The challenges of the pandemic are far from over for grassroot local community groups, according to a new survey from the Co-op. 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.
Over 3,000 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.
To address this and help create fairer communities, Co-op is inviting grassroots projects in Sheffield that support access to food, help improve mental wellbeing or provide opportunities for young people, to apply for the Local Community Fund.
The fund has supported 688 local causes in Sheffield, raising £1,940,500 since it began in 2016.
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.
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 grass roots 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.
“Members are encouraged to select a cause each round, allowing them to support grassroots causes in Sheffield that they really care about.
“This year, when a group applies for the Local Community Fund, we will also connect them to 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.”
Applications close on May 30 and local groups can find out more at coop.co.uk/causes.