What difference could a Co-operative Community Fund grant make to fuel poverty?

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The Cooperative Membership Fund

I’ve shopped at our local co-operative for years because I like its ethical policies.

They have the widest range of Fairtrade products of any retailer, they support human rights and stock a good range of organic food.

As you know, I’m a great one for protecting bees and the co-op have their “Plan Bee” which involves taking action on pesticides, a research fund and inspiring people to help bees in their gardens. In fact the Co-Operative feel so strongly about bees they have banned use of six neonicotinoid pesticides on their own-brand fresh and frozen produce.

It doesn’t stop there though! The co-op are well known for giving back to their local community too.

One of their most successful projects is The Cooperative Membership Fund. The Community Fund helps local communities with their grant scheme which vary from £100 to £2,000.

It’s funded by members of The Co-operative donating some of their share of profits, which is then given away in the form of small grants. During 2010, the Community Fund donated £1.2 million to local community groups across the country.

The Co-operative are always looking for worthy groups which carry out positive work in the community to share their grants with. In order to qualify for a grant each group must

  • Address a community issue
  • Provide a long-term benefit to the community
  • Support co-operative values and principlesfrom The Co-operative Group’s Sussex Area Membership Committee
  • Ideally be innovative in its approach

Maybe there are issues in your local area that have always bothered you and you’d like to get a grant for. This week I read a story about the extreme measures some pensioners are having to resort to in order to keep warm. I felt this could be the catalyst for a great community project.

Many pensioners have been using their free travel ­passes to spend the day riding on buses while others are seeking refuge from the cold in libraries and shopping centres. In the article it stated

14% wore scarves or hats indoors

12% live in one room to preserve heat

4% stay in bed during the day

9% feel cold all the time at home

I found this shocking and so sad that in our affluent, Western country, 5.5 million people are affected by ‘fuel poverty’.

What I’d love to do with a Community Grant is put it towards setting up a drop in centre; somewhere safe and warm where all members of society, but particularly those struggling to keep warm, could visit. They could sit and chat to locals, get a simple hot meal and share skills. instead of sitting alone in the cold at home, they would know there was somewhere friendly and warm to spend time.

What about you? Is there a local project group you could set up with the help of  Community Fund grant?

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