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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Meeting of the Parliament 19 January 2022

Agenda: Portfolio Question Time, Fire Alarm Standards, Local Government Funding, Education and the 2022 Examination Diet, Standards Commission for Scotland (Appointment of Member), Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Asda Foundation


Contents


Asda Foundation

I remind members of the Covid-related measures that are in place and that face coverings should be worn when moving around the chamber and the Holyrood campus.

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S6M-02621, in the name of Alexander Stewart, on the Asda Foundation and its community work. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament notes the new fund that was launched by the Asda Foundation in 2021 to help reunite communities, acknowledge the benefits of togetherness and support groups, as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease across the UK; understands that, through the Bringing Communities Back Together fund, grants of between £250 and £1,000 were available to support groups to get activities back on track, or hold get-together celebrations; is delighted that five Asda stores across the Mid Scotland and Fife region have supported 19 projects with funding totalling £15,220; understands that, in 2020, the Asda Foundation invested more than £500,000 in community projects and good causes in Scotland alone, which, it believes, have made a tangible difference to the wider community; further understands that Asda is committed to looking for good causes to support through its foundation, as well as its award-winning community programme, and applauds the Asda Foundation, and everyone involved, for what it sees as their collective, sterling work for the ultimate good of communities across Scotland and the UK as a whole.

18:29  

I am grateful for the opportunity to open the debate and I thank colleagues for their support for the motion, allowing me to secure the debate.

Coronavirus and its restrictions have dominated nearly everything in our lives for the past two years. In many cases, it has had tragic results and my thoughts and deep condolences go out to individuals who have lost loved ones and friends in its wake. Bad news has dominated nearly all forms of the press and media on a daily basis, which has, sadly, had a real effect on individuals across communities.

However, if we scratch the surface, we will expose some positives beneath that have emerged from the pandemic. It is that aspect that I wish to discuss this evening.

One shining example of positiveness that we have seen, which has rarely been talked about, is community resilience. Prior to the pandemic, we were all getting on with our normal lives, until the pandemic came and shattered them.

Some people seldom spoke to their neighbours or socialised with them at all, but when the seriousness of the Covid pandemic became apparent, that started to break down in communities. People took to helping one another, calling out to neighbours, albeit from a distance, and many local businesses started to put together support mechanisms to ensure that elderly, disabled and housebound individuals were supported. That has to be commended. Community spirit and resilience have become shining examples that have perhaps not been seen since the second world war.

Although myriad local businesses have been working on great opportunities to secure support, one corporate has shown real resilience through its charity, ensuring kinship and support during lockdowns. That charity is the Asda Foundation. It donates funds and works through its many community champions, helping to unite communities and celebrate togetherness.

The foundation provides grants to a range of good causes in Scotland and across the United Kingdom, including hundreds of new groups that were established to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. It ensures that individual projects nominated by people in their communities get support, with the idea of giving something back to the communities that have supported them.

Asda has a number of large stores in my region of Mid Scotland and Fife, in Alloa, Dalgety Bay, Dunfermline, Halbeath, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Perth and at St Leonards. The stores all have an in-store community champion, whose role is to ensure that support for the local community is at the forefront. That can involve anything from litter picking to helping schools or care homes and providing essential supplies. Their tireless support for good causes has had a massive impact on many of our communities across Mid Scotland and Fife, and I commend them and congratulate them on that.

The foundation supports that work in a number of ways. It offers grants, including the C-19 grant, which was its first response to the pandemic. The grant provided support by offering hygiene products to groups in care homes and hospitals and to the homeless.

Getting schools back on track is another grant, which helped schools that were struggling to secure items with personal protective equipment, uniform banks, stationery supplies and breakfast and after-school clubs.

Another activity is green token giving, through which customers are able to nominate and vote for the causes that they would like to support in the community. The champions nominate local causes that are outstanding in their support for individuals.

The supporting communities grant was delivered through essential items that were donated in-store. Groups could apply for food, hygiene and wellbeing products and, being community-based, they could bring communities back together.

Grants were also available to celebrate restrictions beginning to ease and communities once again being able to meet safely. The foundation took that work forward.

Many individuals in the company have done many things to provide support. Karen Owens from Asda in Dalgety Bay raised money and awareness through the tickled pink breast cancer campaign. She was marking 10 years since her own diagnosis by donating the money that she was sponsored to raise.

