Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has welcomed a plan set out by the Co-op to create new opportunities and tackle inequalities across Scotland.
The Co-op has been working with the Purpose Coalition, founded by former Education Secretary Justine Greening, to produce their own Levelling Up Action Plan.
The plan puts the work of the Co-op under a microscope, and makes independent and challenging recommendations on where the organisation can go further.
Recommendations include a new Co-op scheme to make it easier for new recruits to move from education to employment through targeted work experience placements, covering costs for work experience, and targeted mentoring and training.
The organisation will also become a gold standard for pay gap tracking, introducing it across socio-economic, ethnicity, gender and disability reporting
In Na h-Eileanan an Iar, there are two Co-op food stores, and two Co-op Funeralcare Homes.
In 2021 the Co-op’s Local Community Fund provided more than £20m of funding to a range of community organisations.
In Na h-Eileanan an Iar, £76,779.40 in funding was received by local groups including Western Isles Community Care Forum, Barra Lifeboat Station and Tagsa Uibhist Horticulture Project.
The local MP attended an event in the House of Commons to mark the launch of the report, and to meet with Co-op members who are working to deliver help and support to those in need.
Attendees included volunteers who run Community Fridges with help and support from the Co-op, redistributing food which would otherwise go to waste, alongside other good causes supported by the Co-op.
Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, Member of Parliament for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said:
“Equality is the founding value of the Co-op.
“I am delighted to welcome this plan set out by the Co-op to tackle inequality and promote opportunity – as we recover from the legacy of COVID-19 and face the challenge of the rising cost of living, that has never been more important.”
Founded in 1844, the Co-op is one of the oldest of three million cooperative organisations worldwide.
With more than 4.2 million active members, it has a presence in almost every local community.
With 2p in every £1 of member spending going towards good causes, the Co-op was the truly first purpose-led organisation.
It champions a better way of doing business for individuals and communities through its products and services which aim to create value in its broadest sense.
Shirine Khoury-Haq, Co-op Group CEO said:
“It is vital that business and government work in partnership to unlock the talent that exists everywhere.
“We must ensure everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to succeed in a way that is right for them.
“I’m delighted that the impact the Co-op is already having in communities has been recognised in this report but we also know there is much more the Co-op, and other businesses, should do.
“I want the Co-op to be part of a movement for change and a catalyst for that change.
“That’s why we’re delighted to be working with This is Purpose, to lead by example and show how purpose-led businesses can pave the way.
“I’m pleased to announce that the Co-op will join the new ‘Equality of Opportunity Coalition’ and we’ve already started work to explore what we can do to promote socio-economic diversity within the Co-op.
“We commit to share our insight and next steps in early 2023.”
Rt Hon Justine Greening, Chair of the Purpose Coalition said:
“The Co-op is at the heart of local communities, and its deep knowledge of those it serves means they can truly help promote opportunity and tackle inequality.
“Our report sets out how the organisation can go even further to help tackle the challenges facing people today.”