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Co-operative Awarded For Charity Partnerships


The UK’s largest community retailer, The Co-operative Group has been honoured with two prestigious awards for its pioneering charity partnership work, which focuses on young people, in this year’s Business Charity Awards.

The Group scooped both the Employment Award and Best UK Project Award at London’s Grosvenor House last week. The winning projects are prime examples of The Co-operative’s work to inspire young people to change their world for the better.

The Employment Award 2010 went to the retailer for its pioneering Making Opportunities scheme which was set up to ensure that it’s stores reflected the diverse nature of the communities in which it trades.

Through the programme, The Co-operative, working with the charity Mencap, introduces people with learning difficulties into paid employment, through the process of a work trial, which replaces the interview process.

Gwynneth Smedley, Regional Operations Director for The Co-operative Food, said: “By working with the charity Mencap we are engaging one of the most excluded groups of disabled people, providing them with the opportunity to reach their potential, gain meaningful work experience and employment, and contribute to society.

“There are currently over 1.3 million disabled people in the UK who are available for work and who want to work. Our Making Opportunities scheme is unique in that it offers guaranteed paid employment to people with learning difficulties on successful completion of a work trial. So far, 154 people have taken part in the work trial and 92 have been offered permanent employment within our Co-operative Food stores (80 of which are 25 or under).”

During the event, The Co-operative Group also received The Best UK Project Award for its Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers programme. The product of a close working relationship with national sports charity, StreetGames, the programme supports 16-25 year olds from the most deprived communities across England and Wales to develop their talents and abilities through sports volunteering in their local communities and is just one part of The Co-operative’s contributions towards corporate social responsibility.

Jane Ashworth, StreetGames Chief Executive, said: “To be awarded best UK project for our volunteering scheme is fantastic. Our partnership with The Co-operative has already helped over 1,400 young people gain valuable skills and qualifications. These volunteers have given over 34,000 hours of their time to help other young people from disadvantaged areas play sport.

“The Co-operative saw the potential this project had to change lives and communities. They, along with youth volunteering charity v, provided us with the support to make sure it happened. With their continued backing, we look forward to helping many more young people connect with their communities and become sports coaches of the future. Through this programme, we are aiming to recruit 3,000 young volunteers by 2012!”

Jessica Moore, Senior Community Manager for The Co-operative Group, said: “We are extremely proud to have won two Business Charity awards. As a co-operative business, local communities and young people are at the heart of the way we do business and by working in partnership with charities, to develop new and exciting projects, we can help those people who face adversity everyday to overcome and break down some of the barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.

“We are particularly proud that our winning projects have helped so many young people, who consistently face widespread negative attitudes from society. In times of economic uncertainty, these projects are even more valuable and we would like to see other businesses taking a more active role in helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve things which most of us take for granted.”

Notes to editors:

The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of £14 billion, employs 123,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets handling more than 20 million weekly transactions.

Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.

The Co-operative is the UK’s number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually, and is the UK’s largest farmer with strong involvement in a number of environmental initiatives too.

Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical and The Co-operative Legal Services


 The Co-operative Group
 Business Awards
 Charity Work

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