The Southern Co-op is intensifying its efforts to tackle knife violence with a new fund to support prevention initiatives.
The Safer Neighbourhood Fund builds on the society’s work to tackle crime from every angle including causes, prevention, reporting and justice.
The retailer has identified five areas which would benefit from community programmes – Portsmouth, Southampton, South London, Bournemouth and Bristol.
It has called for funding applications from local charities that are delivering innovative programmes to help residents to build a secure future and reduce offending. This can include tackling the underlying causes of offending behaviours, increasing opportunities for employability skill development, and overcoming specific, practical and personal barriers.
Gareth Lewis, Southern Co-op’s loss prevention and security manager, said: “We commit a lot of time and money to protecting our colleagues and customers from violent offenders but the stark reality is, it’s getting worse.
“Every retailer is affected and we’ve personally seen a 69% increase in crime across our estate from 2018-2019.
“Our colleagues deserve to work in a safe environment free from harm and the fear of harm. We hope this new funding will be a step towards achieving this.”
Southern has also partnered with the Hampshire-based homelessness charity, Society of St James, which helps those facing multiple disadvantages such as homelessness, poverty and/or substance misuse.
Jessica Hughes, Southern’s community investment manager, said: “We’re taking a pro-active and holistic approach to reduce offending and reoffending in areas that we believe are some of the worst affected.
“There are numerous reasons why people steal from our stores and there are charities out there that already do some great work in helping those affected by issues such as drugs, homelessness, poverty and abuse. We hope this funding will give them the boost they need to make an even greater difference to people’s lives.”
To be eligible for funding charities have to be operating in the following postcodes: PO1-PO6 (Portsmouth), SO14, SO15, SO16, SO30 (Southampton), BH1, BH10, BH14, BH15 (Poole/Bournemouth), BS1, BS3, BS4, BS5, BS7, BS8, BS15 (Bristol) and DA15, W13, BR7 (South London).