Community Owned, Community Led, Community Rewarding
What comes to mind when you think of a co-op? At a recent meeting, the answers I got were: Co-op Bank, Rochdale Pioneers, food, funerals and – sometimes – fundraising for charities. The media always tend to focus on the negative – bad news makes the headlines – and I guess that’s why the co-op doesn’t often feature in news stories – because most of what it does is good. Like Midcounties Co-operative winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in sustainable Development – praised for social, economic and environmental achievements, creating 2354 jobs, giving £11.9 million to local community groups in the past decade and distributing over £44 million in dividends to members.
Midcounties Co-operative is the biggest independent co-operative and has several food shops in Shropshire including Wem, Shawbury and Bicton Heath. Co-op food stores buy as a collective with Co-op Group in order to benefit from collective buying power, but they all buy a certain amount independently which means that they stock local products from small independent suppliers as well as brand names. So you can buy local wines and beers, cakes and pork pies in your local store.
Co-ops also support Fairtrade – paying a fair price for coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas – ensuring the small communities that supply these commodities get a fair amount for their products and their families have a decent standard of living – preventing profiteering businesses from taking advantage of their circumstances. You can meet the Fairtrade producers at www.growingstories.coop/producers
In co-op food stores you can find an endless selection of ethically sourced, honestly labelled, locally produced goods, giving you reassurance that the food you put on the table is some of the best you can buy, grown carefully, by producers who are paid properly for their work.
Midcounties Co-operative also supports the local community providing grants to help local volunteer groups and help where it is needed by colleagues who all have volunteer hours helping local groups with anything from decorating to gardening, and running events like the Churchstoke Fun Day which has been held at the Tuffins store on the Shropshire/Powys border for 20 years.
Held on the first Sunday in August each year, there are free stands for local artisans, in return for a donation from takings; in 2015, over 7,500 people took part in arts and crafts, learned basket weaving, enjoyed donkey rides, helicopter flights and all the fun of the fair and raised over £56,000 for local charities.
Midcounties offers several community services including childcare, funeral homes, travel, online healthcare and Co-op Energy – sourcing sustainable energy wherever possible from community energy producers.
Find out more at www.midcounties.coop where you can join online or visit your local Midcounties store.