As a number of severe weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across the UK and temperatures continue to fall, Co-op is has increased the flow of funds to community groups through its £1 million ‘Warm Spaces’ funding boost, to provide further urgent support to local community organisations across the UK, as they help communities navigate rising energy costs during the cold winter months.
All community groups with live fundraising campaigns as part of the fund have today (19 January) been given £500 from Co-op to help them reach their fundraising goal and all new groups who sign up will also receive a £500 payment to kick start fundraising.
Eligible groups who already provide a warm space and want to increase opening times or extend existing services or activities this winter can apply for match funding – up to £5,000 per group is available by applying at coop.uk/warmspaces by 28th February 2023 (fundraising to be completed by 31st March 2023).
Since launching the match funding platform with Crowdfunder six weeks ago in December 2022 over £240,000 has been paid out by Co-op to help 300 groups provide warm spaces in communities across the UK – with groups from Thurso in far north of Scotland to Newlyn in the South of Cornwall, all successfully receiving funding.
This funding comes as a welcome boost, with insight from more than 3,000 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 (27%) of community projects said they were considering having to reduce services as a result of shortfalls in funding, whilst more than a tenth (13%) of local projects have already closed or reduced services.
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 the mercury dops and conditions turn icy this week, with more in the forecast, it’s important to remember the vital work that community groups and organisations are providing to people across the UK at a time when it’s most needed.. As our Co-op research shows, we have a huge role to play in supporting these vital services that help during the cost-of-living crisis.
“I’d encourage groups to apply for our Warm Spaces Funding now and make use of the additional £500 funding as well as the match funding from Co-op so they can help to provide warm spaces to people in their community.
“Funding for warm spaces forms part of our response to our community missions of access to food, mental wellbeing support and opportunities for young people. Launching this funding boosts 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.”
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, socialise 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