Meet some of the people behind the social impact of co-operatives

For our Community Impact Index of 2017, we ask representatives of Southern Co-op, Midcounties and Central England about their work

Our experts

Gemma Lacey, director sustainability & communications, Southern Co-op; Mike Pickering, community and sustainability manager, Midcounties; Hannah Gallimore, corporate responsibility manager, Central England.

Our proudest achievement …

Mike Pickering: Our colleagues and members having been working together all year, delivering an outstanding 36,000 volunteering hours, which have helped to build sustainable partnerships with community groups and identify locaxl opportunities. This ongoing activity across the regions enabled the society to achieve 5 stars in BITC’s CR Index for the second year in succession, with a score of 100%. This has been a highlight for us, and it acknowledges the hard work and achievements from all colleagues.

Hannah Gallimore: We have seen several instances where the multiple strands of our community involvement have come together to make a combined impact.  We are especially proud of our commitment to supporting our communities and colleagues by signing the Time to Change mental health awareness pledge which aims to end mental health discrimination. This year has also seen the continued roll out of our defibrillator programme, which has involved fitting the vital lifesaving equipment to all our stores and homes where there is a need. We have also looked to help people further afield who need our support, resulting in some of our used vehicles such as lorries being shipped across the globe to be used by charities providing vital support. The combined impact of our MCCs, colleagues and grants has made a real difference to those school communities.

Gemma Lacey: The launch of our Love Your Neighbourhood community programme has been an important milestone for us and has helped to empower all our colleagues to engage more with their local communities, putting ownership of this programme and supporting budgets firmly in their hands. It is all about local action, helping to create greener, safer, healthier, more inclusive neighbourhoods, so we are proud that our support has helped hundreds of charities and community groups across our region to tackle the issues that matter most to the communities around our stores, funeral homes and other sites.

How we demonstrate the co-op difference …

Gemma Lacey: Our Southern Co-op brand values set out what we believe in, which we feel captures the essence of our society’s difference and the value of a co-operative approach to business: Being fair to our members, customers, colleagues, suppliers and the community partners we work with. Championing a fresh approach to business, putting purpose before profit. Making it easy for all to join us and share in our success.

Mike Pickering: Working with members to make a positive difference to issues that really matter to the local community, not just in the short term, but creating long term sustainable communities. Each region has a steering group made up of colleagues and members who set the local strategy. To identify the community focus areas, we surveyed 10,000 members to establish the issues that matter most to those who work, live and learn in the local community.  Each community also has a local charity partner that they work with to help build strong communities. Through this we are able to help the charities and community groups which provide vital support for the more vulnerable members of the community.

Hannah Gallimore: In June, we were the headline sponsor of Kids Country’s Food and Farming Day at the East of England Showground in Peterborough. The event enabled us to demonstrate our co-operative difference and unique community approach. We were able to use our existing educational content and deliver the co-operative message to a new, young audience.

Click here to view the full Community Impact Index for 2017

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