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Laying the Foundations for an exciting 2022

26 January 2022

By Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO

Colleagues at the Co-op Foundation are passionate about putting co-operative values at the heart of everything we do.  

I’ve seen this first-hand over the past year as we’ve pledged a series of commitments that have empowered our partners to build fairer communities. As we’ve given young people the power to develop meaningful campaigns and become leaders. And as we’ve worked in equitable partnership with Trustees, partners and the Co-op to develop an exciting new strategy. 

Today, I share the product of this work courtesy of our wonderful 2021 digital Impact Report. Created hand-in-hand with our partners, this report spotlights the incredible things they’ve achieved in a challenging year that has continued to redefine ‘normal’ life for the communities we love. 

Thank you to all our partners for your impact, your resilience and your co-operation. Thank you to my Foundation colleagues and Trustees for your passion and commitment. And thank you to the Co-op and Co-op Members for your continued support.  

Visit our digital Impact Report and, if you’re inspired to help us, you can support our future work by donating online

Building foundations 

2021 was a year of exciting transition for the Co-op Foundation. I joined on 4 January and held my first meeting with colleagues over video call from my home in Liverpool. It took another five months before we could meet in person. In this time, we’d achieved a lot 

We’d began to rebuild our team, more than doubling our numbers of funding and communications colleagues while also strengthening our Board. Three new trustees are now in place, including new Nisa CEO, Michael Fletcher, and two awe-inspiring young trustees, Hope Levy-Shepherd, aged 27, and George Imafidon, 24.  

We’d also rebuilt our internal culture, developing a more positive, empowering and co-operative environment. We’ve promised to carry this commitment through to our partners, too, by signing up to a series of pledges to be a better funder. Read more from my colleague, Louise.

Funding 

None of these developments happened in a vacuum. We’ve also continued to award grants and run campaigns in 2021 that delivered on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a fairer world’. 

We awarded £2.2m in grants over the year spread across the UK. £366k of this went to our community spaces partners who used funding to help them bounce back financially from Covid while £250k went to Refugee Action to help them support refugees fleeing the Taliban’s return to Afghanistan. 

We also helped to develop a new generation of volunteers and leaders by engaging more young people in our Lonely Not Alone campaign and supporting 55 #iwill Fund partners to run youth social action projects

Finally, we put learning at the forefront of our minds with formal evaluations of two of our most successful multi-million pound funds. Read what we learned about delivering youth work in Covid, in this blog by Deanne

A bright future 

I cannot thank my colleagues, partners, Co-op leaders and Co-op Members enough for everything you’ve done to support us in 2021. But I can also promise that this impact is just the start. 

For the past six months, we’ve been busying ourselves by developing a new Foundation strategy. The purpose of this is to build on our success of recent years and carve a space in the funding and co-operative worlds for a new type of Co-op Foundation. We want to be exciting. We want to be pioneering. And we want to work equitably with others. 

Every step of our process so far has been a success because we’ve done it co-operatively. Foundation colleagues, Trustees, partners and the Co-op have worked together equitably to collaborate on what our future should hold. That is something incredibly special. 

Work on this strategy is now almost complete. I’ll be blogging about next steps over the coming months. I hope you will check in and keep an eye out for updates on our social media. 

Keep reading 

This blog was written as part of our 2021 digital Impact Report. Read more stories from this report, sign up to our blog to find out first about future funding or donate here to help us continue to build fairer and more co-operative communities. 


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