THE Co-operative Group is to donate £ 200,000 to help in the longer term recovery of countries affected by the recent tsunami disaster.
Half the money will go to the Co-operative Aid Development Fund co-ordinated by Co-operatives UK to support the redevelopment and rebuilding of communities hit by the tsunami.
In addition to the Co-op Group pledge, the Co-operatives UK appeal has been kick-started by donations of £ 50,000 from United Co-operatives, £ 20,000 from Lothian, Borders & Angus Co-op and £ 15,000 from West Midlands Society.
The Movement-wide appeal hopes to raise over £ 500,000 for long-term reconstruction and the money raised will be used alongside other funds set up by co-ops worldwide.
Work with communities and co-ops in the affected area has already started and the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) met in Berlin recently to look at how to co-ordinate longer-term support. Co-operatives UK was at the meeting, with representatives from the ILO, the World Bank, Oxfam and Care.
Many co-ops have already sent donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), established in the UK to represent the country's 12 largest charities. With additional generous support from customers, employees and members, the Co-operative Movement has already raised hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In addition to this emergency help there is a growing requirement for money to support the redevelopment of communities, by contributing to the rebuilding of homes, schools and businesses and by helping to create jobs for the survivors. This is likely to be an ongoing need over months and years.
Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK, said: "The worldwide response to the tsunami tragedy has been staggering, with the level of donations far outstripping anything ever seen before.
"The initial contributions were crucial to ensure that the dead were buried, to prevent disease, and to support the immediate needs of the survivors in terms of medical services, clean water, food and shelter. But as time go by, the longer term needs of the affected communities become more pressing."
According to Dame Pauline, the strong connections of the Co-operative Movement in the UK with the co-operative movements in the countries concerned put it in a powerful position to make a lasting contribution to the rebuilding of devastated communities.
"The Co-operative Aid Development Fund will provide UK co-operatives with a mechanism for directly contributing to the redevelopment of jobs,homes and education ? issues at the heart of global co-operative philosophy ? in affected areas for months and years to come."
The Co-operative Aid Development Fund is open to all co-ops, social enterprises and individuals who want to make a contribution to rebuilding the affected countries. Cheques should be made payable to ?Co-operatives UK Tsunami Appeal' and sent to: Dame Pauline Green, Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK, Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester M60 0AS.
Meanwhile, the other half of the Co-operative Group's donation will be used to support this year's Make Poverty History campaign, which aims to narrow the gap between rich and poor countries.
Group customers and employees have already given a huge response to appeals for immediate aid ? in just three weeks, they donated almost £ 750,000 to the DEC.
Martin Beaumont, Group Chief Executive, explained: "This tragedy touched everyone. There is now the massive task of rebuilding to be done and this is where the board felt aid could be best directed."
For more information about the campaign visit: www.makepovertyhistory.org.