When we first moved to Somerset, it was a bit of culture shock to say the least. On that first weary night we drove into the nearest town, looking for food. All of the take-away joints either looked dismal or were closed. Exhausted, we pulled up in front of the Co-op, which was, mercifully, open. It was, I think, the first time I'd ever been in a Co-op. I was surprised to find that so much of the produce was fair trade. I still do a lot of my supermarket shopping there, including things like cotton wool pads, as even those are fair trade. Fair trade is very important to me.
On one of my earlier trips, I was invited to join the membership; every time I shop there, what I spend represents my share of the profit and it is converted back into a dividend for me - and I can either opt to have it paid to me or into the community membership fund.
That community membership fund is then paid back to the community in the form of grants. Groups can apply to the fund for a grant; so far this year The Co-operative Members have donated £1.2 million to local community groups across the country. It is a registered charity and is governed by The Co-operative Community Investment Fund (CCIF). This board of trustees are responsible for ensuring funds to projects are given in line with the Charities Commission guidelines. Grants vary from a minimum of £100 to a maximum of £2,000.
All the group need do is apply through the website for a grant. To be successful a group must:
- Carry out positive work in the community (it does not have to have charitable status to apply)
- Address a community issue
- provide a long-term benefit to the community
- Support co-operative values and principles
- Ideally be innovative in its approach
We could actually really do with a swimming pool. A grant isn't going to build one though, sadly.
(this has been a sponsored post, although, for the record, I think the idea of the community fund is a great idea, regardless of any fee that I may have been given to post. What can I say, "funding" down here is slow, a girls gotta eat).
Cooperative Membership Fund
(Image courtesy of ebuzzing)
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