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This Co-operative Fortnight we’re celebrating the difference that co-operative’s make to people’s lives around the world. Here’s how our co-operative works together with the UK’s largest.
Hulme Community Garden Centre has been a co-op since it began in 1988. Our members and volunteers are fundamental to the garden centre, and for their own personal reasons we are to them. So it’s our mission to make it sustainable.
Local Community Fund
We found out about Co-op giving 1% to support local causes through our local store manager at the Birley Fields store. We were excited to learn that they had extended the reach of their Local Community Fund to help other co-ops and social enterprises apply, as well as charities and community groups. This enabled us to apply.
As a garden centre we have mixed income streams and still rely on grants for 30% of our funding, so we were thrilled when we were accepted to be one of Co-op’s local causes and started raising awareness straight away to encourage as many Co-op Members in our local area to choose us as their cause.
The funding allowed us to build a yurt for our skills and community based activities, such as a toddler group. Meaning we could be active throughout the year, something we’ve never had the spare money to do. All our volunteers were involved in building the yurt and we attracted some new community members too which was fantastic to see.
Becoming a local cause opened more doors
Our long term goal was to expand and build a new shop and volunteer hub but our resources never enabled us to build the extra space we needed.
That was until we were approached by the Co-op Foundation who offered us a funding package through their Community Spaces programme, in the form of an interest-free loan to help cover the costs of the build. We also received support through a grant to help cover community outreach costs, including employee salaries. This was a huge step for us as we have never taken the leap in to finance but it felt right taking it with the Co-op Foundation. We will begin the build towards the end of the summer and it should be completed by the end of the year.
Building stronger communities
We chose to be a co-op because part of being a co-op is to build stronger communities. We do this on a daily basis through volunteering projects, local business partnerships and community events. Our events enable new and old faces to come together and share what projects they’ve worked on in our community.
Co-op Members have the power to make a huge difference to their communities by choosing a local cause and we can’t thank them enough for the support they’ve given us. I would definitely recommend other Co-op Members to choose a local cause to support with their 1% or let local causes know about the great work the Co-op does for the community.
Hulme Community Garden Centre Manager
Read more about Co-op local causes and our Local Community Fund