Reflections 2012: It’s not just about the bottom line

We’ll all remember 2012 for various reasons, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics to name just a few. But at Lincolnshire Co-operative one of the most memorable aspects of 2012 has been its designation as the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.

Across the globe, people have been celebrating what makes co-ops different.

In Lincolnshire, we decided to raise money for two co-operative themed charities. So far we’ve collected more than £80,000 with more coming in every day.

One charity is Pascal, a co-op of local Age UKs. The money we raise will go towards providing services like befriending for older people in Lincolnshire.

The other is Plan UK, an international children’s charity. Our money will be going towards helping young people in Rwanda set up their own co-operative businesses.

I and a group of Lincolnshire Co-op colleagues have recently returned from Rwanda where we met the people who our money will help. It was an inspirational and unforgettable experience for us all.

We met a co-op of women who create and sell handicrafts, a group of young people who make clothes, members of a bee-keeping co-op and, maybe the most moving and thought provoking, a group of women who are turning their back on prostitution to try and build a new life for themselves, by raising goats and growing crops.

The money we in Lincolnshire raised on sponsored walks, cycles and dressing up days will fund the practical help for these co-operatives that every new business needs.

But more than this, I hope that our visit to these co-ops lets them know that our society, so far away, stands united with them in their collective endeavour for a better tomorrow.

That’s what we’re all about at Lincolnshire Co-op and I think this year has proved it more than ever. 2012 has been difficult for all retailers, but what makes me proud to work for Lincolnshire Co-op is that even in this climate, it’s not just about the bottom line.

We’re still supporting our local communities. We’re still giving out grants and donations, investing in new stores and giving local producers an outlet.

We’ll be continuing that work in 2013.

We plan to open new outlets, including foodstores in Haxey and Crowle. We’re always looking for new local producers and we’ll be adding more products to our ‘Love Local’ range during the year.

In March, we’ll be introducing a new way of giving money to deserving local causes – watch this space!

And we’ll also be hoping to raise thousands for our new charity of the year, When You Wish Upon a Star, which aims to make dreams come true for children in our area with life-threatening illnesses.

Just as my colleagues made the effort to raise funds for Pascal and Plan UK, I know they’ll get behind this very worthy cause.

— Ursula Lidbetter is the Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative and the Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership