East of England Co-op has handed out more than £100,000 though its Community Cares Fund to 26 community organisations across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Grants ranged between £1,000 and £5,000, which are expected to directly benefit 4,757 local people, were distributed via the fund, launched by the retail society in April 2020.
The fund receives applications for support across three pillars – community action, food justice, and mental health and wellbeing. Grants awarded under mental health and wellbeing account for 76% of the total fund awarded this round, a sharp rise from the average of 54%.
“With this round of funding we have been able to respond to the profound need of those affected by the cost-of-living crisis,” said senior community manager Helen Raven. “As we head into the more difficult winter months ahead, the mental health fallout from the financial difficulties many are expected to experience will be sharp. Many of the grants awarded will go directly to supporting vulnerable local people during this difficult time.”
Beneficiaries from this round of funding include Disability Advice North East Suffolk (DANES). The charity is run by disabled people, for disabled people and their carers living in Lowestoft, Waveney, North East Suffolk and the surrounding area. A grant of £5,000 has been awarded to support the ‘Warm and Well in Waveney’ project.
Trish Riches, manager at DANES, said: “Disabled people are likely to be disproportionately affected by the rising costs of living. They may be on a lower income, not have the ability to manage their finances or even require the additional use of gas and electricity for specialist equipment. Through this project we can help 25 people on an individual basis improve their wellbeing by reducing levels of anxiety about their finances.”
The fund is supplemented by contributions from East of England Co-op members. “To everyone who has donated to the Community Cares Fund, thank you,” said Raven. “It continues to make a very real difference to people in your community. We urge other members and customers to donate in store – one easy option is to donate your dividend payment.”