Helping hands from The Co-operative as it commits one million hours to community volunteering

October 15, 2012

A wave of helping hands is set to sweep across communities as The Co-operative launches a new programme creating a community taskforce with up to one million hours of employee volunteering.

The Co-operative - which operates in every UK postal district – announced the move as part of its commitment to keeping communities thriving.

From raising levels of numeracy at primary schools to decorating homeless shelters, up to 100,000 staff from The Co-operative – whose businesses include Food, Financial Services, Funeralcare and Pharmacy – are offered up to two days per annum, during work time, to make a difference in their local community.

Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative’s Head of Community and Co-operative Investment, said: “The Co-operative is committed to providing the tools, skills and knowledge for people to co-operate and make a difference. This is an exciting development that will have a real impact, not only on individuals and communities but also on local economies and community-led regeneration.

“The development of the scheme is also driven by employees who benefit from enhanced communication and team skills whilst supporting their wider community.

“We have a proven track record in taking a long-term approach with social responsibility and ethics at the heart of our business.The programme forms part of our Ethical Plan which sets a new benchmark for corporate sustainable development in the UK.”

To mark the announcement, more than a dozen activities will take place during the launch week including; support for a community farm in Newcastle upon Tyne; painting and garden maintenance at Hornimans Adventure Playground, London; a make-over for the Coresford School sensory garden, Glasgow and, the creation of a blind trail at St Mary’s CE Primary School near Stoke-on-Trent.

In addition to practical challenges, staff can participate in a range of activities including; helping primary and secondary school children to develop numeracy skills and greater financial capability; inspiring young people to consider futures in science, technology, engineering or maths or, using skills developed in the workplace to support charities that help local families in need.

Additional Information:

There is a phased roll out of the scheme offering its 101,073 employees two days (pro rata) during work time to make a difference in their community. The full time equivalent (FTE) of The Co-operative Group’s employee head count is 68,035. Multiplied by two days this equates to 136,070 days which, at 7.5 hours, is 1,020,525 hours.

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain’s largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas. The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn. 

Further information is available at

Contact Information:

Andrew Torr
The Co-operative Group Press office
Tel: 07702 505551