By Darren Widd, Columbus Ravine Funeral Director

Talkback is a great avenue to give real insight to your managers about a range of different things. It gives us an opportunity to voice our opinions, and provides a true reflection of what it’s like working here at Co-op.

However, Talkback isn’t the only avenue we have to share our experiences. I’m actively involved in the Co-op network Colleague Voice, which is a national forum with around 35 representatives from each business area. This is another channel where we can listen to colleagues to help enable and inform change for colleagues. It works as a great avenue to explore themes that come out of our Talkback and Pulse results.

Recently we were discussing the Pulse results, where one of the key themes was around community involvement. We found that colleagues don’t understand community involvement and whether they can even get involved as part of their roles. Another topic was about silo working, and how different parts of the Co-op still feel very segmented and separate.

In the spirit of these findings, I mentioned that our funeral home is connected to a few community groups, and I’ve been working closely with them. We’ve been exploring different ideas on how we can help fundraise and support the vulnerable families they support. Luckily, Helen Lumley from National Transport Planning was also in the forum and said how she’d love to help get involved.

Working together we managed to get an order arranged from Birtley depot and delivered to a local food store in Whitby. I was then able go in and pick up the food and deliver it to the community groups. It took a few conversations between our funeral home, Birtley depot and Whitby store, but everything went smoothly and we were able to pick up our food donation.

In fact, we had so much food that we were able to share it out and help three different community projects:

  • The Rainbow Centre – a food bank for the social and welfare community
  • Filey Fridge – supports the local community with food hampers for those who’ve fallen on hard times
  • Street Angels – volunteers helping those living rough on the streets with food and essential items

The people that use these services are all extremely vulnerable. Unfortunately we’ve been seeing an increase in families using food banks and homelessness, but by working together, we’ve been able to make a real difference for these community projects.

Helen Lumley, National Transport Planning said:

After hearing Darren’s story we offered support from Birtley to help the Filey area. Logistically speaking, this wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but our teams in Logistics, Whitby Food Store and Funeralcare all joined together and made it happen. I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish by talking and engaging with each other.

It’s been a real pleasure to see how we can work across different business areas to help support each other and local community projects. It showcases how important it is to regularly provide feedback to Co-op through Talkback surveys and via your Colleague Voice representative. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together and as a business.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Darren, it’s really good to hear that Funeralcare and Food are coming together and working towards our common goal which is to serve our local communities

    There are so many instances now where the businesses are joining forces to help each other thrive and succeed.

    In Dunfermline we have been collecting the boxes of the compostable bags used in our Food stores and putting the £120 off Funeral Plan flyers in them before returning them to the shop therefore making it easy for our store colleagues to promote the benefit to our members

    We have been known to send a Limousine along to our Food stores on a quieter day to offer to take shoppers home with their shopping in a bit of style

    I spent the day working in a local Food store last week to gain a small understanding of how that business area works, it was a real eye opener (in a good way)

    All great ways to combine our businesses and to demonstrate to customers and colleagues that we are indeed one Co-op

    Long may it continue

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