700 words approx. 3-4 minutes to read

Dear Co-op members and customers

I’ve never known anything like what we’re experiencing right now. I know you’ll be as worried as I am about the health of your loved ones and the livelihoods of those around you. The Co-op’s got a critical role to play in supporting our members, customers, and colleagues as well as local communities across the country. My heartfelt commitment to you is that we will work through this, together, in the most co-operative, responsible and compassionate way we can – just as you would expect us to. While I don’t have all the answers and the information we’re getting is changing as fast as I can type this note, I wanted to let you know how we’re responding.

Our food stores

In our food stores we’re working round the clock to make sure our shops remain stocked. You’ll have heard the request from the Government not to panic buy. I know you’ll be thinking of your friends and family as you shop, as well as yourself, but please shop normally so there’s enough for everyone all of the time.

We’re also going to do everything we can to make sure our most vulnerable customers get the food they need and we’re looking at a few different options to make this happen.

It’s not just customers in our food stores we’re thinking about either. We know that for many children who get free school meals, lunch is the main meal of the day, so if school closes unexpectedly there’s a risk they go hungry. We can’t let this happen.

So, we’re stepping in and giving 6,500 students that have free school meals at our 25 Co-op Academy schools a £20 voucher for every week of unplanned closure. This can be spent in any Co-op food store. But it’s a drop in the ocean when you consider there are 1.4 million kids on free school meals in this country. So that’s why today, I’ve also asked the Government to lead a nationwide effort to make sure no child goes hungry just because they can’t go to school.

Our Funeral homes

Our funeral care teams also have an extraordinary role to play. We’re calling on the Government for support because our whole industry is going to be turned upside down by this crisis and we need a joined up approach. In the meantime, our colleagues do difficult work with utmost care and compassion, and no matter how they’re challenged in these coming months, I know that won’t change.

Co-op Health

You’ll likely already know friends and family members who are self-isolating at the moment. I know this will be hugely difficult for everyone but particularly if you have an existing condition that requires a repeat prescription. If you do, then please make use of our Co-op Health app where we can arrange delivery of your prescriptions, free of charge, across England. Unfortunately, we haven’t got connectivity for the rest of the UK just yet but we’re working on it.

Supporting your community

I’m sure you already know, but at the Co-op we passionately care about communities. And right now, community is everything! So we’re urgently and carefully looking at how we can use everything we’ve got to help – from our 700 Member Pioneer colleagues, to our local community fund, to our partnership on mental wellbeing with MIND, SAMH & Inspire. We’re also working on a new online platform called ‘Co-operate’ which connects people to local support and information. I can’t think of a time when this kind of tool has been more needed and so we’re pulling out all the stops to build it faster and get it to more communities.

Right now my teams are working out the best way for us to help, practically and financially, where we’re most needed. Colleagues right across the business are working exceptionally hard, while caring for themselves and their families too. I’ve never been prouder of them or more grateful for their commitment.

These are exceptional times but I promise that we’re here for you and we’ll work to support each other through this.

Take care
Steve

Steve Murrells
Co-op CEO

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Join the conversation! 178 Comments

  1. Sorry to hear this. Please contact our customer care team online here – https://coop.uk/2yNZQqN ^Cat

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  2. We’ve invested £3m on new protective equipment for our store colleagues. We’re installing thousands of protective screens along with supplying gloves and hand sanitiser for our frontline colleagues. Find out more: https://coop.uk/3aTUKaB ^Cat

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    • What will the hand sanitisation for customers I heard mentioned in store yesterday look like?
      When are they coming?

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  3. Co op Swanhurst B13 0AW baskets just thrown out no cleaning no wipes no disinfecting yet the workers wear masks lol

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  4. Coop is way behind other stores for social distancing do not feel safe in your stores won’t be shopping there again

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    • This isn’t my experience – As one of the thousands of temporary workers just drafted in, I have already spent several hours standing outside my coop, controlling a maximum of ten in the store at any one time, prioritising old folk and those with disabilities. And, my branch is a small one in Brighton.
      Also, screens are now up, tape on the floor, hand wash on tills and in the back. And, I have started wiping down trolley handles as well.

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  5. Your company is doing nothing to protect your staff and lower the risk of spreading this life threatening virus!!! It’s shocking!!!! No social distancing rules for customers or limitations on the number of people within the small confinements of your stores. Customers are at significant risk as well. You’ve not even increased the amount of hours clean your stores!! I have never been so horrified in a company. Many other retail companies are putting yours to shame.

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  6. Can I still put my lottery numbers on at my local store ?

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  7. Granted Cooperative Society cares for Third world, Fair Trade etc. How about the staff in your stores ? My local has no Perspex screen, as Spar and others do. They do not wear masks or gloves. Presumably tgey trek out to the store room to wash their hands occasionally. And the pretty lines and arrows are drawn all over the narrow aisles and 6 feet from the counter, making it extremely difficult to pack bags or pay the bill. This could all be simplified with a Perspex sheet between server and customer. Come on, Coop, show you care about your own people.

