‘Our founder would be proud of the record amounts we are handing to community groups’ says Tamworth Co-op chief

Thursday, 21st February 2019

TAMWORTH Co-operative Society handed out a record £37,000 to local groups during 2018 and will start giving away more cash in the spring when 13 good causes will benefit from its Community Dividend Fund.

Chief executive Julian Coles says he was delighted by last year’s total which came from three separate initiatives.

Julian Coles, chief executive of Tamworth Co-operative Society.

Julian Coles, chief executive of Tamworth Co-operative Society.

“We introduced the Community Dividend Fund nearly a decade ago and it is now a well-established scheme, not just in the town but the surrounding areas too.

“Each year our 11 convenience stores, plus our town centre supermarket and main department store are paired with separate worthy causes. Shoppers who visit the branches can then choose to donate the dividend they earn from their purchases to the particular cause supported by the store. It is a classic case of money being raised in the community – by the community – for the community. Last year we distributed £10,000 from the fund.

“More recently, we launched our Cash in the Bag scheme, giving out £26,000 in the same year to 16 organisations, including schools, churches, conservation groups, scouts and guides. The money is raised from the 5p charge the Government imposed on the sale of carrier bags in 2015.

“Hundreds of people again attended our popular Christmas Memorial Service and around £1,000 was put in the collection plates. We divided this amount between the Alzheimer’s Society and St Editha’s Church.”

Supporting the local community has been a key principle of the Society since it was founded in Tamworth in 1886. It has always been associated with giving back to the area it serves and remains an integral part of the community.

Our founder would be proud of the record amounts we are handing to community groups

Chief executive Julian Coles
Julie Clark, manager of Tamworth Co-op supermarket, presents the Community Dividend Fund cheque to Ken Hughes, chairman of Tame Community First Responders. Looking on are (l-r): Keith Dawson, the group’s co-ordinator, Sue Dawson, a trustee of the charity, and Tame first responders Stephanie Mirza and Rachael Coffey

Tamworth’s emergency first responder team received the largest amount from Tamworth Co-op’s Community Dividend Fund last year. Tame Community First Responders was teamed with the Tamworth Co-op supermarket in Church Street. Manager Julie Clark is pictured handing over a cheque to the lifesavers for £1,765.

“I’m sure that our founder William MacGregor would be proud that his legacy of philanthropy is continuing to this day,” said Mr Coles. “We are proud of the difference we make to so many worthwhile groups and the increased amounts of money we are able to donate.”

He added that while the co-operative is widely known to be an ethical business, many people still fail to appreciate that it is an entirely local and independent organisation.

“Often, we are mistakenly thought of as part of a national chain, but in fact there isn’t just one huge Co-op group. There are currently 15 separate co-operatives in the whole of the country which are members of Co-operatives UK. Many of these are large regional bodies that have grown out of smaller, originally independent societies.

“By contrast, the Tamworth society is one of the few last remaining, truly independent Co-ops in the country. Its administrative offices are still in Tamworth and it is run for and by local people. We are a Tamworth business, in every sense of the word.”