Co-op: securing funding and keeping communities connected

COVID-19: Our members taking responsible business action

Our colleagues are local heroes who have rolled up their sleeves and are working tirelessly to feed the nation. I am so proud and grateful of how hard our colleagues are working to serve communities during such difficult circumstances by keeping the stores fully stocked.

Jo Whitfield, Food CEO, Co-op

Business in the Community (BITC) member Co-op has developed a wide-ranging package of support for communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These complement the fantastic efforts of its frontline colleagues in making sure that its members and customers, including the most vulnerable, can access food in the communities it serves.

Securing funding

Access to financial support during the crisis will be vital to enable charities to continue the great work they do in communities.

Co-op has set up a members’ coronavirus fund, which will allow its 4.6 million members to donate some or all of their 5% member reward balance – currently standing at more than £30m. The money will help food banks through FareShare, support bereaved families who need extra help in affording a funeral and other community causes. Co-op Chief Executive Officer Steve Murrells made the first donation, by contributing 20% of his salary over three months. If you are a Co-op member, you can donate your reward here.

Matt Atkinson, Chief Membership Officer for The Co-op said:

“I know that many of our members want to support others at this very difficult time and our new fund makes it as simple as possible for them to contribute in their own way. The collective effort of our members could have a massive impact for thousands of lives in the weeks and months ahead.”

Co-op also paid out additional funding through its local community fund at the beginning of April, sharing a total of £4.5m to more than 4,500 causes. When Co-op members purchase selected own-branded products and services, 1% goes to support community causes across the UK. If you are a Co-op member, you can select your community cause to support. Since 2016, more than £60m has been raised by members for more than 21,000 causes.

Supporting foodbanks

Co-op has also announced it will be donating £1.5m worth of food to FareShare, the UK’s largest hunger fighting charity. Food banks have seen a significant drop in donations as COVID-19 has taken hold, but they remain a lifeline for those who rely on the donations to feed their families and are seeing increased demand. FareShare supports more than 11,000 charities and community groups, including food banks. £1.5m of essential food products from Co-op will be split among FareShare’s 23 regional centres, and then supplied to a network of community groups across the country.

Combating school hunger

Co-op recently also introduced measures to combat holiday hunger in pupils caused by unplanned school closures; 6,500 students across 25 Co-op Academy Schools who have free school meals will be given a £20 voucher for every week that schools remain shut.

Supporting the National Emergency Trust Appeal

The Co-op has announced that it will support the National Emergency Trust Appeal (NET) raising funds for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

All money donated will allow NET to work with grassroot organisations and charities to provide support to those affected within communities across the UK.

Keeping connected and finding volunteers

We may be apart but that does not mean we cannot help each-other. Co-op has built an online community platform, Co-operate. The platform connects people to local and national organisations to give or get support, plus a place to put online classes and activities too. More than 700 Co-op member pioneers are supporting their communities every way they can, through Covid-19 Mutual Aid groups, promoting volunteering and supporting vulnerable people.

The Co-op Health app is connecting people across England by linking them securely to their GP so they can automatically view and order the medications they need, from their mobile phone. Home delivery is at no extra cost to them or the NHS. The app is available to download.

Local Heroes

Co-op has invested more than £3m on new protective equipment, from clear safety screens to gloves and hand sanitiser to support frontline colleagues, who are feeding the nation during the coronavirus crisis.

Jo Whitfield, Food Chief Executive Officer, Co-op, said: “Our colleagues are local heroes who have rolled up their sleeves and are working tirelessly to feed the nation. I am so proud and grateful of how hard our colleagues are working to serve communities during such difficult circumstances by keeping the stores fully stocked. They are working incredibly hard and doing their absolute best to serve the nation it’s only right that we look after them by providing as much safety kit as we can.”

WHAT IF ALL BUSINESSES CAME TOGETHER TO ADDRESS THE ESCALATING SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19?