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  8. Why is my local store not accepting cash? Not everyone has access to debit or credit cards and some elderly people only like using real money not cards.
    They could make the self serve tills cash only then that way the staff don’t have to handle any.
    Most shops are advising to use card where possible (but will still accept cash) but banning cash altogether is wrong. I understand you want to protect your staff but this is taking it to a level where people won’t be able to get any shopping.
    I see that the staff are wearing gloves so why can’t they handle money??

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  9. Why have you removed my comment

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  10. Provide face mask for your staff please .

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  11. Please advise your staff to practice social or physical distancing from their colleagues and not only from the customers . As I shopped I observed that the staff were not complying to this rule with their colleagues.

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  12. Local store pitshanger Ealing has been seriously under stocked for nearly 3 weeks now the lorry keeps turning up but not much seems to arrive on the shelves ! Staff are not taking the social distancing seriously no checks on numbers of customers going into the store and it never seems to be cleaned…. ?

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  13. What is the situation with fully paid up Co-op funeral plans if a customer has a Plan and dies from coronavirus illness and the body is not released to family making the plan outstanding. Are the family given a refund? Can the plan be passed on to another member of the family? Answer please.

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  14. This information is of limited use for people of whom English is not a first language. There are too many words where letters have been omitted and an apostrophe has been substituted leaving many people having to guess what a word is supposed to mean, and which and why letters are missing !

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  15. What is the point of this Blog? It seems like a tick box to demonstrate togetherness when not one reply has been given by the cooperative. Colleagues and members questions not view go unanswered. Shame on this poor practice.

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  16. Seahouses store serves our community and the staff are doing an amazing job but I was disappointed to see 3 women emerge from the store this afternoon (obviously visitors due to the suitcase in the back seat of their Audi) with a trolley piled high with groceries. Wrong, wrong wrong on so many levels.
    Please co op management realise that the rest of us with vested business interests in the village that are now closed down are doing our bit to make sure the village stays free of this terrible virus.

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  17. I have also raised a question ref. the 20% colleague discount which is due on pay day in April 2020. How is this encouragement to spend on Co-op only products compatible with the request not to stockpile? Ie would seem unreasonable to buy 6 chickens for the month if other may go short. Maybe the discount at more regular intervals in addition to a bonus payment – bearing in mind the extra sales volume, stress inflicted in the absence of proper equipment / screens, etc – noting this state of affairs is likely with us for another 18-24 months until UKcommunity based testing has been completed

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  18. I sincerely appreciate that this is a busy time for everyone – from the shop floor staff and the social media team, to seniors in head office and delivery depots etc, and this may seem largely unimportant, but what news can you give (if any) about potential bonuses or increase in pay that staff may receive for working during this pandemic? Many other retailers have already announced incentives for their staff during this difficult time – this question has been asked many times on Co-op social media and has largely been ignored.

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  19. Please advice your staff to observe physical distances from their colleagues . And provide them with hand sanitiser . And also if you could provide hand sanitiser for the customers at the entrance of the shop . Thank you very much.

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    • Also only let a few people in the shop at a time especially the smaller shops. Please put a person in PPE at the door to administer this. Full PPE for staff in the shop too. It’s safety first.

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      • Store in Yeovil St Michael’s Avenue is restricting movements of customers although this depends on availability of staff to police door entrance. Vegetable crates prevent people from getting too close to tills.

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  20. staff safety is a number one priority yet we still have to accept cash to avoid customer complaints
    it doesn’t add up

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  21. No gloves! one bottle of sanitizer for a whole shop of staff none for customer use, it’s just not good enough, and now you tell us to get creative and use nappy sacks/ produce bags or freezer bags instead of gloves it’s disgusting. If that’s making your staff a priority then it’s a pathetic attempt. these should have given to stores before even letting them face the public, shame on you

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    • I agree, we need gloves, perspex screens & plenty of hand sanitiser, safe distancing & sanitising baskets & surfaces also should not have to handle people’s co op cards they should be able to scan their own cards

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    • That’s disgusting. PPE should be available for everyone. It should be the responsibility of the manager of the shop to make sure you get your gloves and good ones at that. I hope it gets sorted for you. It should be staff before profit.

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      • Hi, We’ve invested £3m on new protective equipment for our store colleagues. We’re installing thousands of protective screens along with supplying gloves and hand sanitiser for our frontline colleagues. Find out more: coop.co.uk/coronavirus#coronavirus_our_colleagues_section ^Cat

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    • Hi, We’ve invested £3m on new protective equipment for our store colleagues. We’re installing thousands of protective screens along with supplying gloves and hand sanitiser for our frontline colleagues. Find out more: coop.co.uk/coronavirus#coronavirus_our_colleagues_section ^Cat

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Co-op Leaders' Blogs, Steve's Blog