Steve Murrells, Co-op CEO, has called for the pressing need to support those who are most at risk and vulnerable in the wake of the coronavirus. Murrells said: “I am calling on people to think and act co-operatively. There is enough food to go round and we have the best retail sector in the world to provide it – but we need customers to think of others in their community and not just themselves and their immediate family. People need to remain calm and stop stockpiling. Allow us to do our job and allow everybody proper access to food – not just the fastest and the fittest.
“I’m confident we’ll come through this and the experience will serve to remind us of the power and importance of communities working together. The acts of co-operation and self-sacrifice being made now by so many are really heartening.
“Our country is at its best when it comes together, when we look after the interests of the many rather than a chosen few, when we co-operate rather than completely isolate.
“In recent days we have seen some amazing acts of co-operation occurring across the country. We’re playing our part here as the nation would expect, not just by supporting customers with their daily food, insurance, bereavement and legal needs, but looking out for those who may need our help the most.
“Our offer to provide 5,000 jobs to people who may be losing their work, our decision to support children from Co-op Academies on free school meals and our £1.5m donation to FareShare, was done because there will be more vulnerable people affected by this virus than others.
“Businesses clearly have a key role to play here where they can, but so to do all of us as individuals. I am especially concerned about the elderly and long-term sick, many of whom were experiencing loneliness and isolation before this virus started.
“A couple of years ago The Co-op along with the British Red Cross produced ground breaking research which showed that 9 million people in this country are often lonely or isolated. Many of those people are responsible for the freedoms and the quality of life we enjoy today and we must all pull together to support and look after them during this challenging time.
“As the CEO of the UK’s most visited food retailer and largest funeral director, I’m proud of the efforts being made by my 60,000 colleagues to support the nations call. The Co-op is at its best when faced with the most challenging of circumstances, and we will not let our millions of customers and members down.”