We’re helping people in our community to thrive
At The Southern Co-operative, we are not just a business but a part of every community in which we trade. We are therefore committed to making a positive difference to our communities across the south of England, through active and genuine involvement. Working in partnership with organisations who share our values and goals we can help to tackle the issues that really matter to our local communities.
In 2016, The Southern Co-operative launched a refreshed new community programme; ‘Love your Neighbourhood’, which builds upon our history of supporting local groups and replaces our community support scheme that’s been running for 10 years. This should increase the positive impact and difference we make to our communities, reinforcing all three of our sustainability priorities to SHARE, PROTECT and SUPPORT.
The new programme includes (click to go to section):
- In-kind donations
- Cash donations (£50-£1000)
- Local fundraising partnerships
- Local volunteering
- Foodbank collection points
- Community defibrillators
Each store and funeral branch across our estate in southern England is able to choose its own fundraising partner. Income from the plastic carrier bag 5p levy (excluding VAT) will also be donated back to local communities through this scheme.
Despite it being a challenging year for our business, colleagues volunteered 4,700 hours, a slight decrease on 2013. Evaluating the impact of volunteering on colleague morale, self-confidence and skills development means this can also contribute to colleagues‟ personal and business development. Approximately 5% of colleagues take part in volunteering, with support for social welfare, education, arts and culture and environmental activities being most popular, reaffirming our support for charities such as the Wildlife Trusts and local food banks.
Helping to tackle important community issues
Food poverty remains a key issue for our members and communities. In response, we have increased our support for Food Banks, working with 17 different food banks (compared with 3 in the previous year) with collection points in 32 food stores and 8 funeral homes. We will continue to develop our approach looking at ways to support organisations who tackle the root causes of food poverty.
Community alcohol-related harm
The practice of ‘proxy purchasing’ – where parents, friends or older siblings purchase alcohol from off-licences to give to under-18s, is a particular concern in our communities. The Southern Co-operative has been involved in an initiative with Portsmouth City Council, called ‘ProxyWatch’ – the first of its type in the UK. This delivers a 24-hour hotline for members of the public and shop staff to report incidences of proxy-purchasing. An important part of this campaign was raising awareness of the issue among retailers, which has helped see the test-purchase failure rate for alcohol and tobacco within the city fall significantly.
Bereavement education and support
Through the Bereavement Centre’s support and education service, we have supported, cared for and educated thousands of people through:
- Educational study days and bereavement workshops
- Local support, friendship and social groups
- One-to-one bereavement support
- Memorial services held throughout the year
- Major bereavement seminars and conferences.
The centre is open to everyone, even if they have not used our services for the funeral. It helps people who have lost loved ones in the transitional period following a funeral, which can be the most difficult time of their life.
Click here to visit our dedicated Funeralcare website.
Making healthy and sustainable living easier
As signatories to the government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, we are working to making healthy and sustainable living easier for our colleagues and customers.
We have signed up to 15 pledges covering alcohol, food, health at work and physical activity.
The Create and Cook partnership with Fit2Cook Education continued to engage local school children throughout the year. The competition is open to all 12-14 year olds in secondary schools in Hampshire, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight. 2015 will see the competition extended to East Sussex.
We have also funded a new South Downs Food website which will act as a promotional and educational tool to signpost residents and visitors to the National Park region making it easier for people to seek out local food and drink, and provide a means to connect the local food and drink business community.