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! 205 Comments

  1. Hi there, the store belongs to the Central England Co-operative Society. There are a few Independent Societies across the UK. To make sure the store get the recognition they deserve, please reach out to them using the Facebook link below. Thanks ^Alice

    https://coop.uk/3hRst85

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  2. Credit where due the Co-op B13 0AW turned things around from the start of Covid . Great job staff and all. What you come to expect from a Co-op.

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  3. Hi there, yes we do accept cash 🙂 ^Hannah

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  4. Is cash accepted when paying?

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  5. Hi. Yes they are but we encourage card payments. Thanks. ^Jamie

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  6. Are all co-ops taking cash?

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  7. Hi Joe, colleagues are not asked to challenge customers who are not wearing face coverings. This will be clearly communicated through store signage, and it is the responsibility of all non-exempt customers to ensure they are in adherence with the new legal requirements. Thanks ^Cress

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  8. youro in South London are Notenforcing masks. Why?

    if yiu simply saud no mask no buy people would wear them you are dusgracefully igniring public health

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  9. Jay Mee your shops still shut and its past 6 am ewtf start opening normal hours we want normal times normal everything this plandemic is a hoak to force vaccinate the world!! stop being a part of the bs!

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  10. Why is it company policy to put employees, who are helping to shield an extremely vulnerable partner, on unpaid leave.

    Why not furlough them as per Government guidelines/advice?

    It’s not costing company anything.?

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  11. I realise that everyone’s main concern at the moment is Covid 19, but I’d be interested to have a Coop response to the longer-term comment I left on the Big Issue blog:

    BIG ISSUE
    APRIL 30, 2020 AT 8:48 AM
    Excellent and laudable approach by the Coop.
    I note that Parkrun is also being supported. This is how the Coop should operate…local and supportive.
    In this context, I found it strange that the Coop will not support the placing of defibrillators in its stores. Our local drama group bought a defibrillator and asked for our local Coop to house it. There was tremendous local management support but at the highest level of the Coop (the CEO) there was refusal to be involved.
    I find this lack of support, strange and still cannot understand the policy.
    Every other supermarket has defibrillators installed. And our local branch of Boots eventually came good, paying the costs of installation as well!
    Martin Hill
    Conwy, North Wales

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  12. My apologies for the errors regarding the wording. I hate predictive text and do not always look properly at it before submitting it. However my sentiments remain the same

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  13. Hi, just wanted to say, my local co-op in princess way, Burton onTrent. Have been amazing regarding keeping, customers and staff safe. They have continued to be thoughtful and caring. So I want to say a big Thank you to the staff and hope the get the recognition they deserve. However, I heard ace had a very mixed and very upsetting expert with the co-op regarding my father death and funeral arragements

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  14. So, our local food co op in Notte Street, Plymouth is exempt from safety measures? Went in on Friday 27th April, no sanitiser, wipes, monitoring of social distancing, or people entering. Very unsafe and I fled straight away. Phoned manager- reply: we can’t get hold of sanitiser etc. Yet other supermarkets in Plymouth are bending over backwards to promote safety. Just walked past this morning- 4 days later- no sanitiser, and 5 people entered close together- no monitoring at all. Nice company- no concerns for staff or customers- and by the way, this store is in one of the poorest areas of Plymouth, and selling milk 30% above the price of the other supermarkets. Emailed Murrells about this and of course no reply. So much for corporate circulars…

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  15. Nice to see coop are supporting communities etc but it would be good to give the same support to employees.My partner works in one of your stores and is having to go to work despite me been extremely clinically vulnerable having had a government letter to shield for 12 weeks.We also have his elderly dependant mother to
    care for which I cannot help with due to covid.He has only been offered unpaid leave or take holidays.Thought caring for dependants had been added to the furlough scheme.Better financial support would be appreciated for him to stay at home as any infection can cost our lives.

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    • Co op has a duty of care to their employees. They will soon find out after all this is back to normal when the ambulance chasing solicitors come a knocking. Did your company safe guard you in the Coronavirus pandemic. And co op did you ??

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  16. judging by the lack of response to these concerns there isn’t a cat in hells chance I’d trust my prescription being delivered so I’ll have to risk the journey to the pharmacy instead of self isolating

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  17. There is lots of useful information around but I am having trouble finding a reliable volunteer shopper in the clifton road runcorn area to deliver a food shopping delivery to a vunerable couple I know.I am 10 miles away and dont have a vehicle to drive otherwise I would do it myself.

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

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    • Who wrote the 2m or 6 foot keep your distance signs in your store at Earby?
      Surely everyone knows 6 foot is more like 1.8m and 2m is more like 6 foot 8 inch
      Just a thought

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  19. 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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    • That’s very good but why have you opened up the lottery terminals again. That’s encouraging people to come in for lottery tickets. When they can be brought on line. That’s not essential food. That is profit before staff. And against guidelines.

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  20. 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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  21. 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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      • Good for you Alex that’s the way to go, spot on . Wish you were running my local shop

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      • You are a lucky employee and must have a good manager who cares about their staff. I’ve heard of stores where the gloves have disappeared and no control on doors. It’s rubbish. What about the staff. Please get your act together. It is a matter of life and death. Individual store managers need to carry out the co ops national policy especially when giving out gloves. Not just one pair per shift. It’s criminal.

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

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  24. 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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  25. 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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    • Message being ignored, have messaged you on Facebook messenger and Ryan asked for more details but has not read the answer to his question.
      The store is still not accepting cash payments in a town which is full of OAP’s that predominantly use cash. This needs addressing, why are your staff making times harder for people at a already difficult time.

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  26. Why have you removed my comment

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    • Hello, we haven’t removed any comments, can I help? ^Scott

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      • When are yoit’s been a while no face mask given to the staff. In fact I shopped last time all I can workers don’t observed social distancing while you have this notice for everyone

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  27. Provide face mask for your staff please .

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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. 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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  38. 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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