An impressive £24,000 has been handed out to three local good causes by the Swanage Co-op after the supermarket donated a proportion of the money that shoppers spent on own brand goods.
The annual Local Community Fund event is run across thousands of Co-op stores in the UK, and once again Swanage was one of the best performing centres in the country, putting many larger towns to shame.
Swanage Co-op shoppers contributed towards a bumper charity payout
Large cheques to make grand plans happen
Large cheques were handed out to two of Swanage Co-op supermarket’s three chosen local charities on Saturday 5th November 2022, and already there are plans taking shape to help make life better for hundreds of local people.
Swanage town crier Andrew Fleming called for attention at the busy store as the Greengage Community Garden for Wellbeing accepted a cheque for £7,639.17 while the Swanage Disabled Club received £9,112.46.
Mount Scar Cygnets, the playgroup based at Swanage Primary School, could not attend the event but will pick up its cheque on Thursday 24th November
All are looking to plough the donations back into ambitious plans to benefit the town.
Mount Scar Cygnets plans to use its windfall to create a fenced off sensory garden outdoors which can provide areas for young children to dig and to grow flowers and plants.
Grrengage Community Garden intends to spend its money on a new cabin where school parties, art classes and therapy groups can meet in comfort, while the Swanage Disabled Club will put its money towards a new community minibus to take care home residents and other groups on days out.
Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming calls for silence ahead of the cheque presentations
Swanage store always one of the best performers
Since 2017, the Co-op’s national scheme to raise money for small local charities has raised £117 million, and Swanage has always been one of the best performing stores in the country.
Whenever shoppers at the Co-op scan their membership cards at the till, 2p for every £1 spent on Co-op branded products is put into a fund to help three community groups a year, which are selected from names put forward by local stores.
In the last year, shoppers at the store in Swanage raised exactly £24,090.68.
Mount Scar Cygnets Playgroup received their cheque on Thursday 24th November 2022
Mount Scar Cygnets Playgroup is creating a sensory garden for its young children to grow plants
Helping smaller groups which don’t get national funding
Swanage Co-op manager Simon Lightburn said:
“We are delighted to be able to help put money back into the community and hope the funds allow our chosen groups to go from strength to strength.
“Over the years, we have been able to help lots of projects for the Swanage area become a reality, and it is particularly nice that we can help smaller groups who often do not get much national funding.
“We are quite a large store, and it does help that we are the main supermarket in Swanage, but the more people who use their membership cards the better – not only do they benefit from price reductions, they can also help us to put money back into their local community.”
Greengage Community Garden staff Derek Keller and Bob Walters with town crier Andrew Fleming and Co-op manager Simon Lightburn
Peaceful surrounds of a working garden
Greengage Community Garden was originally run by Dorset Wildlife Trust as a therapy centre for people with Alzheimers and dementia, but when the trust had to pull out local volunteers took on the task of expanding it.
Now the garden is open to all, including older people, those with long term health problems and those on their own, who want to connect with others in the peaceful surrounds of a working garden.
The Greengage Community Garden is a wellbeing site as well as a productive garden
Fruit, vegetables and flowers grown on site go to a food bank and help town charities
Donations to food banks to help in hard times
Chair of Greengage Bob Walters said:
“We are based off Prospect Crescent next to the allotments and meet every Friday. We have a fantastic team of 20 core volunteers making the garden productive and then we donate what we grow to the food bank for groups like the Salvation Army and others – it’s a way of helping the community in these hard times
“But we also aim to encourage gardening for wellbeing and people come along for a chat with us or just to enjoy the gardens. We hope to use the Co-op’s very generous gift to put up a building on site that can be used as a classroom for school parties or therapy groups, or just as a place to relax and take breaks from gardening activities.
“The gardens produce all sorts of plants and vegetables, from onions, peppers and tomatoes to raspberries and apples, as well as herbs and an area for wild flowers – but there is always time for a cup of tea and a chat, and we feel that the mutual support we offer to volunteers and visitors is very important.”
The Greengage Community Garden is running a Christmas fair on site on Friday 9th December for those who would like to find out more about the work they do.
Volunteers at the community garden have transformed the grounds in the last five years
Now the site has raised beds, greenhouses and a very productive vegetable garden
“We try to provide a service as well as being a club”
Swanage Disabled Club is planning to put the money it received from the Co-op towards a new adapted minibus for community use.
Chair of the club Sue Payne said:
“We have two specially adapted buses which can be prebooked with a donation, but one is getting a bit old.
“We always provide trained volunteer drivers and escorts for the buses and, for example, care homes can use them to take their residents for a day out – we do try to provide a service to the community as well as just being a club.
“We also provide equipment for loan with a small donation, like wheelchairs, in case a family member comes to stay and is in short-term need of something to make their visit easier.”
Swanage Disabled Club treasurer Virginia Payne, chair Sue Payne and secretary Daphne Saville collect their cheque
Swanage Disabled Club volunteers with one of their existing buses
Taking a broad view to help as many as possible
Swanage Disabled Club, which meets at All Saints Church Hall, Ulwell, on Monday afternoons, takes a broad view of the term ‘disabled’ so members may be deaf, elderly or perhaps just lonely and in need of company.
Typical events during meetings would include playing dominoes or Scrabble, doing puzzles or using their handicraft skills to make toys and clothes that the club can sell to help raise more funds.
The club holds various outings across the year as well as an annual lunch at a local Swanage hotel, and fund raising events help to subsidise these activities.
Toys and clothing made by Swanage Disabled Club members go on sale to raise more funds
Proud to use Swanage store as a community hub
Caroline Gray, who helps organise the community fundraising scheme for Swanage Coop said:
“The Co-op’s ethos is very much to help local communities and we are proud to use the Swanage store as a local hub wherever we can.
“On the second and fourth Thursday of every month the Co-op donates a space to any local charity or cause in Purbeck which they can use however they want – to sell things, hold a raffle, give out out leaflets or just raise awareness of what they do.
“We’ll organise the posters and publicity for them, as often they are smaller clubs with an older demographic and have less opportunity to let the area know about the good work they do.
“We have already welcomed the Volunteer Bureau, and look forward to hosting Swanage Community Pantry, Mount Scar Cygnets Playgroup and Swanage Dementia Friendly Community in the coming weeks.”
It’s what we do… Caroline Gray of the Co-op thanked all shoppers who helped raise £24,000 for local charities
The three charities chosen for 2023 are…
The three local charities which have been chosen for Swanage Co-op’s 2023 community fund are Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership, Swanage Town and Herston Football Club and Wellbeing Swanage.
Local charities which would like to be considered for the 2024 scheme, or which would like to take part in the Co-op’s community groups promotion are invited to email Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org