Local charities given chance to apply for funding grants

Suffolk Baby Bank receive a donation from the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund

The East of England Co-op’s Community Cares Fund helped Suffolk Baby Bank support families in need in 2020 with a cash grant - Credit: East of England Co-op

Local charities have until May 7 to apply for cash grants from the East of England Co-op's Community Cares Fund. Head of membership, community and insight Nikki Insley explains. 

Community action has been a lifeline for many people during the coronavirus pandemic, with local charities and social enterprises offering vital services when they were needed most. But these all come at a cost – and with fundraising activities disrupted by Covid-19, many local organisations are at crisis point. 

To address this financial crisis, the East of England Co-op's Community Cares Fund will award grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to support local charities and community organisations across Norfolk, Suffolk and north east Essex. 

However, charities, community interest companies, social enterprises and parish councils in need of support should act now, as the Community Cares Fund is accepting applications until May 7.  

Veronica Sadowsky, Essex Carers Service Manager, receives a donation in 2020

Veronica Sadowsky, Essex Carers Service Manager, receives a donation in 2020 - Credit: East of England Co-op

Suffolk Community Foundation will administer grants on behalf of the East of England Co-op and will be distributed by Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex Community Foundations. Funding is awarded to organisations concentrating on three key areas: community action, health and wellbeing, and food justice.  

Community action is all about developing services and spaces that bring communities together either physically or virtually. Health and wellbeing addresses wellness, from the level of individual to the level of society. Food justice involves projects dedicated to improving access to and sharing knowledge about nutritious food, tackling food poverty and food waste. 

“Co-ops were originally set up in pursuit of food justice, so it is part of our DNA,” says Nikki Insley, head of membership, community and insight. “The pandemic has demonstrated that we're all only one or two personal disasters away from needing someone else's help. So, ensuring people can access affordable, quality food with dignity is really important.”  

Nikki Insley, East of England Co-op head of membership, community and insight

Nikki Insley, head of membership, community and insight - Credit: East of England Co-op/Nikki Insley

Launched in April 2020, the Community Cares Fund has already allocated £370,000 to local community action projects, including to foodbanks helping families in crisis, victims of domestic violence and unpaid carers. 

Most Read

“Initially, we set up the Community Cares Fund as an urgent response to the pandemic to help organisations that were doing good work when it was really needed,” Nikki says.

The East of England Co-op kickstarted this year's fund with £200,000 from its distribution of profits, with the hope that members will also contribute part of their dividend.   

“Astonishingly, last year our members donated £140,000, so again we will give members the opportunity to donate some or all of their dividend towards the Community Cares Fund,” Nikki says.  

An eligibility checker on the East of England Co-op’s website can help determine if a charity or social enterprise might qualify for funding. Successful applicants from the first round of this year’s fund will be notified in July and the East of England Co-op will build relationships with participating community organisations to promote their work and raise their profile. 

“If you are a community group or organisation in our area looking at creating or adapting a project or service in one of the three areas, I encourage you to apply,” says Nikki. 

“We distribute funds as evenly and fairly as possible across our trading area according to our three key themes. We want to make sure there's as much equality in what we're doing as possible.” 

Staff nurse Gemma Hill from the St Aubyn Centre in Colchester accepts a donation

Staff nurse Gemma Hill from the St Aubyn Centre in Colchester accepts a donation to help colleagues purchase essential personal items for the people in their care - Credit: East of England Co-op

The East of England Co-op will continue to offer sponsorships and small donations of up to £30 in addition to the Community Cares Fund. 

“The best way to access support from the East of England Co-op is through our website, where you will also find stories of the groups we’ve helped so far. 

“The Community Cares Fund is crucial at this time to support the good work of grassroots organisations that are having the direct impact on the quality of the lives and communities where they operate,” Nikki adds.  

“This pandemic has actually driven an enormous amount of innovation and creative thinking. We are really proud and excited to support the people driving that innovation.” 

For more information or to apply, please visit www.eastofengland.coop/community 

Watch more episodes from the #EastTogether series at www.eastofengland.coop/easttogether

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter