Three-month Africa volunteering trip beckons for Gorleston woman determined to ‘give back’

A Gorleston woman who has devoted her spare time to helping the local community is all set to embark on a ‘life-changing’ volunteering trip to Africa as part of a charity project.

Xena-Marie Jarmey, who is a member of the team at the Central England Co-operative Food Store in Bradwell, will be heading to the East African country of Tanzania in June to spend 11 weeks volunteering as part the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme with charity VSO International.

The 22-year-old has always enjoyed volunteering, including as a hospital mealtime assistant and at her local library managing their children’s summer reading challenge.

She is currently completing a team leader and supervisor qualification with the retailer and is keen to both utilise her business skills and develop them still further, while in Tanzania.

Xena-Marie said: “The trip is such an exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to get going. My base during the trip will be Iringa in Tanzania and I will be paired with local volunteers on a ‘livelihood project’, staying in the local community with a host family and learning about their culture.

“The particular project I’m on is a business-orientated programme so I might work with a local entrepreneur to help them to promote their business, be involved with education and training, financial management, branding and packaging and research among other things.

“It gives me the chance to use the business skills I have developed to benefit others, while also giving me a golden opportunity to develop my skills further. When I return home I hope to be able to use what I have learned to help improve my local community, as well as to continue to develop myself at Central England Co-op and become a better member of the team.”

Xena-Marie first caught the volunteering bug when she was at high school, taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme, which saw her and her group host a dementia friendly coffee morning and build a sensory garden at a local church.

She has also fully embraced Central England Co-op’s successful charity partnership with Dementia UK to do dementia-friendly training and become a ‘dementia friend’.

Xena-Marie added: “I have always enjoyed volunteering and helping in the community and that is why I believe Central England Co-op is a great fit for me as an employer as community is really at the heart of what we do.

“I appreciate how Central England Co-op takes pride and is fully committed to supporting our chosen charity. I really enjoyed doing the dementia friendly training and becoming a dementia friend.

“They also encourage staff to develop which is great for me as I am always looking for new ways to improve myself and develop my leadership skills.”


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 

It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.

Central England Co-operative has over 400 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.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2019.

Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.

Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing or visiting

For more information visit, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook:

Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390

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