Reading about Respect for Shopworkers Week, what our colleagues can go through and what we’re doing to make them safer, has got me reflecting on how the Local Community Fund links into it all.

We give 1% of what members spend on Co-op branded products and selected services through our Local Community Fund to help bring people together and invest in their future. This year, we’re paying out £19 million to our local causes, and a lot of this money is helping make communities safer.

Thanks to our members, since the Local Community Fund began over £2.6 million has been shared with more than 1,200 causes that are making a positive impact on crime in the community. They’re funding things like youth projects, drug and addiction charities, community sports clubs and mental health networks.

It’s great to see our Fund helping tackle the root causes of crime, educating and empowering people to prevent them from offending. I’ve chosen a couple of examples to share; these show the direct impact our members’ money makes on building stronger, safer communities for everyone.

The Archway Project, London

For many young people in South East London, finding a job can be incredibly difficult. Without support and guidance, it can even seem impossible; this can often mean seeing crime as the only option. Based in Thamesmead, this project gives those young people the opportunity to replace criminal records with meaningful work.

The Archway Project doesn’t discriminate; it’s there to help all 11 to 25 year-olds who need it, whether they’re physically or mentally disadvantaged. It provides training in a whole host of areas, from engineering, cookery and IT to off-road biking, motorcycling and wall climbing.

All courses are officially recognised (by either the Business and Technology Education Council or the Assessment and Qualification Alliance); they give people valuable, employable skills and proper qualifications. This, alongside the employment advice the project provides, give these young people what they need to find jobs and build a life away from crime.

Streetsport, Aberdeen, Scotland

Based in Aberdeen, Streetsport is a non-profit initiative that reduces instances of youth crime and anti-social behaviour. It does this by offering free sports and creative activities across the city, all year round.

Its mobile activity arenas run during peak times of anti-social behaviour, encouraging young people to get involved with them rather than crime. In many cases, this prevents crimes happening in the first place. Giving attendees a fun environment to feel safe and supported, they can become confident and responsible within their communities.

Simon Kirby
Community Data & Insight Manager