Barbara Inglis, who is the community champion for Asda in Dunfermline, worked with give a kid a start to donate essentials for Christmas boxes for vulnerable and isolating families across Dunfermline and the Fife area.

Michelle Stevenson, who is the community champion for Asda in Glenrothes, provided support by donating large amounts of vegetables to Leslie Community Pantry, and ensured that that happened over the Christmas period.

David Findlay from the click and collect team went the extra mile in his support. He went out of his way to ensure that individuals received support and got their shopping delivered to their homes. There are many more stories of individuals coming together to provide support.

Grants from the Asda Foundation’s bringing communities back together fund can be anything from £250 to £1,000. The foundation is very much working hand in hand with people.

Examples in Fife include the Fife Steel Basketball Club in Kirkcaldy, which received £713 for new kits for its under-14 squad. Another example is the Rimbleton primary parents partnership in Glenrothes, which received £1,000 to restart its big breakfast club—the money gave the partnership the opportunity to have something that it had not been able to have for 18 months.

Across the Mid Scotland and Fife area, Asda has secured £16,465-worth of support for 21 local projects. As well as supporting individuals, the foundation, through the new grant, has donated more than £700,000 to help bring local communities back together again.

I pay tribute to each and every group, individual and community champion, and to Asda for its outstanding work in supporting communities throughout Scotland. I commend them and congratulate them on their endeavours, foresight and community resilience. Each and every one of them has gone the extra mile to step up and stand up to support individuals and communities. That goes to show what can be achieved when we all work together under the banner of community resilience.

I wish the Asda Foundation all the best for the future.

18:37  

I thank Alexander Stewart for lodging his motion for today’s members’ business debate.

I am pleased to be able to recognise the Asda Foundation’s continued commitment to make the communities around its stores better places in which to live and work for its staff, customers and the wider community. As we have heard, the Asda Foundation has been able to give back to the communities that it serves through the bringing communities back together project, which gives grants to local groups and organisations. Those grants have helped to reunite communities, celebrate togetherness and support groups as they resume their activities in person.

In my Aberdeen Donside constituency, a few groups have benefited from funding through the project, such as Northstar 2010s and Dyce Boys Club 2006 whites, as have organisations such as North East Sensory Services, which supports individuals across my constituency as well as the wider north-east region.

Further to the bringing communities back together project, the Asda Foundation is able to give back to communities through the green token giving scheme. I am sure that anyone who shops in Asda will be familiar with that scheme. It creates a form of local democracy and empowers customers and their community to decide which small, local, grass-roots organisations they believe should get funding.

I am aware that, Scotland-wide, Asda has donated around £319,000, with Aberdeen stores benefiting from £14,400. Two stores in my constituency have donated around £1,800 each to their local communities.

Unfortunately, the in-store green token giving scheme was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic. That led to the introduction of online voting in 2021, which has enabled Asda customers and the wider public to vote for the projects that matter most to them.

In my Aberdeen Donside constituency, a number of local projects and organisations have been fortunate enough to have received funding through Asda’s green token giving scheme. The Bridge of Don and Danestone First Responder Service has put the money that it has received through the green token giving scheme to the running of its service and the installation and upkeep of vital public access defibrillators.

It is also important to note that each Asda store across Scotland has a community champion. The community champions listen to the needs of the communities around each store and work with local people to ensure that Asda provides support to those who need it most.

I have recently been made aware of some of the outstanding work that community champions Fiona Cumming, who works at Asda Dyce, and Jan Craig, who works at Asda Middleton Park, do with their respective communities, and I applaud them.

I am happy to spread the word about the fantastic work that Asda and its community champions are doing in Aberdeen Donside and throughout Scotland, and I look forward to working with them in the future to further that work.

18:40  

I thank my colleague Alexander Stewart for bringing the motion to the chamber.

During the Covid pandemic, the Asda Foundation has shown that it can positively and actively make a difference to community life across Scotland. We all have examples from our constituencies and regions of local voluntary organisations that have been supported by Asda for a number of years now. It might be helpful to provide background to demonstrate the importance of the financial and other assistance that Asda has been providing.

