Hi I’m Saleem and I’m the Director of Internal Audit here at the Co-op.
My day job’s really varied, as it involves looking at risks and putting checks in place to make sure that we’re doing the right things, legally, ethically and commercially. To do this my role is to act independently from the Co-op – a bit like a critical friend, but my team gets involved in lots of different areas, from strategy to operations, finance and health and safety.
I’m also one of six Trustees of the Co-op Foundation, the Co-op’s own charity, which helps disadvantaged communities work together to make things better. I got involved with it as I thought that I could bring some really practical skills from my Audit role and my background in business and operations.
The Foundation re-launched last year with a new campaign to tackle youth loneliness, as the Co-op’s research with the British Red Cross showed that 1 in 3 young people are lonely. The Foundation aims to connect and empower young people, strengthen local youth services and start a national conversation to break down the stigma about youth loneliness. The Foundation also runs the Co-op volunteering programme, which gives colleagues the opportunities to volunteer in our academies and other community organisations.
Developing their confidence with numeracy and financial skills can be incredibly empowering for young people. We have a programme called ‘Massive Maths’ that colleagues from audit, finance and shared services teach in our academy schools a few times a year. The sessions are a really fun way to learn numeracy skills through games, and the pupils are always keen to take part. I think as Co-op colleagues we can bring a fresh approach as we can talk about the Co-op and how important maths is in our jobs.
Being a Co-op Foundation Trustee is very different to my day job. It’s a very creative role and it’s very rewarding as you can see the difference you’re making directly, through the people you help and the feedback and interest you get. The Foundation has set itself some big goals, and in 2017 we made some great progress:
- We built up a network of 24 projects tackling youth loneliness across the UK
- We piloted ways to strengthen communities by helping local groups become more financially sustainable and develop their digital skills
- We gave members a voice in shaping our future priorities
Looking ahead to 2018, the Foundation will:
- Raise more funds and awareness to tackle youth loneliness, through our ‘Belong’ campaign, which members can now support with their 1% membership reward
- Launch our new programme of investment and support for community groups
- Work even more closely with our Co-op businesses to maximise the difference we can make together
The Foundation’s always looking for extra help, and wherever you are in the country there will be opportunities to get involved– either by fundraising, volunteering or helping raise awareness among our colleagues and members.
So if your New Year’s resolution is to volunteer or get involved in your community, why not see what the Foundation has to offer? Just email the team – firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Twitter – @Coop_Foundation