Co-op shoppers help raise huge windfall for Swanage groups

Three good causes in Swanage have benefited to the tune of more than £24,000 thanks to the Co-op supermarket’s annual local community fund event.

A proportion of money spent by Co-op members on the supermarket’s own brand goods is ploughed back into groups chosen by the store’s shoppers themselves, and the Swanage branch consistently raises one of the highest totals in the UK.


Co-op members have helped to raise £24,000 for local causes in the last year

Celebration day to thank shoppers

This year, an amazing total of £24,084.92 was shared between the Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership, the Wellbeing Swanage Community Cafe and Pantry, and Swanage Town and Herston Football Club.

A special celebration day was held at Swanage Co-op on Thursday 16th November 2023 to hand out cheques to the groups, who had a chance to thank shoppers and let them know how the money will be put to good use.

Swanage Co-op manager Simon Lightburn said:

“We are delighted to be able to help put money back into the local community and hope the funds allow our chosen groups to do great things in the town, especially smaller groups who often do not get much national funding.

“The Co-op’s ethos is very much to help local communities and we are proud that the Swanage store raises so much year after year to help benefit local good causes which benefit the town so much.”

Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership members picked up a cheque for more than £8,500

New defibrillator for Compass Point

Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership, which was awarded £8,539.85, is using the windfall to update some of its older equipment to make sure that lives will continue to be saved in Purbeck.

Funds will pay for a new defibrillator outside St Mary’s School in Northbrook Road which will cover the new Compass Point estate, and replace batteries and pads for many of the older machines.

The group, which set up eight years ago with the intention of funding four defibrillators for Swanage, has now put 42 of them in place which have been deployed more than 180 times, helping people who have suffered heart attacks while out and about.

Shoppers at the Co-op were shown how the defibrillator equipment can save lives

Essential life saving equipment

Dave Corben, a founder member of the Swanage Community Defibrillator Group, said:

“These are essential pieces of life saving equipment – two people have been saved in recent months alone – but we are thinking about replacing some of the older models now because they have been around for so long.

“It is an expensive task – defibrillators cost £2,000, the non rechargeable batteries are £160 a time, pads have nearly doubled in price to £60, and if they are ever taken out for use they can never be reused.

“Some of the cabinets now have emergency first aid packs as well, and one of those was used on Saturday to stem bleeding when a lady fell over by the station.

“Swanage has responded magnificently to our charity – I have had people on more than one occasion come into my office, ask how much a defib costs, and write a cheque out for one there and then, just asking not to have their name disclosed.”

Swanage Sea Rowing defibrillator box

Purbeck’s 42 defibrillators have been deployed more than 180 times now

“We are very grateful to the Co-op”

Training days are organised for many Swanage groups to spread the word on how defibrillators are used, but Dave Corben added:

“It is important to know that if you open up a cabinet, take a defibrillator out and press the on button, it will tell you exactly what to do in clear steps.

“One common misconception is that people are worried they will electrocute someone if they use the defib while the heart is beating.

“However, the defib is designed to only deliver a shock when the heart is stopped, so if there is any heartbeat there no shock will be delivered – you cannot do any harm with one.

“We are very grateful to the Coop and all their customers who selected us as one of their charities of choice – without their help we would not be able to continue.”

Kim Gallagher explains the work of the Wellbeing Community Cafe and Pantry

Plans for a new wellbeing lounge

Wellbeing Swanage Community Cafe and Pantry received a cheque for £8,067.69 which will go towards the cost of setting up a Wellbeing Lounge and community hub at The Centre in Chapel Lane, as well as developing the Wellbeing website.

The website acts as a directory of free and affordable local community groups and services to help keep Swanage residents fit and well, both through physical activities and health matters.

It gathers a growing collection of resources that might help people with all sorts of concerns, touching on anything from heart disease and bereavement support to young persons health and weight management.

Wellbeing also runs a community cafe and pantry at Herson village hall to redistribute food which would otherwise go to waste, much of it also provided by the Co-op supermarket.

But a much bigger project in the pipeline is to set up a new Wellbeing Lounge at the Chapel Lane site so that they can have face to face contact with families needing help.

The £8,000 presented by Swanage Co-op manager Simon Lightburn will help fund a new Wellbeing Lounge

A central hub to offer help

Kim Gallagher, who is driving the project forward with the help of Purbeck and Swanage Development Trust, said:

“We currently run a community cafe and pantry at Herston Village Hall on Monday mornings to share good quality food and help reduce food waste in the community.

“We have links with the Seahorses Playgroup and Swanage Youth Club who also use the village hall, as well as with schools and some old people’s homes so we can get food out everywhere.

“But we felt that Swanage lacks a central hub where people can come in for help, so we are working with Dorset Council and Swanage Town Council to provide a Wellbeing Lounge and cafe at the Swanage Day Centre and Children’s Centre.

“The idea is that the whole of that centre becomes a community hub where people can come in and find out where they can go for help.

“That will help us to understand what the gaps are in Swanage – we want to keep the services we have and improve on them to improve the health and wellbeing of the whole town.

“We hope the buildings would also be let out for services which benefit the community now and react to any gaps in service which are identified in future.”

Ambitious regeneration plans at Swanage Town and Herston Football Club are already under way

Building youth teams at football club

Swanage Town and Herston Football Club was awarded £7,477.38 which it will put towards building youth teams at the club.

Chair of the football club Andy Dunster said:

“Our football club is very proud in providing a facility for all young people in our community to come together through football.

“By providing footballing opportunities for all children, our volunteers are continuing to support the youngsters’ physical and mental wellbeing with an emphasis on fun, so this payment is simply wonderful.”

The focus for the Swans in the last year has been to encourage very young players to participate and the welcome windfall will go toward funding new kits and equipment for the club’s eleven mixed youth teams, five new girls’ teams and the ‘Young Kickers’, who are aged from two to six years old.

New floodlights installed at football club
Gerald Dimarco

New floodlights were installed at the Days Park ground in June 2022

“Great to see how proud our local children are”

Club secretary Ali Newell added:

“I can’t thank the Co-op enough for facilitating this amazing scheme for our football club.

“The money that the local people of Swanage have directed to us really is crucial in order to enable our local youngsters to train with decent equipment, play in league matches and other tournaments.

“It’s great to see how proud our local children are to represent their community by wearing the football club’s kit.”

With a huge surge in numbers of club members and a rapidly expanding youth section, now with about 200 members, the ground at Days Park is looking to be redeveloped.

Swanage Town and Herston Football Club

Award winners from the 2022 / 23 season at the football club, where membership has never been higher

Further information

  • Latest news from the Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership is on its Facebook page
  • The Wellbeing Swanage self help directory is on its informative website
  • More about Swanage Town and Herston Football Club is on its website

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