The National Members’ Council was back together in Manchester on 30 November for an early Christmas and our last meeting of 2019. It’s been a great year of collaboration and representation, making sure our members and communities are having their say to shape a Co-op we can all be proud of. Ending on a high, we also confirmed the appointment of our new Council Secretary, Andy Seddon.
At our November meeting, we then got into the Christmas spirit with a strategic board game to map out what areas we would prioritise to introduce new ways of co-operating, putting people and the planet first and developing a more meaningful membership. To introduce the the session, our Co-op Chair, Allan Leighton, and Chief Executive, Steve Murrells, started off our day together with an update on what’s been happening around our businesses to set the scene for the future. Allan shared that we’re in a good place across our businesses, despite being in a tough market, so it’s a good time to reshape our Funeralcare strategy and become the front runners in areas where our co-op difference can shine. We’ve taken big strides forward with our Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign to offer the best protection and safety for our employees and customers but there’s more to be done on pay and keeping colleague engagement and enjoyment moving in the right direction. Allan also updated us on the positive year all co-operatives have had by working with the Federal Retail Trading Services (FRTS) to share success, helping us all to feel truly aligned.
Going forward, Allan said that our focus will be on making more progress in developing a meaningful membership and movement, uniting people who believe in co-operation for a fairer world, are passionate about making a difference and want to have an active role in our Co-op. Building on this, Steve then shared some of our latest achievements. With a particular focus on communities, our Big Payout Bus recently completed a personalised giving tour around the UK, donating an incredible £17m from Co-op Members to our local causes. Helping us to continue connecting people and inspiring co-operation, Steve also let us know that we now have 601 Member Pioneers in place nationwide. With our input on priorities, the Board will now start to develop our future vision further as a plan for pushing us forward and helping us to stay true to our roots.
It’s always great to open up the floor at Council meetings for questions to some of our directors. Some of our Committee Council Members also fed in questions from Co-op Members as part of a recent Join in opportunity, which was a great way to get them involved at the heart of our business. From our Board of Directors, we were joined by Hazel Blears, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, Sir Christopher Kelly, Paul Chandler and Margaret Casely-Hayford. Questions asked were on the topics of: membership, zero waste, Co-op Insurance, trading with other co-ops and Funeralcare in Northern Ireland
Funeralcare with Sam Tyrer, Alison Close and Rachel Woodman
Joining us for her first time at a Council meeting in her new role, Sam Tyrer, Funeralcare Managing Director, shared the latest on future plans for our Funeralcare business.Sam started by sharing that she was drawn to the Co-op because it offered her a chance to give something back in a really special market that’s going through a lot of change. Sam’s ambition is for the business to be a market leader that improves customer journeys, offers great affordability and enables colleagues to be the best they can be. To bring this ambition to life, our Funeralcare Director of Strategy, Rachel Woodman, and Chief Commercial Officer, Alison Close, said that we’re currently addressing challenges and reviewing customer needs to make sure that the future will offer more choice, value for money and personalisation. They were pleased to say that they have a really strong team working on this who are making good progress to understand where we can make changes and a real difference.I look forward to hearing more about how Funeralcare is helping people to celebrate the lives of their loved ones when we next meet with Sam and the team
Support for credit unions
Two of our Council Members, Frank Nelson and Sue Body, have been busy working on a paper around encouraging Co-op Members to use the Co-op Credit Union. The paper was approved by Council at our November meeting and we have asked the Board to consider what Co-op can do to support the Co-op Credit Union.
And finally... all the best for 2020