Slide inviting colleagues to put their questions to Steve Murrells about community

Want to ask the CEO something? Here’s your chance!

Please add your questions for Steve Murrells in the comments below and we’ll put a selection of them to him in our next Q&A session. Right now local causes can apply for the next round of funding, so we thought a good theme this time would be around all things community.

Give us your questions from your experiences of supporting local causes in your community; where you may have helped a local group become one of those to benefit from our funding; or from your activities around the celebration day we held in April. Perhaps you’d like to know what the future holds for our community support or maybe what Steve thinks about the two days we offer all colleagues to volunteer in you communities? Whatever’s on your mind, pop your question below and we’ll put some of the more popular ones (both from here and across Colleague Facebook) to him.

Get your questions in by the end of Wednesday 12 July please and then look out for his answers next week.

Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. Good afternoon Steve,

    In our part of the business (funerals) building relationships within the community is key. This is not only with clients within the churches, groups and societies but with wider community pillars such as the doctors, ministers and all other parties which come together at the time of need to, in turn, pass the very best service to the families that we look after.

    We do indeed hold regular ‘opinion formers’ lunches where we take these people out to lunch or afternoon tea to say thank you and also promote the Co-op. It is true to say that without these people supporting us we would not be able to do the job that we do and certainly not to the best of our ability.

    I was therefore very disappointed following the recent Funeral Choices training to learn that we are being stopped from using our local printers for funeral stationary. Would you not agree that this is going against the ethos of the message that we should be promoting? When our local florist lost her father she asked us to look after the arrangements for him. I would have been upset if she had chosen a funeral director from another part of the town, do you agree?

  2. Thanks for all your questions so far. I’m going to be reviewing these, and those coming in through Colleague Facebook, tomorrow to sort out the most popular ones to put to Steve… so if you’ve still got any questions on your mind, add them now… ^Kevin

  3. A second question if I could?
    Most stores are split in to clusters but many members wish for their 1% to go to a different local cause which means something special too them, Online you can select a local cause up to 15 miles from your postal address which is great, however many of our members are unable to access the internet and when a member calls the membership helpline to select a different cause outside of their cluster they are told no this is only possible online.
    I have escalated this but had the same response, surly this is preventing us and our members from connecting to what they are passionate about and i’m sure a simple adjustment to our bureaucracy could solve this, Do you agree that this should be altered?

  4. Hi Steve. We’re watching the store franchising trial with interest. But what about the Co-op providing franchise-like support to shops in rural areas? The loss of a village shop can have a massive effect on rural communities – especially for people who aren’t mobile. The Co-op could really help to sustain village shops (including many which have been taken over by community groups themselves) and deliver great value and social cohesion for local people. At a basic level it could simply be supplying Co-op own brands – through to the Co-op providing wider commercial support and expertise. There’s a lot of deprivation and disadvantage in rural areas – it’s just well hidden. Worth considering?

  5. Steve,

    One thing that small local charities can find very difficult is being able to find volunteers with specialist skills (e.g. someone to help create a website, or give advice on publicity / accounts / charity law etc , or even to find guest speakers for meetings).
    Can we introduce and advertise a “Community Help wanted” board in the stores to allow local groups or even better, use our Digital expertise to create a forum where groups could ask for help and volunteers respond?

    • I think this is a great idea! Also if we aim this at students/recent graduates in this field as a way to boost their portfolio (and maybe offer a small incentive like some vouchers) it could give them a helping hand too.

  6. Ditto what Alan says. I am part of a local dramatic group rooted in the community who isn’t a charity (for lots of reasons). They can’t apply despite doing loads for the community, and a Co-op food store opening in the near future. How can we expand our brilliant offer to allow these to apply as well (obviously it would still be down to the powers that be to determine whether it is suitable or not)? If this could be done before the 8th August application deadline, that would be great as there is so much they could do with a share of this money.

  7. I would echo one of the previous comments about the strict criteria around charities, sports groups etc excluding many worthwhile causes. I am involved in a local amateur dramatics group central to a community with 2 Co-op stores within 1/2 mile of their base. Under current criteria they are not eligible.

  8. One way that Local Communities come together is through sport, be it Football, Rugby, Athletics etc. These local teams always need help – and we could offer that help by sponsoring their shirts/kit. The sponsorship could potentially pay for their kit – significantly reducing costs for parents and the sports team, therefore aiding more kids to get involved, and in turn more families connected to the community.
    If we roll this out nationally then we could come up with one standard “message/logo” on it that is still aimed directly at individual communities. For Example : “COOP – High St Food Store, For The community” (this is just an example – if this is an idea that is taken up then I am sure our Marketing guru’s can come up with a better slogan than mine!)

  9. when we go for the next national charity partnership, could we keep it with the comunity theme and pick a national campaign that has local connections.

    For example. such as Air ambulance. A national appeal but raising money for the groups that are very much in the comunities hearts.

  10. An easy way to have an immediate and valuable impact in our communities is to engage in projects such as local Dementia Action Alliances.
    My store (West Kirby) is already a member or Wirral DAA, and with the number of people living with dementia expected to hit 2,000,000 within the next couple of years this is a real healthcare & community crisis in the making.
    Aside from the benefits for people living with dementia, this would also help people with autism, and those with social anxiety.
    What would exemplify Being Coop more than leading the national retail sector in helping to make our communities more dementia friendly?
    Tesco and Sainsbury’s are already making small gestures that put them ahead of us, having all stores working to become dementia friendly would put us ahead of the sector, engage the community, and benefit millions, with incredibly little effort.
    Thanks Steve.

  11. Hi Steve,

    Now we have raised £6mill for the British Red Cross, what is next for our national charity partnerships, supporting local causes is fantastic but we only touch the surface of an issue with this… with national we can really see the difference we can make by campaigning on issues our members chose. Will we be announcing a new partnership soon?

  12. Steve, I think our 5&1 is fantastic and it’s great that we are supporting local causes, However I know of local causes that share our values & principles and do so much good work in our community but they do not meet the strict criteria, Many causes are not a registered charity, Registered sports club, church or scouts group. Please please please can this be looked in to so we can support our community even more?

  13. Is it possible to give your 5% to charity as well as the 1%. I have been asked this questions by members who want to give back to their community?

  14. Hi Steve, I’ve been working together with my local school who need new playground equipment but the requirements for local causes seem to be that they need to be a registered charity, and from what I am told they cannot be. What is a solution for this please? A school needing new equipment to enrich childrens play would be one I would be very interested in supporting, and the new Coop store at Birley Fields (I say new, it’s probably around 2 years old now!) is very local and I don’t doubt a lot of parents shop there. Thanks

    • My school is a registered charity and is currently one of the local causes for my Co-op you might want to check again. As for getting the backing go into the shop talk to the manager it’s ultimately them who make the decision.

  15. If w are all about the community in which we serve then wouldn’t it make sense to be using local contractors to service our buildings, fleet etc….and actually putting our money where our mouth is!
    We expect our community to support us and bring their business to us, shouldn’t we be doing the same in return..

    A tiler came 20+ miles to fit 25 small kitchen tiles, charging us just sub £300 when a local tradesperson could do it possibly same day at a fraction of the cost..

  16. Would it be possible for stores to have a small pot. Say £500. Taken from the 1%. To be available for local communities when they need a small grant, but quickly.
    Example would be local junior football group who needed new kit, or local kids play area that needed equipment repair.

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