Warm communities fund set up by Neighbourly as charities struggle with chilling impact of recession

December 2, 2022

Innovative Bristol-based community engagement platform Neighbourly has launched a special fund to provide targeted support to charities and organisations on the frontline of the cost of living crisis.

The warm communities fund is aimed at groups already in Neighbourly’s network that need additional support to provide food donations and warm banks in the run-up to Christmas – which will be a particularly challenging time for many this year. 

Businesses and individuals can make donations to the fund, with grants to be distributed over the winter period and beyond.

The campaign will be ‘needs-led’ – the support will be focused on charities where there is a shortfall between existing support and demand.

Micro-grants will be provided via the Neighbourly Foundation, most recently used to distribute M&S’s Christmas £1m ‘Gifts that Give’ fund, to causes within the Neighbourly network.

The fund follows concern raised by Neighbourly’s community – which includes more than 22,000 local charities and good causes – around the disparity between supply and growing demand heading into the winter months, at a time when running costs are rising dramatically.

The fund has already received a pledge from Southern Co-op, helping push the total raised so far to around £50,000.

Neighbourly CEO Steve Butterworth said: “Despite the Energy Price Guarantee, millions of people will find themselves in fuel poverty this winter.

“As a result, families across the UK will be relying on their local community charities to help them survive through the coming months and beyond. Quite simply, these charities need backing now to help those who need it most.

“Severe fuel poverty will also impact around 7m homes this year. All donations are valuable but receiving support from large organisations really enables us to provide the necessary support to charities and good causes up and down the country.”

According to recent research within the network, 50% of charities are planning to provide warm banks, with 23% of these providing this service for the first time, while 65% have already been hit by a drop-off in financial donations.

This comes at a time when the average energy bill for a community charity is expected to rise by 119%.

Southern Co-op director of sustainability and communications Gemma Lacey said: “Our stores and funeral care teams are based in the heart of their local communities, which means they come face-to-face with the extreme challenges facing people every day.

“It is incredibly tough so it’s important that we help where we can through this cost-of-living crisis. Neighbourly’s Warm Communities Fund will allow us to target our support quickly to the hardest hit families, whilst bolstering the resources of small charities that are working tremendously hard under increasing pressure.”

Southern Co-op was also a fund partner of Neighbourly’s 2020 Community Fund which raised £1.2m through corporate donations in the early weeks of the pandemic and which was rapidly distributed via the Neighbourly Foundation as micro-grants to more than 3,000 local charities.

To make an online donation directly to the Warm Communities fund, or to pledge a larger amount as a fund partner, click here

Neighbourly was set up in 2014 to connect businesses with local vetted good causes to make a positive and measurable impact in communities by donating volunteer time, financial support and surplus products.

Now employing 80 people, it supports more than 21,000 local charities and community causes and partners with blue-chip businesses such M&S, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, RSA Insurance, B&Q, Samsung and Virgin Media 02.

In the year to this August more than 32.8m meals were redistributed via Neighbourly, worth £62.3m and weighing just under 13,800 tonnes.

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