Community impact is at the heart of future strategy for growth & development

Posted by Jo Baldock | 30/11/2016 | Category: Community

Central England Co-operative has support for local communities woven into its DNA and, similar to other co-operative societies, it has an in-built commitment to positively impact upon the wellbeing, education and support of its members and the wider community. 

Until now this investment to support local communities has been promoted and developed, without fully analysing and measuring its wider impact.  So, with the full support of its Board, the Society is currently in the final stages of an in-depth social return on investment report (SROI).  This report has been carried out by ‘Make an Impact CIC’ an independent consultant who specialises in measuring social impact. The focus has been on the Society’s Community Dividend, award winning SENse to Aspire Scheme and member groups - with a view to widening the scope in future reports.   This new way of reporting will outline Central England’s positive impact on communities and social projects – to be released in the next edition of Co-operative News. 

The intent is to encourage other co-operatives to undertake similar analysis in order to illustrate the co-operative difference and the benefits of positive community engagement.  This kind of reporting can show a marked difference between the impact made by co-operative retailers compared with other business ownership models.

In preparation for the release of this ground-breaking report, Central England Co-operative can demonstrate a major impact on its communities with over £1 million invested in good causes in the 2015/16 alone.  The Society, which is made up of 430 trading outlets across 16 counties, gave a total of £1,191,000 in the form of investing in the community, donating to charity and supporting co-operatives during 2015/16.  When coupled with the investment made during 2014/15, this has meant that the communities which the Society serves have reaped benefits to the tune of almost £2.5 million.

2016 has seen the Society’s support for its corporate charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children reinvigorated, as part of a bid to increase the overall amount raised for this great cause to £1.5 million.  Colleagues, members and customers have pulled together and latest figures show that they have helped raise over £248,000 in 2015/16.

Central England also helps local good causes by allowing charities and community groups to collect donations from the public in its stores.  Support is also given to major events such as the Macmillan Coffee Morning, which the Society’s Funeral business helped to raise over £12,000 in September this year.

2015/16 also saw funding of £670,000 to support community groups across the trading area. This has been achieved via the continued success of the Society’s Community Dividend Fund and the work of the Membership and Community Councils.   The past few months have seen a wide variety of projects funded under the Community Dividend including new children’s play areas, community hall repairs and even the building of a fully kitted out workshop to help retired men cope with loneliness.

Martyn Cheatle, Chief Executive of Central England Co-operative, said:

“All of us involved with the Society – whether it be colleagues, customers or members – are proud that giving back and supporting the communities in which we trade is a key part of our ethos as a co-operative business.
“Whether it’s raising money for the amazing work that Newlife does across our trading area or providing vital donations to support causes close to the heart of our communities as part of our Community Dividend Fund activity, these latest figures showcase that giving back is at the heart of what we do and what Central England Co-operative is about.”

The on-going commitment and focus on community and charity at Central England was highlighted earlier this year after the Society was named Leading Co-operative of the Year 2016. Winning this award offered a unique opportunity for the Society to highlight the investment and positive impact it has in its trading areas, making the case for the Co-operative point of difference to the wider public.

The ability to continue with this investment is fuelled by the Society’s strong financial performance and long term strategy to deliver future business growth in a sustainable way.

About The Author: Jo Baldock

Learning and development

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