age Concern, Colchester & North East Essex have been awarded £5,000 towards re‐establishing pop‐up dementia cafes across Colchester and Tendring to aid the mental heath and wellbeing of carers.
  • Colchester & Tendring Youth Enquiry Service were awarded £5,000 to towards the development of counselling services for young people in Colchester whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic.

Community Cares Fund grants have been awarded to a diverse range of community groups that are making a difference to the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds across our region. A full list of successful grant recipients can be found at: eastofengland.coop/grantsawards

The next round of funding from the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund is due to open in Autumn 2021.