I’ve just finished speaking at our AGM in Manchester, my first time as Co-op Group CEO.
We made some exciting announcements, heard from some great guests, and most importantly, we received the overwhelming backing of our members as we return to being a Campaigning Co-op.
Here are some of the big numbers I announced this morning.
We’ve attracted nearly 890,000 new members since we re-launched our Co-op Membership last September.
We’ve raised £6m to tackle Loneliness and we’re going to spend that money recruiting British Red Cross Community Connectors who’ll support thousands of people across the UK to reconnect with their local communities.
We’re committing an additional £1bn to British Farm produce over the next three years and extending our 100% British Meat promise to our frozen range too.
Lemn Sissay – our new Ambassador
A highlight of the morning was welcoming the outstanding poet and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay (pictured left) who’s agreed to be the Ambassador for our Member Pioneers. We had the first of the Pioneers we’ve recruited with us to meet Lemn for the first time.
Back to Campaigning
Our three Co-op Way motions on Recycling, Fairtrade, and Modern Slavery have clearly caught the imagination of our members. The huge support we received for this work means we have a clear mandate to take action and be among the strongest voices championing these vital causes.
- On Recycling, 80% of our packaging will be recyclable by 2020 with a firm commitment to get to 100%. And we’re going to keep working with local councils to make recycling easier for everyone
- On Fairtrade, we’re going to extend our ingredients policy beyond cocoa so that wherever we use bananas, tea and coffee in any Co-op label product, it will be sourced on Fairtrade terms
- On Modern Slavery, our aim in 2017 is to offer 30 people rescued from slavery, paid work experience and the opportunity of a job
We welcomed several very special guests to our Co-op today which showed how seriously our campaigning is being taken.
The President of the National Farmers Union, Meurig Raymond (far left), was with us to welcome our commitment to British Farming; Mike Gidney (left), the CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, endorsed our on-going work; and Kevin Hyland, the UK’s first anti-slavery Commissioner, recognised the leadership we’re showing.
Finally, a special mention to Steven Jennings (pictured with me) from our Masham store in Yorkshire whose shining example of Being Co-op allowed me to thank all 70,000 Co-op colleagues who work day in day out to serve the needs of our members and customers. I’ll tell you more about Steven next week.
So a great day for our Co-op democracy and proof that our strong campaigning past has just become our strong campaigning future too.