New community ventures from Midcounties Co-op

The society has opened a community space in one of its stores and has continued its work to support people in food poverty

Midcounties Co-op has launched a community space in its Longlevens store, giving local organisations an area to meet, run events or host information sessions free of charge.

The 1,000 sq ft space will also be home to the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled Association’s second charity shop, which will sell used equine and country clothing and accessories, and a range of bric-a-brac, to raise funds for the charity’s riding school which delivers riding lessons to those living with physical and mental disabilities.

The charity shop will be run by participants from the Aston Project, an initiative that aims to inspire positive futures for young people by helping them to find work placements and apprenticeship schemes, as well as volunteers from the Cotswold RDA and members of Midcounties.

To mark the launch, Matt Windridge and Chris Chandler from Midcounties visited the site to present two of its local community partners – the Aston Project and Gloucestershire Young Carers – with donations of £10,000.

Mr Windridge said: “Supporting our communities is at the heart of everything we do. There are so many amazing organisations working hard to help those most in need, and I’m so pleased that we’re able to play our part in ensuring this invaluable work continues – whether that’s by offering them space to bring people together, or through our fundraising efforts.”

Claire Jenkins, general manager of Cotswold RDA, said: “Midcounties has supported the work of Cotswold RDA for many, many years. The community space within their Longlevens store is a very exciting innovation and we are thrilled to be a part of this.

“One of the RDA ponies, Dave, who was present on the opening day, has starred in some children’s storybooks about his adventures. The author, Lois Kingscott, will be doing some readings from the books in the autumn.”

Midcounties has also just presented a £2,000 donation to Help to Make Tummies Full to help fund the charity’s Summer Holiday Food Scheme.

Help to Make Tummies Full is based in Walsall and aims to reduce child hunger by delivering food parcels to schools, social workers, support workers and directly to homes, to support families who are struggling to feed their children.

Midcounties’ donation helped more than 300 families receive food parcels in the local area over the summer holidays.

Lucy Dennis, founder and CEO of Help to Make Tummies Full, said: “The donation from Midcounties meant that 309 families had full tummies this summer. They could open their fridges and find cheese, ham, chicken, bread, butter, eggs and yoghurts. This donation really helped to reduce child poverty in our area, and we are eternally grateful for the donation.”

Mike Pickering, co-operative social responsibility manager at Midcounties, said: “Supporting our local communities is at the heart of everything we do.

“Our Community Funding scheme is designed to help organisations of all different kinds who are doing their bit to make a difference in their community. Make Tummies Full is the perfect example of that and we’re so pleased to have been able to support the amazing work that they do.”