CO-OP has become the first retailer to launch a £ 1million ‘warm spaces’ funding boost to support vital services in Worcester.
The funding boost will be used to help communities navigate rising energy costs during the cold winter months.
This funding comes as a result of insight from more than 1,600 local community causes across the UK showing that nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) of projects have experienced a shortfall in funding over the past 12 months.
Over three-quarters, (84 per cent) of local causes have seen an increase in demand, particularly those providing support for people through the cost-of-living crisis.
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of community projects said they were considering having to reduce services as a result of shortfalls in funding, whilst a tenth (10 per cent) of local projects have already closed or reduced services.
Eligible groups who are already offering a warm space, wanting to increase opening times or extend existing services or activities this winter can apply for the £1m match funding.
Up to £3,000 per group is available by applying at coop.uk/warmspaces by February 28 2023.
Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community and member participation at Co-op said: “Funding for warm spaces forms part of our response to our community missions of access to food, mental well-being support and opportunities for young people.
"Launching this funding boots 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 well-being."
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.
Co-op has also been involved in signposting 900,000 people to helpful mental well-being information and services with Mind, SAMH and Inspire, and helping 6,000 young people make communities safer and fairer places to live through the Peer Action Collective.