The Co-op is widening the support it gives to community groups to enable them keep the heating on.

Co-op will give £500 to any community project currently fundraising under its ‘warm spaces scheme’. Any new group that applies to join the scheme will also be given £500 as a kickstarter, Co-op said.

Co-op first launched its £1m ‘warm spaces’ fund in December, to counter the impact of rising energy costs on local services and community groups.

Under the scheme, which is in partnership with funding platform Crowdfunder, eligible projects can apply for match funding from the retailer. An example could be a village café that needs more money in order to continue offering its building as a warm space during the cost of living crisis.

The one-off payments would contribute towards community groups’ fundraising targets, Co-op said. It is also extending the amount that groups can apply to be matched to £5,000, up from £3,000.

“Funding for warm spaces forms part of our response to our community missions of access to food, mental wellbeing support and opportunities for young people,” said Rebecca Birkbeck, Co-op director of community and member participation. “Launching this funding boost will help groups keep their lights and heating on as they bring communities together to keep warm in the coldest months of the year – increasing overall wellbeing.” 

The retailer found that 29% of community projects were considering cutting services due to a shortfall in funding, according to a survey of 3,200 participants in the group’s Local Community Fund.

Co-op paid £240,000 to 300 community groups in the first six weeks following the launch of the warm spaces fund. Projects have until 28 February to apply.