TO help tackle alarming levels of food poverty across Warrington, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has launched a special Response Fund in partnership with Company Shop Group, who pride themselves in turning problems into potential, using surplus food and household products.
As part of the strategic partnership, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust will provide £50,000 worth of funding to eligible initiatives that address food insecurity. For funding involving feeding families and children, Company Shop Group will match fund, creating a fund value of up to £100,000.
For example, successful applicants for projects feeding family and children would be awarded £2,500 by Coalfields Regeneration Trust. Company Shop Group’s generous offer would enable it to commit an additional £2,500 to give a project value of £5,000. The funds will ultimately be distributed to local people, particularly children and families, in the form of vouchers that can be redeemed for food and drink (excluding alcoholic drinks) in Company Shop stores.
Andy Lock, Head of Operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: “Since lock-down, we have seen an unprecedented demand for food banks as poverty and hunger has hit. This is expected to get worse as job losses intensify and hours are cut.”
“Before Covid-19, our communities were already experiencing significant health inequalities, with this added adversity, they are in crisis and need our help in accessing good quality, healthy and affordable food. Whether we support food banks, food parcel schemes or meal delivery services, we must get food onto the table of those people that cannot afford it.”
Projects can apply for up to £2,500 worth of vouchers and, if successful, will be granted membership to Company Shop, a redistribution supermarket, which will maximise their purchasing power. In addition to the match funding, the discounts offered by Company Shop Group mean for every £10 spent, a project will typically get £30 in goods.
The partnership and match-funding agreement has been enabled by a significant donation from Nestle to Community Shop, the award-winning social enterprise under the Company Shop Group umbrella. Community Shop aims to build stronger individuals and more confident communities, and throughout the summer strives to tackle holiday hunger.
Steph McGinty, Retail, People & Communities Director, said:“We have worked closely with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for many years and are thrilled to be partnering on this new initiative which will help both organisations to reach even more children and families across the coalfield communities, at a time when they will benefit from our support the most.
“We are grateful for the generous support provided by the team at Nestle which has made this opportunity possible, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Coalfields Regeneration Trust as we help to make a difference in the communities and to the families we are proud to serve.”
Successful projects will shop at one of seven of Company Shop Group’s redistribution superstores which are located across England, at Wentworth (Barnsley), Middleton (Greater Manchester), St Helens (North West), Washington (Tyne and Wear), Long Eaton (Derbyshire), Corby (Northamptonshire) and Grimsby (North East Lincolnshire). They provide high-quality, low-cost food and essential products to its members – all which may have otherwise gone to waste.
Lock adds: “As recently revealed in our State of the Coalfields 2019 report, 42 per cent of residents in our communities sit within the 30 per cent most deprived in the UK. The findings from the report also highlighted that the percentage of residents aged 16 and above reporting health problems lasting more than 12 months was 38 per cent, compared to 27 per cent in London.
“We must continue to do something to change this. We know that if we are to see lasting change for generations, we need a dedicated commitment from Government. That is why we are calling for a ring-fenced Coalfield Investment Fund, which will be used to tackle the many and varied challenges that still exist.”
For further details about the programme and the application process, please visit: https://www.coalfields-regen.org.uk/england/the-coalfield-food-insecurity-response-fund/. For more information about The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, visit www.coalfields-regen.org.uk and for regular updates, please follow @CoalfieldsRegen on Twitter.