The Midcounties Co-operative is celebrating after receiving a nationally recognised standard of excellence for its wide ranging community work at a special reception at the House of Lords.
Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector presented the CommunityMark to Maxine Sharman, Midcounties Senior Community Co-ordinator, at the Business in the Community event.
The society is one of just nine organisations to attain the CommunityMark in 2009. Each are exemplars of best practice for the way they have invested in communities through corporate giving and fundraising, pro-bono and employee volunteering time, in-kind support and commercial initiatives.
Midcounties was recognised in particular for its work on social issues concerning the environment, education, social inclusion and health.
Maxine Sharman said: “We are delighted and immensely proud to achieve the CommunityMark which recognises the commitment we have throughout our business to support our local communities. It is something we truly believe in.
“As a co-operative business, social responsibility is at the heart of what we do, giving something back and putting our co-operative values and principles into action.
“We not only return a percentage of our profits to the communities we serve, we invest our time and skills too by encouraging our 7,800 colleagues to get involved in community fundraising and volunteering events and to engage with our campaigns.”
In 2008 Midcounties provided £131,000 in community grants and supported over 260 individual organisations. Colleagues accessed a further £7,000 for projects they were personally involved with and branch managers allocated £20,000 for goods for community groups and raffle prizes. Colleagues gave practical help to local projects and clocked up 22,365 volunteer hours during work time.
Midcounties’ wide ranging community work includes an eco-drive in primary schools, with the help of its Peter Penguin character, to encourage children to be ‘green’ and to remember the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle.
Its support for education has been evident too in backing the Sutherland Business and Enterprise College in Trench, Telford – one of the first in the country to adopt a co-operative model of working.
To achieve the CommunityMark, companies are assessed according to five principles of community investment through a rigorous, independent process. A total of 29 companies have now achieved the standard.
Stephen Howard, chief executive, Business in the Community, said: “Investing in communities is integral to commercial success in any economic climate, bringing long-term sustainable benefits to both business and communities.
“Business in the Community is thrilled to celebrate with our nine CommunityMark achievers, who have demonstrated their sustained commitment.”