With retail crime on the rise, including an alarming increase in the threat of violence and the use of weapons, a new fund is being made available by Southern Co-op with the aim of helping to reduce such offences.

The Safer Neighbourhood Fund is the latest action being taken by the regional, independent co-operative in its work to tackle crime from every angle including causes, prevention, reporting and justice.

Expressions of interest for funding will be open for an eight week window from Monday 13 January 2020.

Across the south of England, five areas have been identified as areas which it believes would benefit from community programmes tackling the causes of crime – Portsmouth, Southampton, South London, Bournemouth and Bristol.

It’s expected the funding will support local charities who are delivering innovative programmes that help residents to build a secure future and reduce offending, for example, those who may commit crime because they have a substance addiction.

Gareth Lewis, Southern Co-op’s Loss Prevention & Security Manager, said: “We commit a lot of time and money to protecting our colleagues and customers from violent offenders but the stark reality is, it’s getting worse.

“Every retailer is affected and we’ve personally seen a 69% increase in crime across our estate from 2018-2019.

“Our colleagues deserve to work in a safe environment free from harm and the fear of harm. We hope this new funding will be a step towards achieving this.”

Southern Co-op has recently invested more than £500,000 in tackling crime and already supports hundreds of local causes each year to help communities become greener, healthier, safer, and more inclusive neighbourhoods.

Its head office is currently partnered with the Hampshire-based homelessness charity, Society of St James, which helps those facing multiple disadvantages such as homelessness, poverty and/or substance misuse.

Jessica Hughes, Southern Co-op’s Community Investment Manager, said: “We’re taking a pro-active and holistic approach to reduce offending and reoffending in areas that we believe are some of the worst affected.

“There are numerous reasons why people steal from our stores and there are charities out there that already do some great work in helping those affected by issues such as drugs, homelessness, poverty and abuse. We hope this funding will give them the boost they need to make an even greater difference to people’s lives.”

The funding is available for charities operating in the following postcodes: PO1-PO6 (Portsmouth), SO14, SO15, SO16, SO30 (Southampton), BH1, BH10, BH14, BH15 (Poole/Bournemouth), BS1, BS3, BS4, BS5, BS7, BS8, BS15 (Bristol) and DA15, W13, BR7 (South London).

The Safer Neighbourhoods Fund will accept applications for charitable projects that:

  • Are from a UK registered charity or community interest company
  • Are seeking funding for work which is being delivered in Portsmouth, Southampton, South London, Bournemouth or Bristol (national charities may apply for funding to cover delivery within one or more of these areas)
  • Directly support local people affected by the key drivers of crime

Examples may include charities which tackle the underlying causes of offending behaviours, increase opportunities for employability skill development, or overcome specific, practical and personal barriers.

Southern Co-op is particularly interested in applications which:

  • Are tailored to local challenges, opportunities and needs
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to tackling crime
  • Involve past participants as mentors or peer advisers
  • Take a collaborative approach and work in partnership with other charities and statutory organisations
  • Extend the reach of the charity or pilot new approaches to supporting beneficiaries
  • Are able to leverage the value of Southern Co-op’s colleagues
  • Operate in close proximity to one or more of Southern Co-op’s retail stores

For more information or to register an interest, please visit https://www.neighbourly.com/SaferNeighbourhoods