550 words. 2.5 mins to read.  

From communities to customers, people are at the beating heart of our Co-op and its one of the reasons why I, along with many other colleagues love our jobs in retail. You always have your regulars who always do their best to make your shift happy. And the support we’ve seen during and after lockdown has been so wonderful, with so many thank you cards saying what a great job we have been doing.  

But there is a flipside. Working with the public isn’t always easy. Last year there were over 212,000 crime incidents at Co-op stores. As a store manager, I’ve experienced multiple robberies which were all very harrowing, where we were threatened and pushed. I’ve had to reassure my colleagues and help them recover – and give them the confidence to carry on. Fortunately, we get regular training which reminds us of our responsibility to protect ourselves and our customers. Co-op has always told us that our lives are more important than stock or money.  

Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities 

I’m not alone in these experiences. Nobody deserves to be on the receiving end of threatening or abusive behaviour whilst doing their job. This is why I’m a big supporter of Co-op’s Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign. I’m proud to see them invest £140m in protective measures for 58,000 of our Co-op colleagues. Our very own Jo Whitfield has led the business sector bringing together the CEOs of 22 other British retailers and industry partners to ask the prime minister to back Alex Norris MP’s Assaults on Retail Workers Bill, which would provide greater legal protection for our colleagues in the face of ever-growing levels of violence. 

‘We want the government to do its bit in introducing legislation that will make shop workers feel safer when they go to work.’ 

Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op food

Together against hate 

It’s also why I was happy to feature in a new advert featuring on Channel 4. I was proud to step up and represent our 58,000 frontline Co-op colleagues to be in the advert alongside Nationwide and Network Rail. Watch the advert here: 

Our jobs have become a lot more challenging now. We are protecting our communities by keeping our stores open, but we need to make sure everyone is as safe as possible. It’s a lot tougher – we’re told to encourage but not enforce restrictions. But, sometimes, even encouragement can lead a customer to become abusive towards us. The virus has taken its toll on society, with people getting rowdier than usual. Many have lost their jobs or are struggling with mental wellbeing. But this isn’t a retail problem, it’s a societal one, and it needs to be dealt with from the top down. The only thing we can do is look after one another in our stores – and invest time and resources into our communities. We are part of wider society as much as our customers are – so it’s a joint effort. 

I’m proud to be in the ad – not because I’m going to be on TV, but because I’m lending my voice to make a change in society. And that’s the most powerful thing you can do as an individual – do your best for the community you serve. 

Maruf Choudhury, 
Store manager, Co-op Chalfont St Giles 

Read more about our Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign:  

Join the conversation! 3 Comments



  2. Couldn’t agree more! ^Kay

  3. Absolutely about time that all retail workers are valued and respected.


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