Councillor swaps the shop floor to helping support vital community hub project in Derby
A Derby councillor has swapped stacking food onto shelves at a Central England Co-op store to using it to create vital care packages for vulnerable people in the local community.
Joanna West, who is part of the Society’s Membership and Community Council and represents Osmaston and Sinfin on Derby City Council, had been lending a hand in the retailer’s Heatherton Village store.
However, she has now moved from ensuring customers and members have access to food and vital essentials to being part of a pioneering project that has seen another of Central England Co-op’s stores, in Littleover, turned into a community hub to help those in need.
The scheme sees Derby City Council identify vulnerable community members, gather orders and pass them onto the store. Central England Co-op colleagues and volunteers like Joanna then create a package and take payment from the customer over the phone before the local authority delivers the goods.
Joanna said: “As an ambassador on Central England Co-operative’s Membership and Community Council I always enjoy promoting the co-operative difference, whether that is supporting our groups, engaging with the community at events or doing challenges with pupils in school or in store.
“When the pandemic initially hit I was asked to support colleagues in store. I happily went along to Heatherton Village store and worked alongside colleagues for three weeks doing a variety of jobs.
“Last week I was asked to support the newly set up community hub and I have been based here for a week now. This community hub has been set up in conjunction with Derby City Council and provides a shopping service to those vulnerable, isolated people who aren’t able to shop for themselves or who haven’t got friends and family nearby who can help. It bridges that important gap for people who would shop if they could but who can’t leave their house at this time.
“We have a list of around 80 items that customers can choose from, items that we expect to have in stock, though if there’s anything else they want they can specify separately and if we have it in stock we add it to their order.
“Customers call Derby City Council and place an order and that is sent electronically to us at the hub. We have our own warehouse of products, and then go into the store to pick anything from the fridges, before volunteers deliver the order straight to the customer. Payment is taken over the phone and customers are enjoying having a bit of a chat with us on the phone - we’re providing a bit of a lifeline to those in isolation.
“It’s great to be working in co-operation with the council and providing a valuable service to those who need help during this difficult time.”
The rollout of the project with Derby City Council is part of a plan to create similar projects based out of Central England Co-op community hub stores across the 16 counties it trades in and even farther afield on a national scale. Other community hubs are also in place in Lichfield, Stafford and Burton.
People can keep up to date with what is happening in their local community by visiting a dedicated online hub at www.centralengland.coop/updates
Notes to editors
Picture caption: Joanna West working as part of the new Central England Co-op community hub in Derby.
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.
Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish.
Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.
Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.
We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.
Visit www.centralengland.coop for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood
Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle
Phone - 01543 421390
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