By Jean Stuart-Cole, Store Manager Whalley Range
I work in the Whalley Range store in Chorlton, which is just outside of Manchester City Centre. We get a lot of gangs hanging around the shop and they often come in and cause distress both to my team and our customers, homelessness is a big issue around here too.
Chorlton has been chosen to be part of a community pilot as part of the Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign to see how we can tackle the causes of crime and violence in communities by working with others in the area that are either facing the same issues as us or are already working on things to make a difference.
We’re running a similar thing in Greenwich, London, so it’s been great to speak to those store managers as well and hear about how they’re finding the pilot and what they are learning.
We started by hosting some listening groups with local members, colleagues and causes to see what they had to say about crime in the area. Not only was it reassuring to hear we’re all fighting the same battle but it was great to build stronger relationships with them and see how we can join forces to make a real difference in Chorlton.
Since the listening groups we’ve been chatting with local schools and a local theatre group to hear about some of the work they’re doing to steer young people away from a life of crime. I’ve also learnt lots from others in the area about homelessness and it’s definitely opened my eyes up to how people end up homeless and how they want to be treated. I’ve definitely changed the way I approach the topic with my team and the people that come into my store.
We’re going to be working with these groups to run some skill-based programmes in the area, as the feedback suggests that this is an important way to help make a difference to people’s lives. We’re making extra effort to promote food share in our community, a practical way to help people who just need that extra little bit of help.
I know it won’t be a quick fix but I’m proud to work for the Co-op and do the right thing for my local community.