According to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, there are about 45,000 voluntary organisations in Scotland, the vast majority of which are community based. Those community initiatives have been hard hit by the pandemic; more than 20 per cent of charities face a critical need of funding and the harsh reality of possibly having to close down. The problem has also been exacerbated by the majority of charities having to postpone or cancel fundraising events because of lockdown restrictions. For understandable reasons, charities have also seen volunteer numbers fall during the pandemic. At the same time that all of that is happening, charities face an increasing demand for their services, as local communities need assistance with the financial, social and health impacts of the pandemic.

With that challenging background, one of the important ways that the Asda Foundation has been able to provide support is through grants to a range of good causes in Scotland, including hundreds of new community groups that have been established during the pandemic. Reflecting the community nature of that assistance, as we have heard from other colleagues, each project that Asda supports is nominated by people in the local community. It is important to emphasise that local communities have identified which organisations are in most need of support.

In my region of Mid Scotland and Fife, there is a long list of voluntary organisations and charities that are supported by the Asda Foundation’s bringing communities back together fund. The five Asda stores in the region have supported 19 projects, with funding of more than £15,000. This week, I have also been made aware that two Asda stores in Mid Scotland and Fife are making further awards to support other projects across the region, which they will very much welcome.

I will mention a few individual projects that the Asda Foundation has supported. First, the Linton Lane Centre in Kirkcaldy is one of Kirkcaldy’s longest-running community centres, with a history that dates back almost 100 years. During that time, the Linton Lane Centre has been at the heart of events in the Templehall area and beyond. The centre provides a home for a range of services, including nursery play groups, child health clinics, advice on addiction support, as well as a Monday to Friday venue for the Kirkcaldy food bank. There are also numerous recreational groups, which are based at and operate from the centre, so the additional funding that the Asda Foundation provides has been a vital and welcome boost to all those who are involved with the Linton Lane Centre.

Another example is the award that Asda in Glenrothes granted to Arden House, a voluntary organisation that was established in 1982 and provides a range of services, including day centres for older people living independently in the community who, due to complex health reasons, are at risk of social isolation, which has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Many other examples have been highlighted—and will be highlighted, I am sure—by colleagues, so I will conclude by again thanking Asda Foundation for its continuing hard work for the benefit of communities and support of many valuable local organisations across Mid Scotland and Fife, across Scotland and across the UK.

18:45  

I thank Alexander Stewart for securing the debate. I have always been impressed by the work of the Asda Foundation and the very real difference that its support makes to small, local organisations. As we all know, many new groups have been established to help people deal with the challenges that are being faced as a result of the pandemic. The extended work of the foundation will have a significant positive impact on many local communities, in a variety of ways.

The foundation’s development of the two new Covid-19 grants and its new £200,000 partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service to help tackle loneliness and isolation are great news for our communities. The healthy holiday grants, which allow the continuation of groups that would typically be holding summer holiday activities and providing a healthy and nutritious meal to children, and the hygiene grant, which is aimed at patients and residents of hospices and care homes, will provide invaluable support to some of the most vulnerable in our communities and those who are most affected by the pandemic.

Those grants are a very welcome addition to the long-established green token giving scheme, the transforming communities and improving lives grants, the emergency fund and the slightly newer bringing communities back together fund, which was launched to help reunite communities, to celebrate togetherness and to support groups as we continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of last year, I was delighted to learn that local causes in my constituency, including the Linton Lane Centre and the Gallatown gala and community group, had benefited from just over £3,000 of funding. In these challenging times, that money will be of great help to those groups.

We have heard from our colleagues about some of the numbers involved, such as the £1 million that is invested in more than 4,000 local good causes every year. I will not repeat what has already been said, but I will touch on what I feel is of great importance: the fact that each project that is supported by the foundation is nominated by local people and communities. It is thanks to the engagement, input and feedback of those communities that that investment reaches the grassroots groups and organisations that need it most.

Groups in my constituency, including Kirkcaldy Rugby Football Club’s wee blues, Fife Migrants Forum, Fife Steel Basketball Club, the Linton Lane Centre, Kirkcaldy Foodbank, the Pathhead pensioners group and Nourish Support Centre, are among those to have benefited from the foundation, to great advantage. All are significant community groups and resources that make a big impact on local communities, and they are recognised as such by local people.

