Co-op Community Cares Fund launched today

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The East of England Co-op has today launched its Community Cares Fund, which could see its members donate up to £2.1 million to groups and services in-need across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

Each year, the East of England Co-op pays a share of its profits to its members in the form of a dividend. The total dividend to be shared amongst 140,000 eligible members this year is a massive £2.1M - over 40% of the East of England Co-op’s profits available for distribution for the last financial year. 

With this year’s dividend, the East of England Co-op is encouraging its members to donate some or all of their dividend to the newly created East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund. 

Niall O’Keeffe, Joint Chief Executive of the East of England Co-op, said: “The Coronavirus outbreak is the most significant challenge that we’ve faced for a generation. 

“Our Co-op was founded over 150 years ago to provide good, honest, affordable food for the masses. Having supported our communities through two World Wars, our members and colleagues have always shown great resilience and kindness throughout our history, as they are in the current crisis. 

“As a co-operative we have a unique model where our members own our co-op and are rewarded with a dividend based on their participation in our success. We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from our members for keeping the region fed and cared for during the crisis. Today, we are giving our members the chance to give a little back to our community as we come together to fight this enemy.”

The East of England Co-op is working with a number of local partners, who have the established networks and knowledge, to disseminate the funding generated to those most in need. 

To kick-start the Fund, the East of England Co-op have today pledged to donate over £150,000. This follows a £75,000 donation made earlier this month, (shared amongst local foodbanks, Age UK and Community Foundations for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex), bringing the total directly donated by the retailer to over £230,000.  

This is one of several initiatives currently being undertaken by the local independent retailer to support their communities and colleagues, which include:  

  • The introduction of a 10% discount off all Food store purchases for NHS workers and Carers 
  • Supporting the NHS Charities Together, COVID-19 Urgent Appeal Fund with an in-store collection (target £50,000)
  • Saying thank you to all East of England Co-op colleagues for their tireless work to keep supporting the community with an additional week’s pay - worth over £1 million – paid today (Thursday 30 April)

Niall continued: “This is a significant package of investment which will help support our communities and say thank you to our remarkable colleagues for their exceptional hard work during the crisis. 

“Everyone in our co-op has been affected by the changes wrought by Coronavirus. From an unprecedented level of demand for supplies and services, to adapting to working remotely our colleagues have reacted quickly, professionally and with real stoicism. 

“From our Food store, Forecourt and Post Office colleagues working to keep our stores open and stocked, our Travel teams supporting customers with their travel plans changing, our Property team working with our tenants and our Funeral teams continuing to provide high standards of care and service to families in these difficult times, it truly is a co-operative effort.” 

Details on how to donate to the fund will be issued to all eligible East of England Co-op members alongside their dividend cheques, which will arrive in June.