It received the Employment Award for its pioneering Making Opportunities scheme at the Business Charity Awards ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The award recognises excellence in charity partnership work focusing on young people and many of those taking part in the scheme are under 25 years old.
Through the programme, The Co-operative worked with the charity Mencap to introduce people with a learning disability into paid employment.
There are currently over 1.3 million people with a disability in the UK who are available for work and who want to work. The unique Co-operative’s Making Opportunities scheme offers guaranteed paid employment to people with a learning disability in food stores on successful completion of a work trial.
So far, 154 people have taken part in the work trial, which replaces a formal interview, and 92 have been offered permanent employment within Co-operative food stores (80 of whom are 25 or under).
Gwynneth Smedley, the Group’s Regional Operations Director for Food, said: “By working with Mencap, we are engaging with one of the most excluded groups of people with a disability in the UK. This initiative gives them the opportunity to reach their potential and contribute to society.”
The Co-operative Group also won the Best UK Project Award at the same event, for its Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers programme with national sports charity, StreetGames.
• The Co-operative Group has relaunched its unique scheme to help protect homeless people against the health risks associated with sun exposure.
The Co-operative Pharmacy has joined up with the organisation Sunwise to supply free factor 30 sun cream and aftersun to the homeless in 14 UK cities during the summer. Following the initial roll-out of the scheme last year to 12 cities and a trial in Cardiff in 2008, the scheme continues to grow.