Although community engagement is important, and will continue to be so, no debate about the work of the foundation would be complete without acknowledging the vital link that is made by Asda’s community champions. In Kirkcaldy, our champion is Jean Ritchie. Since I was first elected in 2011, I have had the opportunity to work closely with her and with Asda’s Kirkcaldy store. It is always a pleasure to attend and participate in its many fundraising and community events.

Before the pandemic, thanks to Jean and her infectious enthusiasm, it was not unusual to see me in my local Asda store, sporting an elf suit, a pink tutu, or some other novelty costume, singing along with a choir, or being heckled by a group of schoolchildren. Given that Easter is fast approaching, I am sure that, if it is allowed, she will already have the bunny ears lined up and ready to go.

As I am sure is the case with many other community champions across Scotland, I frequently see Asda’s Kirkcaldy champion out and about in the community. Whether it be litter picking or helping the local food bank or local schools, it is important that the work of those champions is also celebrated, and I give my personal thanks to each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication. They are an integral link between the corporate foundation and the small grassroots organisations across all our constituencies.

In conclusion, I commend Asda’s commitment to making communities around its stores better places in which to live and work, for colleagues and customers, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with it in the years to come, as it helps to transform communities and improve lives throughout Scotland.

18:49  

I congratulate Alexander Stewart on securing the debate and thank him for the opportunity to speak about Asda’s bringing communities back together fund and the broader work of the Asda Foundation in supporting communities.

Like the other big supermarkets, Asda is a significant company and a familiar aspect of modern life for many of us. Recently, we have talked about supermarkets when considering the retail sector and supply chains. My committee—the Economy and Fair Work Committee—has been taking evidence on supply chains, and I recognise the challenges with shortages that many retailers have experienced.

Although large supermarkets provided a vital service during lockdown and over the pandemic, we cannot deny that their profits benefited from that experience. However, supermarkets such as Asda can demonstrate corporate social responsibility in a number of ways, such as taking steps to address food poverty, promoting healthy diets, improving food labelling and supporting the communities in which they are situated.

The prominence of large retailers gives them a huge role in our communities and in family life. It is welcome when they take steps to invest in the areas that provide them with a loyal customer base and income. Many people rely on large supermarkets for financial or geographic regions. For some people, the convenience of being able to purchase everything in one place is critical.

It is welcome that Asda builds relationships with the communities in which it is based and works with local people and projects where possible. Over the years, it has run a number of schemes to support local communities. Those include its community life programme and the hard work of the local community champions, which Alexander Stewart highlighted. Those people reflect community spirit. Like David Torrance, I recognise the long-standing commitment of Jean Ritchie from the Asda in Kirkcaldy.

Throughout the pandemic, the Asda Foundation has awarded more than £700,000 across Scotland, including more than £72,000 in Mid Scotland and Fife. Through its green token giving awards and grants scheme, 174 local groups have benefited. I know how much that is valued.

A key part of that support was the bringing communities back together grant, which was introduced as lockdown restrictions eased to provide community groups with funding for celebratory events and items that they needed to get back on track. The five Asda stores across the Mid Scotland and Fife region have supported 19 local projects with funding of more than £15,000. Among the groups to benefit from the fund are Fife Steel Basketball Club in Kirkcaldy, which was granted funding for new kits, and Rimbleton primary school in Glenrothes, which used the grant to restart its big breakfast club.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to recognise and welcome the work of the schemes, the hard work of the people involved and the support that Asda has provided to communities as we emerge from the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, we saw the strength of our communities in supporting people in need, from the setting up of soup kitchens in people’s homes to deliver food to the vulnerable, isolated and elderly to the creation of buggy walk groups to help new parents and others. I am grateful to individuals, organisations and businesses across my region that have come together to establish ways to help with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery.

Too often, the community grants respond to an absence of provision elsewhere. The increase in food bank donations during the pandemic was praised but the fact that so many people had to rely on those services reflects a broader failure. Far too many people have been left struggling over the past two years as the impacts of the pandemic have pushed many who were already struggling further into difficulty.

Although businesses such as Asda have a role to play by giving something back and supporting local community activity, the levels of funding involved are limited. I am sure that they are meant to be about topping up and offering additional support, but they can too often be seen to be plugging gaps. That is not the role of supermarkets. We need to ensure that our voluntary sector is properly supported and that every effort is made to increase the incomes of low-paid people and those on benefits. If that were done, we could really see the strength of schemes such as Asda’s in providing the additional community support, events and activities that have been valued across Mid Scotland and Fife.

