Derby volunteer reveals what it is like to work in a Co-op shop during this uncertain time

A Derby co-operator has given an insight into what it like working in a Central England Co-op store after deciding to volunteer to ensure communities continue to have access to food and essentials.

Joanna West is a part of the Society’s Membership and Community Council and has been lending a hand in its community food store in Heatherton Village in Derby.

She has now spoken about supporting hard working colleagues and ensuring the local community continues to access to vital food and essentials.

She said: “When I was asked if I’d be happy to help support Central England Co-op during the current pandemic I happily said yes. 

“I’ve been on their Membership and Community Council for nearly a year, acting as an ambassador. Usually I can be found working in schools, talking about Fairtrade, and talking about the amazing work Co-op’s do every day.

“I’ve never been prouder to be part of the co-operative movement. I’m working with some brilliant store colleagues who are going above and beyond to make sure they can stay open, and that customers can stay safe. They’ve had to put up with some very difficult circumstances they’ve been incredible and kept very calm. The term retail heroes has never meant more and when someone referred to me as one I must confess it brought a tear to my eye. 

“I’ve spent the last four days at a lovely store at a Heatherton Village on the outskirts of Derby, assisting however I can. I’ve stocked shelves, scanned labels to display new products that have come in to replace the usual stock, cleaned fridge doors and shelves, and for the last two days I’ve been stationed on the front door cleaning baskets and trolley handles and asking customers to wait and be patient as we manage social distancing.

“I think giving people rules and limits has been generally well received and customers here have been brilliant! They’ve come to their local store, they’re glad to see colleagues they know who greet them with a smile, and they’re very happy to see most of the products they want are available.

“I’ll be here as long as I’m needed and will continue to work with a smile on my face, knowing I’m doing my bit to keep the local community going.”

Central England Co-op stores across Derbyshire are now being supported by volunteers like Joanna and over 500 temporary workers who have been taken on to support colleagues during this uncertain time.

The temporary roles on offer will include serving customers and replenishing stock. Three month rolling contracts are on offer and people must be flexible with shift patterns and locations. Ask in store for more details.

This is the latest in a range of measures Central England Co-op has put in place to support its communities at this uncertain time.
These include:

  • New hygiene, safety and social distancing measures in its stores to protect colleagues and customers
  • An urgent food bank appeal to support local charities and groups who have reported a fall in donations and rise in demand
  • Donations to FareShare Midlands and Dementia UK to allow them to continue their vital community services

People can keep up to date with what is happening in their local community by visiting a dedicated online hub at



Notes to editors

Picture caption: Joanna West volunteering at Heatherton Village Central England Co-op store.

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.


Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish. 


Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.


Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 


We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.


We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.


Visit for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood



Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle


Phone - 01543 421390


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