New co-op partnership to help communities

The Co-op Foundation has appointed Co-operative & Community Finance as its advisory partner in the development of a new programme of grants and social investments, which will support community-run enterprises in disadvantaged areas of the UK.

An initial pilot will focus on four areas of community life: community centres, housing, transport and green spaces. A small number of community-led enterprises based within the 20% most deprived areas of the UK will be supported with a tailored package of grants and loans or equity finance.

Once the effectiveness of the pilot has been analysed, the programme is likely to be rolled out on a larger scale across the whole of the UK.

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said: “This programme aims to put communities in control, helping them run their most valued places, spaces and services more sustainably. By offering groups the right mix of grants and investment, we hope to help them develop enterprising solutions to local challenges. Co-operative & Community Finance’s track record of lending to social businesses in disadvantaged communities made them the ideal partner to help us shape and deliver this work.”

Tim Coomer, Business Development Manager of Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Co-op Foundation to support projects that are making a difference in disadvantaged communities. During the six-month pilot we will be developing systems and identifying groups that are in a position to accept and make immediate use of the finance.”

Co-operative & Community Finance was appointed as the advisory partner from a short list of six organisations.