This morning’s terrible news from the Finsbury Park Mosque has added to the sense of unease and uncertainty that has already descended on the nation this summer.
We’re still coming to terms with the terror attacks at the Manchester Arena and London Bridge; the numbers of missing, presumed dead, from the Grenfell fire has just risen again. And whatever our politics, there’s little doubt that the General Election result and the start of the Brexit negotiations adds to a current feeling of instability.
As a business that grew out of community adversity and that puts the need for strong communities at the heart of our thinking, I want to acknowledge the concerns of our Co-op members and the response of our colleagues to the troubling times we’re living through.
Nobody can prepare for this
This week our Funeralcare colleagues are on standby to support the community in North Kensington, once again in truly awful circumstances, just as they did at the Manchester Arena. No family should have to face bereavement like this and no colleague, however experienced, can prepare for the help that’s needed. I want to pass on my special thanks for all our Funeralcare colleagues are doing today and for the support they will offer to families over the coming weeks as events unfold.
Our colleagues in Food and Insurance responded without hesitation on the morning after the fire, and in the days since, to help those made destitute by Grenfell.
Our nearby stores are staying open 24 hours at the moment with colleagues from further afield helping out. Our Food stores in the wider area are collecting money donations and we’ve offered our Thurrock depot as a place to store furniture and clothing until they can be made use of by the residents. My thanks to our Food colleagues for once again showing how much you care.
Many other businesses in the area are offering help too. All of us have done exactly what we should, supporting the communities in which we trade.
The British Red Cross has told us that Co-op colleagues and members have so far given more than £50,000 for the victims of the Manchester terror attack. The money is already being distributed to the survivors and to the victims’ families who’ll be marked by the tragedy for the rest of their lives. The wider UK Solidarity Fund has now been set up by the British Red Cross and this includes support for the victims of today’s attack on the Muslim community. There’s a separate fund for Grenfell also being run by the BRC.
A new era
It feels like we are moving into a new era in Britain, an era in which communities are feeling under pressure and in some places ignored and particularly vulnerable. Our job as a Co-op, owned by our members and trading in every community in the UK, is to do all we can to strengthen communities. We’re doing that in many ways, including the support our members are giving to local community causes across the country.
We don’t claim to have the answer to all of society’s problems but we’re playing our part and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.
Thank you to all our colleagues directly involved in the most recent tragedies and for the concern and help being given by our members in so many ways across the country.
Co-op Group CEO