Derby Co-op food store colleagues swap their uniforms for pyjamas to highlight mental health awareness

Retail heroes at a Central England Co-op food store in Derby have helped shine a light on the vital issue of mental health during these uncertain times by swapping their uniforms for pyjamas for the day.

Hard-working colleagues at the Smalley Drive Food Store in Oakwood donned their best nightwear along with special green ribbons – the international symbol of mental health awareness – to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18-24).

Store Manager Michelle Morley came up with the idea and it proved a talking point with customers, helping to raise a smile but also to get people talking about this important subject, particularly during these challenging times.

Team Leader at the Smalley Drive store Anouska Peach said the team were proud to be an important part of the community in Oakwood and explained why they were so keen to mark Mental Health Awareness Week in their own unique way.

She said: “It was Michelle’s idea to wear the pyjamas as at first it was going to be Christmas jumpers but with the weather we decided against it! The reason for the us wearing pyjamas is really that everyone has been feeling the effects of the current situation and with it being Mental Health Awareness Week we wanted to show people even in your darkest times you can get through it.

“The customers absolutely loved it and we had lots of very positive feedback; one customer said how we had made her smile when she didn't have much to smile about. They asked questions and as we were all wearing the green ribbons we explained to them why we were in our PJs, they thought it was an excellent idea.

“I do think the Smalley Drive store team have really helped cheer up a lot of the Oakwood community. We have an excellent team and we have always got a smile on their faces, always laughing and always singing even when they feel the effects themselves.”

Central England Co-op has marked Mental Health Awareness by holding a ‘Big Brew’ across its Food Stores, Funeral Homes and Distribution Hubs, encouraging colleagues to take a pause from their vital work supporting communities during the Coronavirus outbreak and ‘have a brew’.

To support the campaign, every frontline colleague across the Society has received a tea bag to help them take part, which was part of a pack offering hints and tips on how to get support if they need it.

Anouska added: “The team found the Big Brew really helpful and we chatted over a cuppa and cakes. The team have found it a massive help and feel that they can be very open.

“We were very keen to mark the week in store because we believe that everyone needs someone to talk to and things should never be brushed under the carpet.

“The team have coped really well over the last few weeks – it's been very hard at times but mainly we've coped by making each other and customers laugh, whether me with my silly Christmas glasses or hats or everyone having a good sing song. We are all in it together.”

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Notes to editors

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 serving our 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.

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