Co-op Group launches Covid-19 fund to support communities

The fund was kick-started with a donation from CEO Steve Murrells

The Co-op Group has launched a Members’ Coronavirus Fund to support foodbanks, a funeral hardship fund and community causes.

CEO Steve Murrells is leading the way by donating 20% of his salary over a three-month period into the newly created fund. 

The Co-op’s 4.6 million members have been invited to donate their unspent existing member rewards, totalling over £30m, into the fund. Every time they buy an own-brand product or service, Co-op members receive a 5% reward, which can be redeemed on future purchases. By visiting the Co-op’s website, members can donate the funds they have accrued to the Co-op Members’ Coronavirus Fund.

Mr Murrells said: “Millions of people are suffering financial hardship at the moment and so it felt right for me to offer to take this pay cut and directly support causes which are very important to me and close to my heart.

“One per cent of what our members spend already goes to local causes and now if they wish they can donate their 5% personal rewards to help lessen the impact the emergency is having on millions of our fellow citizens.”

The fund builds on previous initiatives by the Co-op to support local communities during the outbreak. Last week it pulled its Easter TV advertising campaign, which was originally publicising its chocolate eggs, and donated the airtime, worth £2.5m, to promoting the work of food bank charity FareShare. The commercial highlights charity’s efforts to feed some of the most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis.

Members are also encouraged to support food banks by either donating in-store or via a text to a dedicated number, both of which will boost the £1.5m of food Co-op has already pledged to FareShare. 

The Group has also recently launched Co-operate, an online community centre to lessen the impact of the lockdown on people’s mental health. The platform connects vulnerable people to local and national support initiatives, as well as volunteers who are willing to run virtual events such as exercise classes, music groups, or arts and crafts classes for others. The project aims to tackle loneliness, an issue the Group has been focused on for a number of years.

Matt Atkinson, chief membership officer for the Co-op Group, added: “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.”

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