By Maruf Choudhury, Store Manager, Chalfont St Giles

I’ve worked for the Co-op since 2012, and I’ve been a Store Manager since 2017. I love working in a close-knit community. I’ve worked in four or five stores and love getting to know the regulars who have a laugh and a joke with you. You end up knowing the customers by name, and you build a great relationship with them. Over the years, I’ve made quite a lot of friends.

Most of the time, everyone is understanding of our jobs and the role we’re playing in our local communities. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve noticed that our community has become closer. Our regular customers care about us, and we’ve even received thank you cards telling us we’re doing a great job and to keep it up. It’s been nice to see them appreciating us and the work we’re doing. 

However, there’s another side to our daily lives as a community retailer, some of which has been amplified throughout the pandemic. We do get a lot of difficult customers. 

We’ve had multiple robberies within the time I’ve been a Store Manager. On one occasion, two masked men jumped over the tills, grabbed all the cigarettes and ran. They also physically abused some of our colleagues in the raid. 

I’ve seen my colleagues’ being grabbed by the hair and dragged across the shopfloor and once some men forced their way into our back office. We’ve been threatened, pushed around and I’ve even been knocked off my feet. It’s made me question whether I can really do this job. It’s incredibly harrowing and never gets easier to deal with.

Every time something like this happens, we have to pull together to reassure and support one another. We need to give each other the confidence that it’s safe to carry on working in the store. 

Often, we try to diffuse the situation from escalating, but there’s only so much you can do. And often, there’s nothing you can do.  

What we can do is make sure we don’t put ourselves in danger or in a vulnerable position. Each year, we get training to remind us of our responsibilities and how to protect ourselves and our customers. At the end of the day, our lives are more important than stock and money. Never put yourself at risk. 

Recently, our jobs have become more complicated. We’re supporting people and helping protect communities by staying open. But this virus has taken its toll on society.  People are losing jobs. Everyone’s going through tough times, and on rare occasions, they’re taking it out on us and others on the front-line. We do feel safer now Co-op has invested in safety devices such as body cameras, guarding etc. But we need to continue to look after each other and invest our time and resources in the communities we serve.

That’s why I’m really proud to be a part of this campaign. I’m lending my voice to try and make change in society. Sharing your experience and campaigning for change is an incredibly powerful thing you can do as an individual. And it’s something we can all do together.

Please help spread the word about this important campaign through Social Hub. There are resources, videos and posts about the campaign that you can share on your social media.

I’ll be able to look back and think: I tried to make a difference. And if that difference does come about, I would be the proudest person.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Wow. That’s a really powerful ad-break. It is awful that people think it’s ok to abuse someone like that. I do wonder whether the pressures, widening inequalities and the emphasis of the individual over community over the last forty years have lead to this.

  2. It really is awful that you have to go through this, and I hope it makes more people aware by watching the advert. You do such a valuable job in serving the community and never forget that. I love to go into store and see the interaction between staff and customers – carry on doing your great job – it really is appreciated. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  3. I saw the advert ( probably not the right way to describe it ) the other night and it was terrible watching and listening to the experiences of the three people.
    This country lacks respect. The I only think and care about myself attitude is a sad sign of the times. Here’s hoping the tide will turn some time Maruf and other employees everywhere will not have to stand the abuse anymore.
    Well done to all for being willing to tell your story

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