By Caroline Hunter, Head of Co-op Home Insurance

I’m delighted to say that we’ve finished our hunt for the UK’s Neighbour of the Year 2019. We were looking for people who go above and beyond to help their neighbourhood and surrounding community and we found lots of them.

In our new category of Community Spaces Champion, we wanted to celebrate someone who has shown commitment to either save, improve, or use a local space for the good of their neighbours or overall community. Everything we do is rooted in our members and the communities we serve, and these awards encapsulate just that.

The Community Spaces Champion is particularly important as it highlights a key focus area of our Co-operate 2022 community plan, spaces, where we are also concentrating on skills and wellbeing. We’re currently working in partnership with Locality as part of our Endangered Spaces campaign where we aim to protect, support and improve 2,000 at-risk community spaces by 2022.

I was lucky enough to be on the panel of judges from Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch. When judging the awards, we were very impressed with what so many people are doing daily – both big and small – to create a true sense of community in their area. The entries and our overall winners show just how important a sense of community wellbeing is, and how spaces play such a crucial role in allowing people to come together to ensure happy and healthy communities.

Kevin Plicio from Sutton, London, was the worthy Community Spaces Champion for 2019 and was nominated 17 times for the award for his involvement in setting up YourSpace Sutton. He’s grown the community project from scratch, turning what was a neglected area behind a park into a community hub where all members of the community can come and enjoy the gardens, have tea and cake in the cafe, and bring children for painting workshops.

Kevin has a team of volunteers that help with the upkeep and the running of YourSpace, and it’s fast becoming a meeting place for coffee amongst mothers and their children, retired people, disabled people, and the whole community.

For more information about Neighbour of the Year, visit the Co-op Insurance hub. You can also learn more about Kevin and the amazing work he’s done in our video: