The co-operative movement has played an important role in feeding the UK for almost two centuries.
Over the last week we’ve seen co-ops across the country kick into gear to look after the most vulnerable people in our society and help support our communities at a difficult time.
It’s work like this that makes us proud to be the political party of the co-operative movement as we face into an uncertain few months.
In case you’ve missed some of the news, here’s a round-up from the movement:
Recruiting thousands to feed the nation
Co-ops have been working hard to make sure that the shelves are stacked and that there is enough food to go around.
In the last few days societies such as the Co-op Group, Central England and Scotmid have also announced a huge recruitment campaign to get more people to join their teams.
Together they are creating over 5,000 jobs in communities across the country, with a focus on encouraging people who’ve recently lost their jobs in the hospitality and retail sector to apply.
Ensuring children don’t go hungry
All schools across the UK will be closed from Friday for most pupils. While this is important in tackling the spread of the virus, we need to remember the vital role that school meals play in feeding many of our children.
This week, the Co-op Group helped lead the campaign to ensure that no child should go hungry because they can’t get to school.
They’ve announced that every pupil who attends a Co-op Academy and receives free school meals will get a £20 voucher each week that schools were closed.
That’s been followed by the government, who are now looking at a similar programme for other schools to issue vouchers to their pupils to be used at supermarkets. It means the co-op movement will play an important role in feeding our young people in the weeks ahead.
Backing our retail workers
This crisis has underlined how shopworkers provide vital public service that for too long has gone unrecognised. While many of us are able to work from home, shopworkers are going out and risking their own wellbeing to feed the nation during this exceptionally difficult time.
Co-operative MP Jim McMahon, asked the government on Wednesday to recognise the importance of retail workers. He helped ensure they were later designated as key workers in the government’s plans to tackle coronavirus.
This builds on our efforts to change the law and secure stronger protections for shopworkers and tougher penalties against those who assault or threaten them. That’s why in Parliament on Monday, Co-op MP Alex Norris presented a new bill to make violence #NotPartOfTheJob.
Continuing the fight for food justice
For many of us, the current crisis is the first time we’ve had genuine concerns about our ability to feed ourselves and our families. But for many families, food insecurity is an every day experience that may get worse in the coming weeks.
Co-ops have been at the fore of ensuring that food banks are protected, despite the shortages we’ve seen in stores.
That includes the work of societies such as Central England who operate a ground-breaking partnership with FareShare to redistribute unsold food. As the amount of unsold food fell dramatically, they took the step to make a donation to ensure that vital food packages could continued to be delivered.
This is only a snapshot of the incredible work we’ve seen taking place across the country this week.
We’ve shown once again the difference that co-operative businesses, rooted in their communities can make.
In the time to come, our movement will continue to play its part and support our communities to come together.
If you’re proud of what’s been achieved so far, click below to share.