18:53  

It is great to speak in members’ business today, especially given the uplifting and positive nature of the motion.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, everyone has struggled, whether financially, emotionally or physically. In those moments of darkness, community leaders have risen to the occasion. Therefore, I am delighted to support the motion in the name of my colleague Alexander Stewart, which acknowledges the commitment of the Asda Foundation and the tangible differences that it has made to the wider community. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget that businesses are not just about generating profits or creating jobs but about building communities and enhancing lives.

As Alexander Stewart mentioned, the Asda Foundation, other businesses and organisations and individuals have been coming together and supporting local communities throughout lockdown and as lockdown restrictions have begun to ease.

In my region, the Asda Foundation has supported schoolchildren during the lockdown and as they return to school. Grants of £500 enabled healthy packed lunches to be delivered during the lockdown; 90 laptop bundles were given to nine schools in my region; grants supported families with return-to-school items; and breakfast and after-school clubs were supported. Through the hygiene fund, the foundation donated 250,000 medical-grade face masks to struggling care homes and additional grants for the purchase of personal hygiene items for care home residents and staff. It awarded funding of around £31,000 to 39 projects across the west of Scotland, helping to get local activities restarted.

In addition to funding initiatives, the green token giving programme has encouraged local residents to get involved in supporting local causes, 24 of which have received funding from the programme, including Clydebank Women’s Aid and Milngavie Old Peoples Welfare Committee.

I am sure that we have all heard stories of individuals and organisations in our local areas helping out in numerous ways during the pandemic—help has been given to elderly and vulnerable residents to get their shopping, pick up their prescriptions or walk their dogs. Asda is one of many organisations that have been providing hands-on help in difficult times.

We often forget about the ripple effect that thriving businesses can have on communities. The stories that have been told here today remind us not only of the importance of businesses giving back to the community but of the importance of local businesses to residents. I thank the Asda Foundation, as well as other organisations and individuals across Scotland who have contributed to community work, whether that be through monetary means or by simply helping out. I hope that, in the future, we all appreciate our local businesses and return the favour by supporting them as they make a recovery from the pandemic.

18:57  

I congratulate Alexander Stewart on securing this excellent debate. It has been an absolute pleasure to hear from members in the chamber and virtually about the outstanding work that the Asda Foundation has been doing in their constituencies and regions.

Before I turn to the substantive part of my response to the motion, I am sure that, having heard David Torrance’s speech about his endeavours to support the foundation, all members will want to join me in asking about him wearing novelty costumes and a pink tutu. A few years ago, he had his long locks shaved off in Parliament to raise money, so will we see the pink tutu in Parliament? I think that that question is on everyone’s lips.

In all seriousness, it has been inspiring to hear about the work of community champions and the community groups that the foundation supports. It has also been inspiring because, as members have noted, notwithstanding the huge challenges that our communities have collectively faced during the pandemic, a huge amount of learning has taken place. Alexander Stewart referred to there being perhaps the greatest sense of community spirit since the years of the second world war—that is not overstating it.

When we face the huge challenges of recovery and addressing inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, which Claire Baker touched on, partnership working and community spirit will be essential. Although there are forums for partnership working through our community planning partnerships and third sector interfaces and the work that we do locally as MSPs, great work is done by the private sector. Pam Gosal spoke about the ripple effect that businesses can create, and I join her in encouraging our constituents and members of the public across Scotland to repay the support that so many local businesses provided throughout the pandemic.

I recognise the incredible work that the Asda Foundation has done and I thank it for its efforts to reunite communities. I understand that it is committed to making the communities around its stores better places to live and work, and it partners with thousands of charities, community groups and local good causes to support projects that make communities a better place to live.

The foundation’s mission is to transform communities and improve lives throughout the UK, complementing the ambition of Asda Stores to be at the heart of local communities. I understand that each project that the foundation supports is nominated by the people and communities whom they serve and that, for the foundation, sharing its passion is the ideal way to give something back to the local communities that support it.

