Published 23 Mar 2020
Update as of 23/03/20
With the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) the safety and well-being of our colleagues, members and customers is our number one priority – and will remain so throughout the outbreak.
All our trading Groups have taken appropriate measures to help colleagues, members and customers, including arrangements for
- increased cleaning across all our operations.
- increased colleague hand washing
- implementing social distancing throughout our outlets
- limiting contact at pay points
In an ever-changing situation, the measures we are taking are reviewed on a daily basis and we would ask for your help in complying with the requests that we make, particularly in ensuring appropriate social distance whilst in any of our outlets.
We are constantly reviewing the operations of our Food stores, Funeral homes, Childcare nurseries and Community pharmacies to ensure they remain open to serve our local communities wherever we can. There may however be times when we do need to temporarily change some of our opening hours at some of these sites. Whilst we will do all we can do minimise this, you will find any changes that we have had to make here.
Clearly things are changing for all of us on a daily basis, and we continue to plan and react to this. I’d like to share with you some of these changes that we’ve made over the last few days.
You’ll know that one of our main strengths for a long time now has been the support we offer local farmers and suppliers where possible, enabling us to offer our customers the best quality local food and drink. These suppliers have been absolutely essential for us in recent days, helping us to offer additional types of product and availability of some key lines to complement our normal ranges. I’d like to offer my personal thanks to them for that on behalf of all of us.
Our Travel team has been supporting up to 1,000 queries a day from customers and members providing guidance, support and assisting them in rearranging travel plans where needed. We have now taken the decision to centralise this operation to help us to better manage the volume and continuity of these enquiries, while also enabling us to deploy scores of colleagues to support our food stores and ensure that we are continuing to provide vital goods to our communities during a period of unprecedented demand.
All our Childcare nurseries remain open wherever possible, and we have taken many additional steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the children, our colleagues and parents arriving at the nursery. The Government has now published a list of critical roles where childcare provision will continue to be provided if needed. Provision will also continue to be provided for those classed as ‘vulnerable’. We will remain open to provide a service to those – whether for existing parents or new ones. We’re also looking at extending the offering we can make to help members and parents over the coming weeks. If you require childcare provision from any of our nurseries, or know people in critical roles that do then please contact us at email@example.com. Where parents are not eligible to access childcare provision under the current Bill or choose to keep their children at home to care in isolation, we have committed to suspending fees charged from 1st April, and have informed parents of this.
You may have heard about our fast-track recruitment drive across Food, Funeral and Pharmacy. We know there are many individuals who are facing times of anxiety around their employment and we are taking the opportunity where we can to offer temporary roles with the Society. We have streamlined our recruitment processes to deal with this, and are able for successful candidates to start with us in a matter of days after making contact. If you know any individuals looking for short term work or any companies looking to redeploy their staff please ask them to email their details (including CV if they have one) to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am also committed to ensuring that we are helping those most in need at this difficult time. Providing product donations and volunteering support for food banks is needed now more than ever. Our customers and members can donate in all our food stores and we would ask you to consider doing that. We would also urge you to consider volunteering to help with local food banks, to find out more about volunteering at the Trussell Trust, click here.
I want to say thank you to you as our members and colleagues for the support that so many of you are giving to help your local community – whether volunteering to help those with their shopping or working with local community groups to help others in need.
I’m also incredibly grateful for the way our colleagues across the Society have responded to ensure that you, our members and customers, still receive the best possible service during difficult times. The thanks and praise that you are giving our colleagues in-store at this time do make such a difference to us all. I’ve had many comments from members with really good feedback and ideas as to how to help. Many of these have been implemented as you’d have seen or read about above.
As a fellow co-operator, it is a small measure of comfort that the solution so many have turned to in recent days is completely in line with co-operatives and co-operators across the world, in particular, the values of social responsibility and caring for others, that are needed now, more than ever.
To keep up to date with the latest government advice please click here.
Phil Ponsonby, Group CEO