Community Cares Fund

As a co-operative, supporting our community is at the heart of what we do.  

Set up in April 2020 in response to the pandemic, the Community Cares Fund allows us to support a variety of amazing projects and organisations which are making a difference to the lives of others. 

This year, the cost of living crisis has deepened the need for support in our communities. Grants going to organisations focusing on mental health and wellbeing account for 69% of the funding awarded this year, compared to 54% in 2021.

Since our last annual report, we've awarded over £200,000 to a diverse range of local groups focusing on everything from community action and food justice to mental health and wellbeing. Since the fund launched, we've given away over £400,000 worth of grants which has been supplemented by our generous members who have donated their annual dividend. Our Community Cares Fund grants have helped more than 100,000 people in our region and counting. 

Our latest round of funding was awarded in December 2022, and we’ve been able to support 29 charities and community groups across our region with grants ranging from £1,000 to £5,000. The funding will support more than 17,200 people. The projects we’ve supported largely have an emphasis on reducing isolation in our communities. They include:  

  • The first LGBTQIA+ rugby team in East Anglia, who are widening access to team sport.  
  • A family cooking project bringing together families of children in receipt of free school meals to enjoy preparing food as a group.  
  • And a link-up socialising programme for adults with learning disabilities. 

'Shop and Share'

The cost of living crisis has made our fight for food justice even more vital. This year, we've continued to support our local foodbanks through cash and food donations. 

From January to November 2022, we raised more than £7,500 for the 25 foodbanks we support. 

Through working closely with our local foodbanks, we knew that summer was set to be a challenging time, with families facing the additional financial pressures of the school holidays and the amount of donations to foodbanks dropping to typically less than half that of peak periods. So, we asked our members and customers to 'Shop and Share' and help us support their local community by donating to local foodbanks using the collection points in store. 

At our biannual summit in October, we met with representatives from our supported foodbanks to find out how the cost of living crisis was affecting them and those who need their support. They told us there had been a rapid increase in referrals for employed people who were needing to use foodbanks for the first time. The rise in demand at our foodbanks, along with the spike in energy costs, led us to launch our winter support campaign, donating more than £100,000 to keeping our community warm and fed. 

Supporting warm hubs and foodbanks this winter

We diverted £100,000 from our Christmas Marketing budget to provide support for warm hubs, warm spaces and foodbanks over the challenging winter period. 

Working with Suffolk Community Foundation, as well as Norfolk and Essex Community Foundations, £70,000 was split among warm hubs and has provided a warm space, food and drink, guidance and signposting to additional support to more than 17,500 people across 191 warm hubs in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. 

The remaining £30,000 went to 25 local foodbanks. Our generous customers helped to raise this total to more than £44,500 with £14,660 being donated in store at the till, in collection buckets and through the purchase of foodbank donation gift cards. 

Jubilee Community Centre Warm Hub

Healthy Start vouchers 

This summer we launched a campaign to raise awareness of Healthy Start vouchers in our region. All our stores now have shelf-edge signage to highlight Healthy Start eligible products and offer information about how to sign up for the scheme. 

We have also continued to increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers from £4.25 to £5 and have campaigned alongside the food justice charity Sustain and Co-ops UK to ensure fairer access to the Healthy Start scheme for families in need. 

Queen’s Green Canopy 

We supported The Queen’s Green Canopy by gifting 250 fruit trees to our members, as well as local schools and good causes. The national campaign encouraged individuals and groups to plant a tree in memoriam of HRH Queen Elizabeth II. We distributed Concord pear, Sunburst cherry and Flagstaff apple trees at several Food stores across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex to successful applicants. 

Sourced Locally 

For 16 years we’ve been supplying our customers with products made by local suppliers through our award-winning initiative, Sourced Locally. 

This year, we’ve been looking at how we can make our Sourced Locally range the best it can be – reviewing our product mix to ensure it meets the needs of our customers and members whilst continuing to support local food and drink producers.

Proud sponsors

2022 saw us provide more than 100 groups and organisations with sponsorships worth over £42,000. We were really pleased to be able to provide an additional helping hand and get stuck in with many of the activities we’d supported.  

Here are just a few of our highlights...

The Big Hoot

Following the successful Elmer’s Big Parade in 2019, this year saw the return of St Elizabeth Hospice’s sculpture trail. More than 50 owls popped up across Ipswich as part of The Big Hoot art trail. We were excited to work with local artist Indigo Price, who created our owl ‘Future Holder’, designed to encourage viewers to reflect on the future and what they could do to shape it. At the end of the trail, the owls were auctioned off, raising valuable funds for the hospice.  

East Anglia's Children's Hospice (EACH) summerhouse

During the summer, our Funeral Services and Community Engagement colleagues helped give a special summerhouse at EACH a major facelift, creating a quiet haven for families receiving bereavement counselling.  

EACH Wellbeing Lead Jules Gibson-Cranch, said: “The summerhouse is in full swing and proving a very useful, much-needed and greatly appreciated addition to the hospice.  

“We’ve been holding bereaved parent sessions in there and this is so helpful, as parents find coming into the care area difficult after a bereavement. In addition, the woodland surroundings are calming and grounding for them.  

“There’s also plenty of space for art therapy, which is being enjoyed by young people and adults alike.” 

Christmas tree recycling

Our H.L. Perfitt team also got stuck in, helping to collect Christmas trees across Norfolk as part of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice’s popular tree recycling programme. 

Raising more than £23,000, EACH Community Fundraising Manager Tina Burdett described the service as an “amazing team effort”.  

Supporting Pride

As a co-operative, equality and solidarity are key values of our movement. We are proud to continue our support for Pride across our region.

As well as sponsoring key events in Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester, we provided rainbow stickers for our colleagues and customers to wear to show their support for Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community.  

This year we were particularly proud to support Norwich Pride Schools Week. Providing schools across Norfolk with the opportunity to join in the Pride celebrations, with a particular focus on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ students and staff.  

The Hewett Academy

In December, colleagues from our Community Engagement and Funeral Services teams popped over to The Hewett Academy in Norwich to pack hampers for local families in need. Now in its fourth year, the initiative saw hampers, containing a variety of fruit, Christmas treats and gifts, packed by the school community, friends, families and our co-op colleagues.  

Principal of The Hewett Academy, Antony Little, said: “The Hewett Academy is more than a school, we are a proper community that supports one another. Our links with generous local businesses such as the Co-op ensure that our students and their families are well supported during tough times.” 

This report reflects our five 'Our Co-op' strategies.
Click on a strategy to learn more:

Building our fanbase

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Improving the daily lives of our colleagues

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Taking action to help save our planet

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Championing local

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Growing and evolving our business

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