Over the course of the pandemic to date, the foundation has supported more than 1,700 groups, with awards totalling more than £750,000. As members have noted, the foundation ran the healthy holiday fund, which provided grants of £500 to local groups to make and deliver healthy packed lunches during lockdown to the children who normally receive free school meals; invested £2 million to provide 7,000 laptops and tech packages to schools across the UK to help those children who were at risk of falling behind because they did not have the technology to take part in online lessons during lockdown; and donated 250,000 medical-grade face masks to care homes that were struggling to access them at the height of the pandemic. Those are just some of the examples of the fantastic work that the foundation has done for communities, and I give it my sincere thanks and applaud its sterling efforts.

I also take the opportunity to thank other independent funders for their on-going support and efforts in supporting the third sector and their communities. The pandemic has proved beyond doubt that the organisations, networks and people who make up the third sector are critical to the health and wellbeing of our people, places and communities. During this incredibly difficult time, places have remained communities, where people feel safe and valued, are included and have connections due to the tireless efforts of those organisations, networks and people.

Despite health restrictions and significant increases in demand for services, the work of the third sector has been key in the resilience of our communities throughout the pandemic. The Scottish Government wants to recognise that and work to create the best conditions for the third sector to thrive and contribute to Scotland’s recovery.

I also thank the partners who worked with us at pace to develop the wellbeing fund in 2020, including the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Hunter Foundation, the Corra Foundation and Inspiring Scotland. The £50 million wellbeing fund was part of a £350 million package of emergency funding to support people most affected by the pandemic. The funding was distributed across Scotland through a mix of grants to local charities, third sector interfaces and national priorities, as well as open applications worth more than £21 million.

In addition, and in recognition of the important role that small, grass-roots community groups play in supporting adult mental health and wellbeing, the Scottish Government’s £15 million communities mental health and wellbeing fund for adults was announced on 15 October 2021. This is the first year of a two-year fund to support mental health and wellbeing in communities across Scotland, which aims to build on the excellent examples of good practice and innovation that we have seen emerge throughout the pandemic.

The fund will focus on suicide prevention, social isolation and loneliness, and prevention and early intervention, as well as addressing the mental health inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the needs of a range of at-risk groups. The fund will support small, grass-roots community groups and organisations to deliver such activities, thus providing opportunities for people to connect and revitalise their communities. It will be delivered through a locally focused and co-ordinated approach via local partnership groups, working together to ensure that support to community-based organisations is directed appropriately and in a coherent way.

The Scottish Government has a clear vision for community-led regeneration, too, supported by our place-based investment and our empowering communities programmes, which enable our communities to use their distinct local knowledge, expertise and commitment to respond and adapt to big challenges in their own way, helping them to shape their own futures. The investment is supporting them to develop community assets, thereby enabling them to generate their own income and in turn support the creation of new jobs and access to services that benefit the people in their communities. More than 340 community organisations and community-led projects are being supported in 2021-22, with investment totalling nearly £13 million.

Continued support for the programme forms a key commitment in our Covid recovery strategy, which recognises the action taken by communities in response to the pandemic as a key part of the resilience of our communities.

At the start of December, I had the pleasure of speaking to a debate on loving local, in which I spoke of the important role that our local shops and businesses have in our communities. This financial year, we launched our £10 million-pound multiyear Scotland Loves Local programme, which aims to encourage people to think and choose local. The programme is designed to support recovery from Covid for our communities and local businesses, and embed the loves local culture that we started to witness during the pandemic. It encourages a safe return to our town and city centres, while taking care to follow guidelines to look after one other.

Our shared experience during the pandemic has demonstrated the potential of local communities and businesses to work together. Working collaboratively and in partnership is vitally important, because we cannot achieve our ambitions without working with and for our communities, without participation and engagement, and without harnessing our collective resources for local impact. That is what a place-based approach is about—working together to tackle the challenges and support our communities to thrive.

I will finish by once again thanking the Asda Foundation. It reflects the principles of a place-based approach and is a shining example of supporting local communities and making a difference to the lives of local people. I understand that it has numerous other grants planned for 2022, which will continue the fantastic work that it has done so far and its positive impact on the local communities.

I thank Alexander Stewart and members across the chamber for their contributions this evening, which recognise the excellent work of the Asda Foundation and our community champions.

Meeting closed at 19:06.