East of England Co-op's #EastTogether campaign draws to a close

Complication of images of charities and organisations featured in the #EastTogether campaign

The #EastTogether campaign has highlighted the fantastic work of local charities and organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic - Credit: St Edmunds Society / EACH / St Elizabeth Hospice / Together We Grow

The East of England Co-op's #EastTogether campaign, in partnership with Archant, shone a spotlight on local community organisations, good causes and charities that have provided essential social benefits in the time of Covid-19. Head of membership, community and insight Nikki Insley takes a look at the successes of the campaign and looks to the future. 

A campaign celebrating the vital work of local charitable organisations in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex is coming to a close. 
Launched in December 2020, the East of England Co-op partnered with Archant for the #EastTogether video series. The nine-month campaign profiled local charities and organisations to get the word out about the amazing work they are doing during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Nikki Insley, head of membership, community and insight, said: “2020 was a totally unprecedented year. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was – and continues to be – huge. It’s been really important to reflect on what we’ve all gone through and to celebrate the people whose hard work and dedication has helped so many in our region get through this.

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

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

“The aim of the #EastTogether campaign was to celebrate the efforts of the region’s community organisations and charities and say ‘thank you’ for everything they do,” Nikki says. “We also wanted to tell the stories of the many individuals in our region who dedicate their time and energy to confront the profound challenges we face as a society.”
Important social causes addressed by the series include homelessness, food poverty, palliative care, education, loneliness and isolation, and mental health and wellbeing. 

“Each episode has highlighted to me how incredible our region’s public and charity sectors are. There are so many fantastic services being delivered and groups being run to ensure that people have access to the support they need. One of the highlights for me is Debenham Shed, which is such a fantastic example of community action and people working together to achieve something amazing.”

Bernard Rose, chair of Debenham Shed, working on a rocking horse

Bernard Rose (pictured) is chair of Debenham Shed, where locals can build social connections while making and mending - Credit: Archant

Debenham Shed, in Suffolk, is a community project where members can engage in handiwork and upcycling while building social connections. With funding from the East of England Co-op's Community Cares Fund, Debenham Shed was able to build an extension to its premises – just one of many local organisations to benefit from the fund.

Since May, the East of England Co-op has supported 30 local organisations across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex with donations totalling over £112,000 from the Community Cares Fund.

“We want to ensure that we play a vital role in improving the daily lives of the people we serve and that’s why the profit we make goes back into supporting our local communities,” Nikki says.

“Through the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund, the work of the engagement team and our focus on building relationships with local good causes and community partners, we look to support groups at grass roots level – the groups that help people to access nutritious food, those that bring people together to stop loneliness and isolation and groups that provide vital services that help improve people’s health and wellbeing.”

The next round of the Community Cares Fund will be launched later this month. The East of England Co-op will be looking for applications from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations who are looking to create and adapt services and activities in three key focus areas: food justice for all, community action and health and wellbeing. 

“Food justice for all is a key focus area for the East of England Co-op, that’s why we backed Marcus Rashford’s Child Food Poverty Taskforce and have been topping up the value of Healthy Start vouchers in our stores since September 2020,” Nikki explains. “During the summer, we worked closely with our local supported foodbanks on a new campaign to bust common myths that can prevent people from accessing support and what people can donate.

“We would ask our members and customers to please consider helping a family in crisis by donating something from their shop, particularly those items including tinned vegetables, UHT milk, tinned fruit and fruit juices that foodbanks so desperately need.
“Everyone at the East of England Co-op would like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to all the key workers, charities, community groups and volunteers who have shown such resilience and determination to continue to do amazing things during this incredibly difficult time.”

For more information or to apply for the Community Cares Fund, please visit www.eastofengland.coop/community

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

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