Waitrose Okehampton’s new community champion Jude Swift says she wants to be inundated with requests for financial assistance as the store relaunches its community fund to help local groups and charities.

Over the past 12 years the store’s Community Matters scheme has given away more than £100,000 to local good causes with customers placing a green token in a box of the cause they would like to support. This dictates how the £1,000 donation each month is split.

Whilst the green token scheme has now come to an end, the funding is still available, the only difference being that the decision on who gets what funding will be made in-house, between Jude and her colleagues.

Jude explained: ’Waitrose was the first supermarket company to set up a scheme like this all those years ago and that was one of the things that set us apart from other companies. Over the years it has been copied and now we are not the only ones doing it.

’With covid we had to get rid of the tokens so now Waitrose has decided not to bring them back. It’s shame it has gone but the funding will still be available for people, in fact we want more people to come forward as I currently don’t have many nominations at all from suitable charities or groups.

’Throughout the pandemic our focus has been on offering covid related help with donations to the foodbank, community kitchen , young carers and so on but now all the local organisations are returning to their more usual activities we want to hear from them.’

Jude said there would be a bit more flexibilty with the community funding so if someone needed a bit more money they may well be able to get it under the scheme although the total amount donated would still not exceed £1,000 a month.

’Going into the future I would like to be much more involved in projects to help the community and will be well placed to see what they need,’ she said.

Jude, who lives in Copplestone, has worked at the store for 14 years and takes over as community champion from Vickie Mills.

She said applications for money did not have to be from groups who had charitable status but any with a good community project that could do with financial assistance would be eligible.

Waitrose Okehampton has a large customer base including residents in Tavistock and Launceston, Crediton, Mortonhampstead and Hatherleigh and applications will be considered from all those areas.

’There are so many groups that need help right now, I want to be inundated with requests for funding’ she said.

To put your project forward email:communitymatters [email protected] or pop a note into the store.