By Gemma Robinson, Colleague Council Member

Our National Members’ Council is a voice for Co-op Members and helps us meet the needs of the communities we serve and support. It’s involved in all parts of Co-op life and champions our co-operative values and principles. 

As a Colleague Council Member, I represent colleagues in our North East Constituency. I share their views to help Co-op support colleagues’ wellbeing in the best way possible. 

I work at Co-op as a Customer Team Member and I’m proud of the role we’ve all played in keeping the nation fed. Sadly though, the pandemic introduced new safety and protection challenges at work, which is something Co-op has been tackling since 2018. 

The Council unanimously voted to make Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities a campaign. And along with hundreds of colleagues from around the UK, Colleague Council Members have been sharing their stories to help us make important changes to store systems, processes and lobby the government for greater protection.

It was amazing to hear that an amend to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been tabled, which will make an attack on retail workers an aggravated offence for the first time. I’m so appreciative of how Council fought for action to be taken. We play a key role in what our Co-op campaigns on and I can’t wait to help shape what we do next.

When I’m not busy working in my store, I’m getting members and customers co-operating locally as a Member Pioneer. Last year, we held lots of Join In Live Local Events online for communities to share their views and get involved in doing their bit for the environment. 

98% of Co-op Members voted for Council’s climate change motion at our 2020 AGM and we were so pleased when it was followed up with the launch of our Ten-Point Climate Plan and climate justice campaign last year. Council will be focusing on getting members involved with our amazing initiatives in 2022. And to help us do this and champion Co-op’s vision, Co-operating for a fairer world, we’ve been hard at work creating our next Three-Year Plan. 

Launching later this year, it’ll be our guide for strengthening our contribution, effectiveness and impact in supporting Co-op in engaging members on our difference and values. 

As someone who started their membership journey with Join In opportunities, I’m excited to see participation taking centre stage. It’s crucial for tackling big societal issues together, but we know that inequalities still exist all around us. 

We want to see our Co-op growing a more diverse membership to solve them and we’ve been exploring changes to our own ways of working, culture and communications to become a more inclusive Members’ Council.

I love everything about our Co-op. Through my roles on Council and in my community, I’ve seen first-hand how we can make a difference and our democracy is at the core of it all. If you want to do more with the business you own and earned 500 membership points in 2021, you’re eligible to stand for election to Council* – nominations close at midday on 25 February. Council Members are elected every year as part of our Annual General Meeting (AGM).

*For 2022, we have colleague vacancies in the following constituencies:

• Cymru/Wales 

• London 

• North West 

• Scotland 

• South West 

• West Midlands 

• Yorkshire and the Humber