SHOPPERS in the Woking area managed to raise thousands of pounds last year through Co-op supermarket branches to help a number of local good causes.

The Co-op’s Local Community Fund is giving donations to Woking & Sam Beare Hospice, Jigsaw, Woking and District Men’s Sheds, Addlestone Community Centre, and Woking Mind, which are among the causes it has supported for the past 12 months.

“Usually at this time of year, Co-op store managers and funeral care leads would welcome representatives from the causes they’ve supported and present huge cheques,” said Sarah Nuttall, the Co-op’s member pioneer coordinator for Woking and Guildford.

“COVID has meant that this just isn’t possible this year, so we have celebrated using social media, and some of the causes have recorded video messages for us to share with our members.”

Sarah manages a team of member pioneers, who work in their communities to connect between the Co-op and local causes and residents. She said that although they have only been in place for a few months, they have made huge steps to help.

“We’re the only supermarket that does this – where their sole role is to do good and make our world a better place,” added Sarah.

In Woking alone, the Co-op has three main communities – Horsell, Knaphill and Woking – which raised £18,225.20 and runs alongside nearby Byfleet, Addlestone and New Haw, and Ripley and Pyrford which raised £17,998.80. Each community supports up to three local good causes selected by members within a 15-mile radius of where they live through their membership account or the Co-op app.

The fund was launched in September 2016 and so far has given away more than £40 million to local causes across the UK and Isle of Man. Every time a Co-op customer-member spend money on selected own-branded products and services, 1% of their spend is added to the fund for community projects where they live. Money is also raised from shopping bag sales.

The Co-op has also been supporting Mind as its National Charity partner and has raised £2.7million so far this year to fund new schemes to help community mental health, said Sarah.