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Passion for the community

I joined Co-op in 2019 as a Member Pioneer Coordinator 2 years after retiring as a Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police Service. I’ve always had a passion for working with the community, and I’m actively involved with Scouting, Air Cadets, and the YMCA, where I’ve been on the Board of Trustees for the past 6 years.

On retirement in 2017 I wasn’t looking for employment as I wanted to devote more time to my voluntary activities. However, one evening I saw a job post on the Restless website for a Member Pioneer Coordinator vacancy in my area. Something inside of me said ‘I can do that- it’s right up my street!’ I applied, went for an interview, and was in the role within 6 weeks.

Co-ordinating a diverse team that reflects the communities we serve

Day to day I lead a team of 10 Member Pioneers across East London which is arguably one of the most diverse areas in the country. I’m lucky to have a team that truly reflects the communities they work in. 50% identify as male; 50% identify as female; 50% identify as being white and 50% identify as being from a Black or Asian background.

I came into the role with a large network of groups and individuals I had been fortunate to work with over the past 30+ years, which has really helped me to be successful. However, I strive to increase my network to enable me to support my Member Pioneers. There are so many facets to Co-op and it’s great tapping into other parts of the organisation for support. I love talking to people and letting them know what Co-op does in their communities and how they can become involved by being a member.

It’s never too late to learn!

I have always believed in self-development and don’t agree that when you reach a ‘certain age’ there is nothing new to learn. Within Co-op I have taken the opportunity to join various work streams in the Member Pioneer programme including Diversity, Inclusion and People. I have been fortunate to lead sessions at the Member Pioneer roadshows, and it’s great to share knowledge and expertise with colleagues across the country.  

Becoming a Member Pioneer Co-ordinator has allowed me to continue my passion for community work whilst getting paid and growing my skills long after retirement! 

by Cheryl Burden

Member Pioneer Co-ordinator 

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