Over £85,000 available to organisations across East Anglia as next round of funding from East of England Co-op’s Community Cares Fund opens

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The region’s largest independent retailer is awarding grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to charities and organisations supporting people in its trading areas across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

Since its launch in April 2020, the East of England Co-op has donated over £410,000, including £190,000 donated by members, from its Community Cares Fund to local charities and good causes.

In July this year the retailer awarded their first round of funding for 2021, with £112,000 going to 30 organisations across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. The East of England Co-op received an overwhelming number of applications, demonstrating both the need and desire of community groups to refocus and increase the support they offer as the country transitions into this next phase of the pandemic.

Niall O’Keeffe, Joint Chief Executive of the East of England Co-op said: “We’re delighted to be opening this next round of applications for grants from our Community Cares Fund. The local causes we’ve supported so far have been able to achieve fantastic things so it’s wonderful to be giving this opportunity to even more groups and organisations in our region.

“There are so many inspiring people and groups in our communities working to make a positive difference. If you’re one of those people and the work you’re doing is addressing one of our key focus areas; community action, mental health and wellbeing or food justice for all, I’d encourage you to find out more about our Community Cares Fund and see if you are eligible to apply for a grant.”

For some inspiration, you can find out more about the organisations that received funding in July at eastofengland.coop/grantsawards. These funding recipients have already started to do some amazing things.

REACH, a charity based in Haverhill, Suffolk which aims to lift people out of poverty, received £5,000 towards the cost of expanding their foodbank provision across rural West Suffolk and North Essex. The funding is going towards helping residents of rural areas who struggle to access foodbanks. REACH has already started making healthy food boxes available to these isolated families through opening further hubs in rural areas, allowing both an in-person and delivery service. The charity will also provide support to help these families to get on top of their financial difficulties so that they don’t have to rely on food boxes anymore.

Jo Goodhall, Community Outreach Adviser at REACH said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you from all of us at REACH here in Haverhill to the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund for their very generous donation towards our work.

“Every food box that we give out and every home visit that we make to people is making such a massive difference in people’s lives. People who live in rural areas, people who live in smaller villages surrounding our community who don’t have transport are so overwhelmed that we’re able to go out and see them and help them in whatever situation they’re facing.”

Ferriers Barn provides a range of activities for adults with disabilities from their day centre in rural Essex, near Bures. Ferriers Barn received £4,000 to help with some essential upgrades to the centre where they run activities including cookery, woodwork, pottery, gardening and arts and crafts.

Nicola Goodman, Administrator at Ferriers Barn said: “The grant the East of England Co-op provided was a god send, we had to close last year due to Covid-19 and since reopening have had to change the way in which we work, including more ventilation.

“Our existing heating system was antiquated and ineffective, not to mention noisy. We froze in the winter. We have used the grant money to replace the heating with wonderful infrared heating, which is highly efficient and silent. The difference is incredible. We are able to have the doors and windows open and still stay snug and warm.

“We honestly cannot thank the East of England Community Cares Fund enough for this grant, it means we can operate safely and still make sure our members are comfortable at all times.”

Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing (Minidonks), a Norfolk based charity that brings gentle and friendly miniature donkeys to community groups, special needs groups and dementia groups to help with wellbeing, received just over £2,000 to help improve their IT equipment.

The pandemic meant that the charity was unable to do their in-person visits and, as many of the users they support are in 'at risk' groups, volunteers worked hard to maintain engagement by digital means. Developing virtual visits has become a key part of the Minidonks service and this funding will allow them to enhance the quality of their virtual visits.

Sarah McPherson, Founder and Managing Director of Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing said: "We would like to thank the East of England Co-op for their generous grant, which will enable us to upgrade our IT equipment with the intention of being able to film and edit videos so that when we can't get out to visit care homes etc, we will be able to send them video messages from the Minidonks. We would not have been able to do this without the support of the East of England Co-op. Thank you from the bottom of our Minidonk Hearts."

East of England Co-op’s Community Cares Fund is open to grant applications from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, charities and parish councils that are creating or adapting services or activities that will have a positive impact in the communities where the East of England Co-op trades in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. The day-to-day administration of the Fund is carried out by Suffolk Community Foundation and distributed by Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex Community Foundations on behalf of the East of England Co-op. 

Funding applications should address at least one of these key areas: 

  • Community action – including the development of physical and virtual spaces and services that bring communities together. 
  • Mental health and wellbeing 
  • Food justice for all – including access to, and sharing knowledge about good quality, nutritious food. 

To find out more about the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund and how to apply visit: eastofengland.coop/community/community-cares-fund. Funding applications are open until 8 October 2021 unless otherwise advertised.

The East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund is just one of the ways the retailer supports its local communities. Funds are also available for groups, charities and teams looking for smaller donations such as raffle prizes and refreshments for events and sponsorships.