Lets Talk and other matters

Meeting our members.

It's always good to meet up with members and hear from them on how the Co-op is doing. It’s also a good chance for them to question Council members, Board Directors and Executives. I was really looking forward to the Bristol meeting, over 100 members had booked, which is a reasonable number. Not brilliant, but in today’s world of fast technology, Skype, WhatsApp, Twitter (follow me@ harriotts44) and Snapchat, the fact that 100 members wanted to come out for a day and sit and participate in a meeting made giving up my Saturday worthwhile.

Engagement Team
Despite a fantastic venue, only 50 members turned up, but we were a merry band of travellers. We had Julian Rickman, the Regional Food Manager and four of his colleagues, three local colleagues from a great community store in Gloucester Road, representatives from Funerals and the Young Members Board, plus Matt Howells the CEO from Co-op Legal Services. All supported by the local and attractive members of our Co-operative Engagement team.

Before the meeting there was an opportunity for members to talk to our Charity partner, the British Red Cross, Co-op Funeralcare and an opportunity at our taste and tell stand to try our Truly Irresistible Carrot Cake ( which by the way, it is)
The meeting was in three parts, twenty minutes was spent on video clips, outlying the national business performance.  An hour and a half on questions from the floor and then fifteen minutes receiving a fantastic update from Ruth and Simon about the great community work our local member’s forum had undertaken.

Ruth from our local CLF
What I love about these meeting is that they are a chance to put any question to the panel.  The questions covered many issues such as Fairtrade, Fair Tax Mark, Co-operative Party, animal welfare, politics, gender representation, a plethora of questions around the food business and a lot else beside. It was good to see so many questions being asked and answered in such a positive way. Co-operation at its best.

My only concern was the small number of members that attended.  I think the advertising of the meetings might have been more effective, but in my experience there is a general decline in people attending these “traditional” events.  Perhaps we need to reach out in different ways to engage with our members. A thought to ponder.  Your views and comments would be helpful.

One of the more frequent comments I hear from members, is that the  Co-op does so many great things but we don’t shout about it.  In my last blog, I mentioned that I would root around the Groups website for some golden nuggets of interesting news. The thing that struck me was the wealth of information that we have across multiple pages. 

So for starters, if you want to know what inspired me  (and keeps me inspired) to become involved with the Co-op, you need to look no further than the 2014 Sustainability report.  This is a detailed examination of our achievements (and some not yet achieved) in 2014.  Have a look by clicking here.  Or download the entire report by visiting the download page here

Alongside the sustainability report its worth reading the annual results for 2014.  We had a rough year but what impresses me is that despite a difficult set of financials we achieved so much with our sustainability efforts.  The annual report is here, 2015 will be shortly published, and I expect a whole blog just on that topic.

Three more pages worth bookmarking are the press page, where the latest co-op press releases are to be found. A good page to understand our governance can be found here, the Council page is here, and if you want to understand what membership means, click here.

The brilliant work our Young members Board is doing can be discovered here.

I am impressed that so much is on the website. I know that Mike Bracken our IT guru is looking at how we can transform the Co-op is to a world class digital organisation.  His blog can be accessed by clicking here, and the Co-op digital teams blog is here.

My next meeting in sunny Manchester is in April, when the Council turns its attention to all things financial.  I look forward to giving you the highlights in April Until then have a good Co-op Easter.



  1. The South East members meeting had about 40 bums on seats, but after subtracting presenters, council members, staff etc. there were just about 8 'non-office holding' members.


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