A Swindon-based co-op is celebrating after scooping a bumper £10,000 from The Midcounties Co-operative’s Community Fund.
Leaves, a non-profit-making workers co-operative offering gardening, conservation, recycling and waste collection services, helps people across Swindon recover from mental health issues by providing supportive employment and the opportunity to rebuild their working lives.
The funding, provided by Midcounties to coincide with the International Year of Co-operatives, will provide a major boost to the organisation, helping it to subsidise its gardening services to the elderly business, develop a programme of community conservation projects and establish a training scheme to assist members in developing general life skills, communication and business planning techniques. The funds will also help Leaves put in place a robust quality management system designed to put the operation on a firm footing for future stability and profitability.
Bob Astbury, Co-ordinator at Leaves, said: “This award is a lifeline for our organisation. We stand or fall by the income we generate and this injection of capital will allow us to support our frontline community services as well as develop the operational infrastructure that is so vital to the future success of the organisation.”
Maxine Sharman, Head of Community Engagement at Midcounties, added: “International Year of the Co-operatives is all about showcasing the great work undertaken by member-owned businesses in their local communities so we’re delighted to have such a compelling example on our patch. We’re confident this award will enable the organisation to go from strength to strength.”
The £2million fund was established in November 2011 and was created from dormant Midcounties Co-operative share accounts, together with Government match funding. A total of £120,000 is being distributed to support 114 groups in the Society’s trading heartlands in the third round of grant giving.
The fund makes grants twice a year working in partnership with nine Community Foundations covering the areas where Midcounties trades – The Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Swindon, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. To apply for funding, applicants must be a member of The Midcounties Co-operative and meet its criteria.
Pictured top, from left: Darren Preece from Leaves, Julie Welsh, Garden Team Leader for Leaves, Gordon Monahan, Manager of Midcounties’ Swindon Old Town store, garden owners John and Margaret Smart and Les Jerram from Leaves.
Bottom, from left: garden owner Margaret Smart, Julie Welsh, Garden Team Leader of Leaves, Les Jerram, Leaves, John Smart, garden owner, Gordon Monahan, Manager of Midcounties’ Swindon Old Town store and Darren Preece from Leaves.