By Rebecca Birkbeck, Director Community and Shared Value
Today marks an important milestone for Co-operate 2022 our community plan as we’ve officially launched our spaces campaign.
If you were one of the 10,000 members and colleagues who, along with our communities, helped us to shape our plan through the Wellbeing Index and joined in to identify the key areas that make communities stronger and places to live and work – thankyou.
Community spaces today
We all want to live somewhere with a true sense of community spirit. I spent last Saturday morning watching my son play for his football team in the park and the afternoon at a Great Get Together held in my street. I loved chatting with my neighbours, some of whom I hadn’t met before. Across the country you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands of people standing in parks watching team sports on a weekend morning, there’s coffee mornings, baby groups, allotments – the list is long and far reaching. What you may not have thought about, is that it is generally a space or a place that ties these communities and their activities together.
Unfortunately, councils are under budget pressures and the UK is losing over 4,000 publicly owned buildings and spaces every year. We think 16,000 of these spaces will be at risk by 2022.
This is why we’re partnering with Locality and are launching today our Endangered Spaces campaign to protect, support and improve 2,000 at-risk community spaces over the next three years. Alongside Locality, we’ve created the Endangered Spaces Report which investigates how people across the country make use of, interact with and feel about their community spaces. There’s an overwhelming sense that more needs to be done to protect them, and ensuring these spaces remain open and ready to welcome people is essential to keeping communities together.
How you can help #SaveOurSpaces
This new campaign empowers people to help save these spaces from extinction; demonstrating co-operation in practice. For more information or to highlight a space that you think needs our support click here.
We’re working together with our Co-op Foundation and Locality, to save and support community spaces. A £1.6m match-funding partnership between Co-op Foundation and Government is available, as well as an additional £1.3m being available through the Co-op Local Community Fund to help protect these spaces. Additional support also includes a dedicated free advice hotline from Locality, specialised toolkits and access to guidance from Co-op Member Pioneers.
A note from Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality
“At Locality, we’ve known for some time that many of our important local buildings and spaces are being lost. These are the everyday places where extraordinary things happen, where local people come together, access vital services and support each other. That’s why we’re working with Co-op to save our much-loved community buildings and spaces from being sold off for private use. We will protect, support and improve community spaces over the next three years, demonstrating co-operation in practice. Together we can save community spaces from extinction.”
This is the start of a journey, that we believe will really enable us to enhance communities across the country and tie them together, in a really co-operative way.
You can also share what we are up to on social media using #SaveOurSpaces and #ItsWhatWeDo so more communities can seek our support. Find some materials to help you in our online library.