UK co-op movement celebrates Pride Month

Co-operators have been showing their support for LGBTQ+ communities, both during June and all year round

Co-operators across the UK have been showing support and taking action for this year’s Pride Month, a global celebration of LGBTQ+ communities, which takes place annually in June.

Throughout the past month, the Co-op Group has hosted internal activities including colleague panel discussions and Pride-focused Co-op Radio shows, led by its LGBTQ+ colleague network, Respect.  

The Group will also be supporting over 40 Pride events this summer, including Manchester, London, Bristol, Glasgow and Brighton & Hove.

Midcounties co-operative will be supporting Warwickshire Pride this August, and have been encouraging colleagues to join the Pride Month celebrations by attending local events and sharing stories via its “Count me in” initiative.  Midcounties stores also took part in a Rainbow Pride Day on 26 June to raise awareness and funds for the LGBT Foundation.

Colleagues at Lincolnshire co-op have also been sharing stories and awareness of Pride Month internally, and plan to attend their local Pride events, including Lincoln Pride on 17 August.

Chelmsford Star co-op commissioned local artists to create Pride window displays along the Essex Pride march route, which took place on 22 June. 

Channel Islands co-operative are a founding sponsor of Channel Islands Pride, which takes place in September this year, and have also been sharing recipes and tips for those wanting to host their own Pride celebrations.

Channel Islands said: “Whether you are a colleague, member or just someone popping to our stores, we celebrate not only the diversity of our communities but what brings us together.

A successful Pride event is good for our community. Pride builds community spirit, so join us and be part of a welcoming, inclusive community in your island.”

Central Co-op is also supporting a number of Pride events including Birmingham, Peterborough, Corby, Lichfield, Stafford, Chesterfield, Belper, Lowestoft and Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Central stores in these locations are also now stocking exclusive products such as keyrings, fans and travel cups, to raise funds for Oxfam’s work supporting LGBTQ+ communities around the world. 

The retailer also launched an LGBTQIA+ colleague inclusion network earlier this year. Andy Peake, Centrals’s chief commercial officer and executive sponsor of the LGBTQIA+ inclusion network, said that, “while society has made progress, there’s still much work to be done. It’s vital that our colleagues feel safe at work, able to be their authentic selves without fear of discrimination”. 

East of England Co-op sponsors both Norwich Pride and Colchester Pride, as well as gay and inclusive rugby team Colchester Kings RFC, and during Pride Month reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community all year round, saying:

“Pride means more than a parade to us. It is a commitment to all our colleagues to create a culture where LGBTQ+ colleagues can thrive, grow, and feel they belong.”

On 15 June, colleagues at the Co-op Bank marched at Stoke-on-Trent’s Pride festival, which they sponsor along with Manchester Pride. The Co-op Bank also has a policy of refusing banking services to “any organisations that deny LGBTQ+ rights”.

The Co-operative Party shared a message from Labour & Co-operative candidate Anneliese Dodds, who stated her support for co-operators taking part in Pride events across the country.

“Up and down the country, co-operators are showing their commitment to equality in all of its forms,” said Dodds, adding:

“It’s brilliant that so many of us will be attending Prides up and down the country. Now really is the time when unfortunately, we see the enemies of equality campaigning against it, we will always be on the side of equality, so thank you co-operators, for all you do.”