Covid-19: Updates from the co-op movement for 9 April

Developments from the UK, Kenya and New Zealand



Midcounties Co-op, which operates nurseries across England, has announced a range of initiatives to help ensure key workers have uninterrupted access to childcare throughout the Covid-19 crisis. 

The society is calling on any local critical workers who may require childcare to get in touch.

It has also launched a new fund to help parents working for the NHS and in other critical roles pay nursery fees for the duration of the outbreak with an initial donation of £25,000.

In addition, it has paused fees for all children not currently attending its nurseries as a result of the pandemic, and is asking parents, members and communities to support this fund instead through their own contributions.

Midcounties will use all the money raised through this fund to reduce fees for critical worker parents who require childcare to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to their communities.

The society has also launched a new partnership with Bio Decon Ltd, an organisation that has already been working with Public Health England, to implement its patented cleaning system which destroys any trace of Covid-19 across its nurseries. No instances of the coronavirus have been identified at any of the sites, but Midcounties has taken the decision to invest in the technology as a precautionary measure.

Midcounties CEO Phil Ponsonby said: We’re all incredibly grateful for the work that NHS Staff and other key workers are doing during the coronavirus pandemic to save lives and keep essential services running. We know that having access to childcare is absolutely essential for many of these key workers, which is why we’ve kept open our nurseries which are close to local hospitals during this time.”

Channel Islands Co-op

Channel Islands Co-op has had to take a precautionary measure to protect colleagues and customers from infection.



The co-op sector – which has over 14 million members across 24,000 co-operatives – is responding to the pandemic. The State Department of Cooperatives created the Cooperative Coronavirus Response Committee (CCRC) to bolster government action combatting Covid-19, while also ensuring a central place for co-operatives in Kenya’s post-pandemic reconstruction.

The CCRC draws members from ten key stakeholder organisations, including the State Department of Cooperatives, Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) – which will serve as joint secretary of the Committee –National Co-operatives Housing Union (NACHU), Kenya Union of Savings & Credit co-operatives (KUSCCO), Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA), and others.

US co-op apex body NCBA CLUSA, which partners many of these organisations, has reported on these efforts. It says the CCRC promises to monitor and disseminate information on Covid-19 to members of the co-op sector and the public, as well as lobby the government to provide relief to co-ops once the pandemic is over. It also plans to repurpose facilities for quarantine use and offer financial assistance to co-operative members.

New Zealand

The Co-operative Bank of New Zealand won’t be paying customer-members’ rebates this year in response to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chair Sarah Haydon said: “This decision was made after careful consideration by the board of directors, and is consistent with the subsequent announcement by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) last week restricting banks from making distributions such as dividends or rebates.

“The RBNZ changes in relation to distributions, were made to all banks’ conditions of registration to further support the stability of the financial system during this period of economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The RBNZ restrictions took effect from 2nd April 2020 and will remain in place until further notice, with the aim of relaxing them when the economic outlook has sufficiently recovered.

“We fully support the decisions made by the RBNZ to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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