The East of England Co-op is supporting causes tackling the cost-of-living crisis as the region heads towards a tough winter for many.

The chain has poured £39k into supporting 11 organisations in Suffolk with grants ranging from £2,500 and £5,000 through its Community Cares Fund. These are expected to benefit more than 1,000 local people directly.

It set up the fund in April 2020 and to date has supported local communities across the region with donations of more than £591k through it. There are two funding rounds annually and it is due to open applications for the next round of funding on September 19.

The fund supports causes around community action, food justice, and mental health and wellbeing. Grants awarded for mental health and wellbeing accounted for 76% of the total fund awarded in the latest round - a sharp rise from the average of 54%.

The chain's senior community manager Helen Raven said: “With this round of funding we have been able to respond to the profound need of those affected by the cost-of-living crisis. As we head into the more difficult winter months ahead, the mental health fallout from the financial difficulties many are expected to experience will be sharp.

"Many of the grants awarded will go directly to supporting vulnerable local people during this difficult time.”

Among the beneficiaries in the latest round were Disability Advice North East Suffolk (DANES) - a charity run by disabled people for disabled people and their carers living in Lowestoft, Waveney, North East Suffolk and the surrounding area.

It provides advice and support to people with disabilities or long-term health conditions to enable them to "lead active and fulfilling lives, maintain independence and improve mental wellbeing". A fund grant of £5,000 will support its Warm and Well in Waveney project.

Trish Riches, manager at DANES, said: “Disabled people are likely to be disproportionately affected by the rising costs of living.

"They may be on a lower income, not have the ability to manage their finances or even require the additional use of gas and electricity for specialist equipment. Through this project we can help 25 people on an individual basis improve their wellbeing by reducing levels of anxiety about their finances.

“We are so grateful for the funding from the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund. This will enable us to support people, whose mental health is being adversely affected by the cost-of-living crisis.”

Funding for the Community Cares Fund is supplemented by East of England Co-op members who contribute to the fund. The East of England Co-op works with the Suffolk Community Foundation to distribute and deliver it.

To apply for funding visit