East of England Co-op launches new community fund in fight against Covid-19

'The coronavirus outbreak is the most significant challenge that we’ve faced for a generation'

East of England Co-op is announcing a new Community Cares Fund, worth up to £2.1m, to be shared with groups and services in-need across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

Each year, the society pays a share of its profits to its members in the form of a dividend. The total dividend to be shared amongst 140,000 eligible members this year is £2.1m – over 40% of East of England’s profits available for distribution for the last financial year.  

With this year’s dividend, East of England is encouraging its members to donate some or all of their dividend to the newly created East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund. 

The society is working with a number of local partners, who have the established networks and knowledge, to disseminate the funding generated to those most in need.

To kick-start the fund, the society has today pledged to donate over £150,000. This follows a £75,000 donation made earlier this month, bringing the total directly donated by the retailer to over £230,000.  

Niall O’Keeffe, joint CEO of East of England, said: “The coronavirus outbreak is the most significant challenge that we’ve faced for a generation. 

“Our co-op was founded over 150 years ago to provide good, honest, affordable food for the masses. Having supported our communities through two world wars, our members and colleagues have always shown great resilience and kindness throughout our history, as they are in the current crisis. 

“As a co-operative we have a unique model where our members own our co-op and are rewarded with a dividend based on their participation in our success. We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from our members for keeping the region fed and cared for during the crisis. Today, we are giving our members the chance to give a little back to our community as we come together to fight this enemy.”

In addition to this, East of England is undertaking a number of initiatives to support both colleagues and communities, including:

  • The introduction of a 10% discount off all Food store purchases for NHS workers and Carers 
  • Supporting the NHS Charities Together, Covid-19 Urgent Appeal Fund with an in-store collection (target £50,000)
  • Saying thank you to all East of England Co-op colleagues for their tireless work to keep supporting the community with an additional week’s pay – worth over £1 million – to be paid tomorrow (Thursday 30 April)

Mr O’Keeffe added: “This is a significant package of investment which will help support our communities and say thank you to our remarkable colleagues for their exceptional hard work during the crisis. 

“Everyone in our co-op has been affected by the changes wrought by coronavirus. From an unprecedented level of demand for supplies and services, to adapting to working remotely our colleagues have reacted quickly, professionally and with real stoicism. 

“From our Food store, Forecourt and Post Office colleagues working to keep our stores open and stocked, our Travel teams supporting customers with their travel plans changing, our Property team working with our tenants and our Funeral teams continuing to provide high standards of care and service to families in these difficult times, it truly is a co-operative effort.” 

Details on how to donate to the fund will be issued to all eligible East of England members alongside their dividend cheques, which will arrive in June.

As a community retailer at the heart of communities, the East of England Co-op has also:  

  • Introduced a 10% discount off Food store purchases for NHS workers and Carers when they show their NHS card or green Care badge 
  • Launched an in-store collection, with a £50,000 target, for NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal Fund – donation buckets can be found in all East of England Co-op Food stores until Sunday 3 May
  • Contributed over £230,000 to its East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund, which represents the remainder of its available community engagement budget for the year. This includes a previously announced donation of £75,000 to support vital services, including; 22 Trussell Trust and independent foodbanks and Age UK and Community Foundation’s in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex  
  • £10,000 of support was also provided to Waveney Foodbank following a plea for support  
  • Donated excess screens to St Elizabeth Hospice for use on their reception desks to protect both their colleagues and visitors.   

More information at www.eastofengland.coop/communitycares

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