Southern Co-op stores raise money for children’s A&E ward

The society has also teamed up with the Wheatsheaf Trust to help people facing employment barriers

Southern Co-op food stores in Southampton have joined forces to raise over £6,800 towards a new emergency trauma ward for children at the accident and emergency department of University Hospital Southampton.

All 13 Southern Co-op stores in Southampton came together following a suggestion by City Gateway store manager Dean Millar that the charity should receive money from the society’s Love Your Neighbourhood, as well as from charity boxes in store.

He said: “Both I and my three children have relied on the University Hospital and when we heard about the appeal to help set up a new children’s emergency trauma ward I thought it was time to take action. I spoke to some colleagues at our neighbouring stores and they really wanted to get involved too.

“Now our colleagues at Commercial Road have selected the charity as their Love Your Neighbourhood partner for the next 12 months and the fundraising efforts have really snowballed.

“We all have lots more planned for the year ahead including a sponsored cycle in May as well as a 10k run that I am taking part in on 22 April. It’s a great feeling to be able to help like this.”

Love Your Neighbourhood’ is Southern Co-op’s community engagement programme, which addresses four key social themes, as identified by a survey of over 4,000 members and colleagues: Greener Neighbourhoods, Healthier Neighbourhoods, Safer Neighbourhoods, and More Inclusive Neighbourhoods.

Charities and community groups can apply for cash donations or goods in kind through the scheme, which is funded by the 5p single-use carrier bag levy.

Meanwhile, the Southern Co-op store on West Street in Ryde, the Isle of Wight, has partnered with Solent charity Wheatsheaf Trust in a new project to help unemployed people into work.

The store has recruited eight new colleagues in the last six months, with more expected throughout the year.

Bridge2Work, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the National Lottery, offers participants paid work, building their confidence and resilience in the labour market.

Store manager Mark (centre) welcomes new colleagues Jackie and Karl

Store manager Mark said: “After a similar partnership we ran last year with the Shaw Trust, we looked to extend our work experience programme with another charity. We were lucky enough to link up with Wheatsheaf Trust and, with their support, help clients back into a working environment.

“Over the last six months, we have employed eight clients from Wheatsheaf Trust on temporary contracts, so that they have experience to put on their CVs. Two of those have even become permanent store colleagues. We have also helped other clients gain an understanding about the work we do in store and get some experience to help them get jobs elsewhere.”

The project aims to support people across the Solent area facing barriers to work, including disability, mental ill health, homelessness, long term unemployment and isolation.  It is delivered by Wheatsheaf Trust in partnership with Portsmouth Craft and Manufacturing Industries (PCMI) and Solent Mind.

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