Diana Varakina, Co-op Member Pioneer for Wanstead and South Woodford, reports on the supermarket’s latest Local Community Fund awards and encourages applications for the new round

I want to thank everyone in this wonderful community where so many of you (too many names to mention) donated your knowledge, time, skills and resources over the last 14 months to benefit us all. It’s a difficult time for all of us and it is such an inspiring neighbourhood to live in. I am forever grateful I ended up living here by accident. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Today, I would like to bring to your attention the Local Community Fund initiative that Co-op has been running for a number of years now. Wanstead Parish is one of the beneficiaries of the fund’s Round 6, along with Snaresbrook Primary School. The first payout was at the beginning of April, and Snaresbrook Primary School was awarded £1,298 and Wanstead Parish £1,588.

Wanstead Parish will use the funds to support their outreach programmes. It is the second year of funding for the Snaresbrook Primary School PTA, and the money will be used to improve the fitness and well-being of children by laying protective surfaces on their new multi-use games area, as well as buying new equipment for nursery and reception classes.

Projects across the UK that Co-op members are passionate about are supported by the Co-op Local Community Fund. Every time a member buys selected Co-op branded products and services, two pence of every pound spent is returned as cashback, and we give the same to support community organisations and local causes. You do need to be a Co-op member to support your preferred cause. If you have a blue Co-op card, you should already be a member, but will need to register to be able to select your local cause.

Applications for the new Round 7 funding opens on 4 May. To be accepted, you must have a project in mind that will benefit your local community. Many applications are from charities or local community groups, but as long as your organisation isn’t run for private profit, you can apply. Your project should fit one of the following categories:

Fairer access to food.

Fairer access to mental well-being services.

Fairer access to education and employment for young people.

Once accepted, you will need to encourage Co-op members to select your cause by promoting your project on social media and in your community.

Shortlisting usually happens in September or October, and the first payout will be in April 2022, so any project should be able to support itself until then. Good luck, everyone!

For more information on the Co-op Local Community Fund, visit wnstd.com/coop or email diana.varakina@coop.co.uk