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Caithness groups urged to apply to Co-op's community fund


By John Davidson

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Rebecca Birkbeck.
Rebecca Birkbeck.

Good causes in Caithness are being urged to apply to a community fund as it emerged that grassroots groups are in high demand.

A survey from the Co-op found that the challenges of the pandemic are far from over, with growing demand on lifeline services.

It found more than three quarters of surveyed community causes expected demand for their services to increase over the next six months, including 94 per cent of groups working to support mental wellbeing, 96 per cent of groups supporting young people and 83 per cent of those tackling food poverty.

More than 3000 local causes from across the UK shared how the pandemic has affected their groups and communities, making the survey one of the largest of its kind, and highlighting that support for local community groups is needed now more than ever before.

The Co-op’s says its Local Community Fund has raised more than £143,000 for local causes in Caithness since 2016.

It is now inviting grassroots projects in Caithness that support access to food, help improve mental wellbeing or provide opportunities for young people, to apply for the fund.

Applications are open from Tuesday, May 4 until May 30.

Despite 53 per cent of causes saying that funding has decreased, the survey evidenced the resilience and ingenuity of local community groups in responding to the pandemic, with 76 per cent delivering their services in new ways, 75 per cent finding new sources of funding and 70 per cent developing and improving their digital skills.

Co-op’s current Local Community Fund causes are already playing a key role in helping communities rebuild, with 95 per cent of causes stating that their project was helping their community’s response to the pandemic.

Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community and shared value at the Co-op, said: “Our Co-op vision is ‘co-operating for a fairer world’ and it’s heartening to see this come to life in these grassroots projects. Our Local Community Fund and support from our members has been a lifeline throughout the pandemic, and we want even more local groups to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Findings from the survey, our own Community Wellbeing Index, members and colleagues has shown us that we can all come together to make the world a fairer place. Even with the easing of lockdown, the communities across the UK will still need our help.

“Members are encouraged to select a cause each round, allowing them to support grassroots causes in Caithness that they really care about.

“This year, when a group applies for the Local Community Fund, we will also connect them to Co-operate (coop.co.uk/co-operate), our online community centre, where they can come together and benefit from help and support from like-minded people and causes. This is an exciting development which shows the power of co-operation beyond funding.”

Local groups can find out more at coop.co.uk/causes


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