The Midcounties Co-operative will be working with colleagues and members across 20 regional areas to help address issues affecting their communities.
As part of its Regional Communities programme, the co-op will be involved in volunteering, fundraising and distributing grants from its Community Fund and carrier bag levy.
Each Regional Community has a dedicated steering group made up of the society’s members, colleagues and board members who meet regularly to identify ways to provide a long-lasting positive impact in the area.
In Shrewsbury, the society will be working with Shrewsbury Street Pastors, who patrol the town centre in the evening, offering support to people who have become vulnerable and distressed as a result of drink or drugs, or from difficult personal circumstances. The co-op will contribute to this cause through fundraising and volunteering.
In addition, Midcounties will support Shropshire Young Carers, who are typically aged five-18 years old and provide full or part-time care to family members.
Alison Holmes, Midcounties’ leadership team ambassador in Shrewsbury, said: “Our work in the communities where we operate is about building a legacy to improve the lives of residents, and we’re confident that we can make a real difference to people in Shrewsbury and local community groups by focusing our support to young carers and street pastors to allow them to continue their vital work.”
The co-op has 11,296 members in Shrewsbury and operates food stores, post offices and travel branches.
In Gloucestershire, Regional Communities programmes are being carried out in Cheltenham, Stroud and Forest of Dean.
Cheltenham is committing to help tackle anti-social behaviour and promote social inclusion in the area working with local charity, the Aston Project.
Stroud and the Forest of Dean will be supporting young carers, after recently announcing Gloucestershire Young Carers as its charity partner for the next two years. Forest of Dean will focus on helping cohesive communities that promote diversity and belonging for all residents, and Stroud will help residents tackle loneliness.
Phil Truman, ae leadership team ambassador for Midcounties in Gloucestershire, said: “The causes we’ve chosen to support were all identified by our local members, colleagues and board members as being extremely important to our community, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with local charities and community groups to help tackle these causes.”
In Wyre Forest, members and colleagues chose loneliness as their priority, and the society will work with the Tulip Tree Centre in Kidderminster and the Elizabeth Mills Centre in Stourport as they host tea parties and bingo sessions for elderly residents.
In collaboration with the Kidderminster arm of young persons’ homeless charity, St Basils, Midcounties is working to enable young people to transition from sheltered accommodation, and provide access to education, training or employment to help them thrive and feel less alone.
Bob Richens, leadership team ambassador for Midcounties Wyre Forest, said: “Loneliness can have a big impact on residents and families – in fact, more than two fifths of people surveyed by the Mental Health Foundation said they have felt depressed because they felt alone.”
In Black Country, Midcounties has pledged to tackle nine causes and issues that have an impact on the people, including loneliness and obesity.
Colleagues and members from Walsall and Cannock Chase will be promoting health and fitness to residents in the area, while colleagues in Sedgley raised more than £2,000 for new charity partner Beacon Centre for the Blind and got 169 young people involved in a dragon boat race at Himley Hall.
In Wolwerhampton, colleagues are being trained to be ‘dementia friendly’, and work closely with the Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness of how people can support those living with the condition.
Midcounties has also pledged to tackle eight causes and issues that have an impact on the people of Oxfordshire, including loneliness and supporting mental health.
The co-op will work to support these causes by teaming up with local charities to provide work experience placements and employment for those who are homeless, living in poverty or have mental health problems.
In Central Oxford and White Horse, Midcounties colleagues will host regular food bank drives across its sites to support families living in poverty.
In Kidlington the society’s team has committed to help developing their skills and offer support for those living with young-onset dementia.
Members and colleagues in Chipping Norton will focus on working with children and young adults, alongside tackling anti-social behaviour.
And in the Bicester and Banbury areas, the Midcounties Co-operative will dedicate its fundraising and volunteering efforts to support residents who are affected by loneliness or mental health problems.
With a turnover of £1.35bbn, Midcounties has so far raised £133,000 for its charity partners as part of the Regional Communities strategy. It has distributed over £390,000 to more than 500 local community groups and charities through grants and carrier bag money, donated 70,000 products to local food banks and engaged more than 9,000 young people through 50 school partnerships.