Community co-op initiatives in Plymouth secure grants from Shared Prosperity Fund

Money goes to Cooperative Connections, which tackles food insecurity, and Nudge, which is developing an empty building for community use

Two community-led initiatives set up to help people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Plymouth have been awarded funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Plymouth Food Cooperative Connections has been awarded £252,500 to host food support schemes to help address cost-of-living issues, while Nudge, a community benefit society based in the city’s Union Street, has received £470,940 to lead a partnership on work to open up empty buildings in Stonehouse to new community uses.

Cooperative Connections is part of a city-wide approach to address issues of food insecurity within Plymouth. The new funding will see:

  • A mobile van fitted out as a shop to support setting up new affordable food clubs. Proposed locations include Ernesettle, St Budeaux, Keyham, Cattedown, Estover, Honicknowle, Chaddlewood and Mount Gould. Affordable food clubs are member based and for a small annual fee, people can buy cheap food. They open weekly on a pop-up basis and are run by volunteers. There is also signposting to additional cost-of-living support.
  • Social supermarkets: these are larger, take up a permanent space and are open twice a week. Also run by volunteers, they are similar to a normal shopping environment, with a small annual membership fee as well as a weekly fee for a set number of items. They are not a replacement for standard shops but aim to supply the basics, with complementary additional cost-of-living wrap-around support.
  • Small scale manufacturing of pasta type sauces, jams, chutneys and preserves from left over fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Plymouth Food Security Collective bulk buys and distribute foodstuffs for food support work, including affordable food clubs and social supermarkets.

The collective is organised on co-operative principles and is taking a shift away from food aid to a Food Alliance model, which features a referrals system, an access portal with helpline and more of an emphasis on wrap-around services to support people away from needing help to get food.

A semi-community supermarket model has been piloted at Four Greens in Whitleigh and two community co-op food clubs in Southway and at Manadon Sport Hub have already started up.

Cllr Chris Penberthy, cabinet member for housing, co-operative development and communities, said: “These are projects that have already been doing some great work within our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. No one should be struggling to put food on their plates, but it is a sad fact of life today that this is real issue for many people, especially with the cost of living.

“But there are ways to access cheap nutritious food for those who need it and this funding will help these groups carry on these brilliant projects as well as invest more in equipment to continue their work well into the future.”

The award followed an open call in the summer to community groups looking for funding under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Plymouth City Council saids it was looking for projects that will help fund community and place interventions with particular focus on cost-of-living challenges, net-zero, regenerating community assets and helping to build resilient communities.

The Sharing Communities project led by Nudge Community Builders also received £470,940 for the delivery of its UK Shared Prosperity project. Based on Union Street, Stonehouse, the project will allow Nudge to continue its plan to open up C103, a former nightclub that has been empty for some years, to create a new community asset and space for a wide range of vital community activities.  

The goal is to create a space for underrepresented communities to celebrate their culture. This will be supported by growing Nudge’s training offer, creating new businesses and building stronger awareness and understanding between communities. 

Nudge says it will also work with Plymouth Energy Community Trust to develop and trial a DIY energy survey and carry out technical appraisals for community buildings.