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Giving something back to my community

My journey with Co-op began In July 2020 – working on the shop floor in North Wales during the Covid-19 pandemic, while also studying for a History degree. I’d worked in retail for 5 years prior to this alongside my studies – but it was the first time I’d really taken an interest in the values of a company, and I saw an opportunity to develop my skills in a business whose ethics aligned with mine.

To keep myself busy during the pandemic, I sought volunteer opportunities in my community – becoming the Youth Rep for the Community Council and liaising with the County Council to improve the wellbeing and opportunities for young people in my vicinity.  

This relationship became a perfect bridge between the new arrival of the Co-op and key stakeholders in the community and so I used the relationships I’d built to ensure community groups knew about our Local Community Fund, causes and arranged volunteering hours for the store colleagues.   

Opportunities to use my skills and knowledge

As my ambition in Co-op grew and I sought opportunities to develop my career further. Creativity was always a passion of mine, so I began to develop graphics and posters for local groups - and at the peak of Covid I created a map of the internal layout of the store for elderly people who were concerned about their exposure to Covid-19 in-store through an extended period inside.  

The opportunity arose for a 6-month secondment to work in the Local Marketing team (which is now permanent). I could utilise my store operational knowledge, my experience with customers and learning the different shopper missions to inform the creative direction of the marketing team. It paired my experience with my passion – the perfect opportunity to grow and develop within Co-op. It provided a brilliant two-way learning approach for the team, and I felt empowered to make a difference – Co-op is brilliant for championing growth and progression. I feel very proud to work for a business that takes self-development seriously and encourages a ‘squiggly career’ narrative. 

An exciting new role

I began working in Local Marketing in February 2021 and my core role is to develop a suite of marketing for our new stores, refits, extensions, relocations, and Franchise stores. I’ve learnt so much about the different marketing channels over the past 24 months: print, social media, digital, experiential, point of sale, radio to name but a few. I’ve loved working on Own-Brand trials such as GRO (our vegan / vegetarian lines) which is super delicious by the way and I’m not a veggie!  

I’ve also worked on promoting our Ever-Ground coffee range. I’m an avid chilled coffee drinker so working on a chilled coffee campaign was ideal for me – I had to taste test it a few times of course… As a recent student myself, it was amazing to have the opportunity to influence our student marketing and build a suite of assets for Freshers 2022 and beyond. Not only that, I worked alongside our amazing Events and Partnerships team at Leeds Festival and Isle of Wight in our festival store – now that’s a great Co-op shop!  

Giving young people a voice

I joined the Co-op Young Members Group (CYMG) alongside five others to help elevate the voices of young people. We meet lots of different groups and provide another perspective on issues facing young people to help influence meaningful and lasting change. I love having the opportunity to support on these projects – it’s empowering, and it gives young people autonomy over our futures – in a world that can be very turbulent, with many decisions taken out of their hands. Young people are an asset worthy of harnessing, and as Izzy (CYMG) eloquently put, are brimming with creativity, empathy for others and a conviction to building a better future. You could follow our Instagram page to keep up to date with our projects (shameless plug).  

Through all these opportunities I’m developing new skills, meeting enormously talented people and I’m incredibly excited to see what the next 12 months holds for me at Co-op as I continue to learn and grow.  

Yasmin Hewitt,

Local Marketing Assistant and Young Members’ Group representative.