A new £1 million fund has been launched by Co-op’s charity, The Co-op Foundation, today (Wednesday, 1 May) to enable groups in Wales with a community and environmental focus to safeguard spaces and become more sustainable.
The funding boost has been generated by proceeds from the 5p single-use carrier bag charge in the Co-op’s Welsh food stores.
Welsh groups can “bag” grants of up to £10,000 to explore enterprising ideas that could contribute to a more sustainable future for their community space. Funding could support feasibility costs, technical or legal fees and, projects which test and explore new ideas. Eligible organisations must engage local people and support the environment, and applications close at noon on Friday, 21 June.
In addition, interest-free loans of up to £50,000 are available to organisations to grow more established business ideas. Loans are usually repaid within five years with no need to make repayments in the first year. Some organisations could be eligible for a further grant dependent upon circumstances.
Jim Cooke, Head of The Co-op Foundation, said: “Spaces like parks and woodlands need regular funds so they can meet the needs of the people who use them, love them and rely on them. This builds stronger communities for today, and a better environment for the future. We look forward to hearing from organisations with enterprising ideas that will boost their trading activities, support local people and help create a better environment for us all.”
The Co-op Foundation has been awarding funding to help community spaces UK-wide become more sustainable since 2017. One group to benefit recently is Welcome to our Woods, based in the Rhondda Fawr Valley, South Wales. Its £90,000 funding boost will enable it to up-scale its conversion of waste wood into saleable products like furniture and biomass fuel, generating income to help maintain more areas of woodland sustainably, while creating jobs, training and volunteering opportunities for local people.
Ian Thomas, Welcome to our Woods Director, said: ““The natural landscape presents a huge opportunity and this funding boost from The Co-op Foundation will be instrumental in unlocking the resources and possibilities – it is a unique opportunity to explore projects which can improve the management of our environment while creating value for the local community. Co-op Foundation funding is a perfect fit for our enterprise. The interest-free loan means we can grow our trading activities without the added cost of interest rates. We’re looking forward to a more sustainable future for our organisation and our woodlands.”