Retail hero puts job disappointments behind her to serve community during pandemic and land dream role
A marketing expert has landed a dream role with Central England Co-op after completing a three-month spell helping her local store to provide food and essentials during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Hannah Frost was left out of work at the onset of the pandemic through no fault of her own, but rather than let the disappointment get her down, she offered her services to her local Co-op in Court Oak Road, Harbourne, as it faced unprecedented demand.
The 27-year-old has now landed a head office role becoming Retail Marketing Lead with the Lichfield-based retailer and signed off from the store by being recognised as its Colleague of the Month.
Hannah began her career with marketing roles in London with Debenhams and ASK Italian but after living in the capital for four years decided to move back to Birmingham in September last year to settle down with her partner.
After months of job hunting she thought she had finally landed on her feet with a role at Drayton Manor Park in March but after just a week in the role she had to self-isolate after showing Coronavirus symptoms and as lockdown hit, she didn’t qualify for the furlough scheme and was back on the job market.
Sitting at home bored she was desperate to do her bit and her boyfriend urged her to try their local Central England Co-op store as the retailer launched a recruitment drive for temporary colleagues.
Hannah said: “The store is literally five minutes away from where I live so I popped in and spoke with the store manager Louise and asked if she had any jobs. She said yes can you start tomorrow!
“I started on April 3 so it was right in the heat of it. What really struck me was the compassion of my colleagues. There is a retirement home across the road and they would call the store and Louise, or the team leaders would always take time no matter how busy we were to take orders and drop the shopping over the road safely to them for those who couldn’t get out.
“When we were in heavy lockdown, we were really the only people those customers would see for weeks so taking that time and showing that compassion was really important to them and something the team did really well.
“But also caring for each other - having a laugh and joke and not letting the situation get to them was so impressive. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget. You don’t realise until you work there just how hard people work in supermarkets and convenience stores. I found it so tiring!
“My role was a bit of everything really. I loved being on the till as you get to speak to people and have a chat to them. For some elderly and vulnerable customers, you were the only person they saw and it was a stressful time so I saw it as important to make them feel comfortable and take the time to get to know them. I’m a people person so enjoy that side of it and it was really rewarding.
“I had only moved to Harbourne last September, I’m from Solihull originally, so don’t have many friends here or know the community that well, so working there has really helped me personally as well as I’ve made new friends and see some of the customers out and about and they will say hello so that’s lovely.”
When Hannah started at the Court Oak Road store she had no idea about any vacancies in the retailer’s marketing team but after developing a passion for the Society’s ethos and values when she heard of an opening in the team she knew she had to go for it.
She said: “A recruiter had mentioned in January that Central England Co-op would be a good fit but at that time there were no roles, so the Society was in my mind and after working at the store for a couple of weeks I thought, I really love the brand and the values, and the people I worked with were all really passionate and care about what they do.
“From that I thought I wanted to see if there was any development potential here for me and I saw there was a marketing job being advertised so I spoke to Louise and she said you need to go for it.
“Being in store for those three months has really helped me in understanding the business as coming from hospitality, food retail is very different, so that has helped me hit the ground running.
“I’m really excited as I’m passionate about the ethical side of the business and the community aspect of what we do and it’s great to be working somewhere where I can really develop, and I hope there will be good years ahead.”
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
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.
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