As a Labour and Co-operative Party Councillor, I always try to do my best for people. So when I was asked if I’d be happy to help support the Central England Co-operative during the current pandemic, I happily said yes. I’ve been on Central England’s Membership and Community Council for nearly a year, acting as an Ambassador for the Society. Usually I can be found working in schools (talking about the fantastic work we do promoting Fairtrade), helping with ethical challenges in store, and assisting at events – but of course that’s all on hold for the time being.
So instead, I’ve spent the last four days at a lovely store in Heatherton Village on the outskirts of Derby, assisting wherever and with whatever I can. I’ve stocked shelves, scanned for labels to display new products that have come in to replace the usual stock, cleaned fridge doors and shelves, and for the last two days I’ve been stationed on the front door cleaning basket and trolley handles and asking customers to wait as we took the decision to limit customers to five at a time. The term “retail heroes” has never meant more – and when someone referred to me as one, I must confess it brought a tear to my eye.
I’ve never been prouder to be part of the co-operative movement. I’m working with some amazing people: store colleagues who are going above and beyond to make sure they can stay open, and that customers can stay safe. They’ve had to put up with some very difficult circumstances – they’ve had customers argue and shout at them and they’ve been incredible and kept very calm.
I think giving people rules and limits has been generally well received. People generally respond well to boundaries and customers here have been brilliant! They’ve come to their local store, they’re glad to see colleagues they know who greet them with a smile, and they’re very happy to see most of the products they want are available. Queuing is putting some people off, but I assume that means what they need isn’t essential and shouldn’t really be out! I’ll be here as long as I’m needed, and will continue to work with a smile on my face, knowing I’m doing my bit to keep Britain going.
— Co-operative Party (@CoopParty) March 27, 2020