What was the project?
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest cooperatives in the UK and its businesses include food and funeral services. It formed a partnership with the Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council, a charity that helps residents on the Saffron Lane Estate in Leicester to overcome poverty, ill health or disability. The partnership was set up to produce a range of jams and chutneys that could be sold in the cooperative’s shops. Work on the project began in March 2013.
What did they do?
The neighbourhood council created the Saffron Acres Project, which turned 12 acres of disused, inner-city land in Leicester into allotments that would teach the community about sustainability and healthy lifestyles.
The cooperative provided the charity with the skills and contacts it required to bring its plum jam and apple chutney to market. Both the jam and the chutney were produced by students with learning difficulties from Leicester College.
Why did they win?
The products were sold in 52 of the cooperative’s stores in Leicestershire, branded with its locally sourced label. The cooperative also organised a press launch for the products, which helped to generate coverage for the neighbourhood council. The money raised from the product sales went back into the allotments. The cooperative is now planning to distribute 12,000 jars of the project’s next products to its stores.
What did the judges say?
Helen Wagstaff, corporate responsibility manager at British Gas, said: "It is a great project that can be transferred to other initiatives around the country."
Finalist: Scottish Power/Cancer Research UK