UP CLOSE in Grantham: Co-op Member Pioneer Jeannie Holland



Late last year, Grantham Nub News began an exciting partnership with the Co-op.

The move is part of the Nub News philosophy to support our community, promoting shops, businesses, charities, clubs and sports.

This has seen some of these businesses and organisations appearing in a regular feature called Up Close.

In December, we introduced the Co-op Member Pioneer for the Grantham, Jeannie Holland, who began the role in April last year.

Jeannie said of her work: “Being a Member Pioneer is all about bringing Co-op Members, colleagues and local causes together to make the communities a better place to work, play, live and learn.

“We put people in touch with like-minded people and offer practical advice and help. Our aim is to make connections in the communities around our food stores and funeral homes.

“We like to get people talking about issues in their community and helping to solve these. I am a member of community forums and make regular contact with our causes and other community groups locally, and Co-op colleagues."

Member Pioneers support their local community by trying to understand their different areas and needs, reaching out to the various community groups and discussing with them how best to achieve this.

Jeannie explained: “Since the pandemic began it has been difficult to get out into the community and I have had to think of different ways to support the community.

“A lot of work has been done online including a virtual tea party I attended with The Friendly Bench, a past Local Cause in Bottesford where along with other topics we discussed loneliness and how we can help people during this difficult time.”

“I did manage to visit the Foodbank who are a Co-op local cause and discuss any further help we may be able to offer, and I visited a local COVID support group and connected them with people that were able to help, including a Co-op colleague.

“I am also in the process of connecting Vale and Fosseway First Responders with Bottesford Pre-school, two of our current causes, to organise a competition and educational session for the children. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions this has been delayed until Autumn.

“I did manage to get a few people together to take part in a Santa run at Christmas, where we ran seven and a half miles along Grantham Canal path and helped raise money for one of our other local causes, Dove Cottage, who are a day Hospice that offers high quality palliative day care to local people who are living with a life-limiting illness, free of charge. Part of their project is to plan wellbeing sessions for their clients.”

Jeannie supports local causes by keeping in regular touch with them and discussing the causes and any struggles they may face.

“For instance, I visited the Friends of Belmont School recently, which is one of our causes, and I was able to see how they have progressed.

“They are building an outdoor educational space and mindfulness area for pupils and they will include extra activities that will help bring the community together.

“We discussed any further help they needed, and I will be reaching out to other community groups to see who has the skills and time to support and help with this."

Jeannie’s work includes using Co-op community assets such as Co-operate, Foodshare and the Community Wellbeing Index in her role.

She explained: “The Co-op Foodshare re-distributes food at the end of the day to people who need it. A community group registers via the Co-op at the link here and collects food at the end of the day.

“We are currently looking for a new Foodshare partner for our Princess Drive store. In my role as a Member Pioneer I talk to local community groups and discuss how we could help them if they were to become a Foodshare partner and I advise them on how to apply for this.

“An example of this is that I recently discussed this with a community group and connected them with someone who was able to assist them with their application to be a Foodshare partner, which was successful and they became a Foodshare partner for one of our stores.”

It was helping out communities that attracted Jeannie, a retired Community Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, to become a Member Pioneer.

Jeannie said: “Having worked in a caring profession, working within the community for most of my working life, when I retired, I missed being such a big part of the community.

“The role of Member Pioneer has given me that back, on a much smaller number of hours. When I saw the role, I loved the thought of working with charities and communities and the idea of helping to make a difference to the communities around my area.”

And the best bit, she continued, is helping people, connecting people and making a difference to the community.

Jeannie said: “I love talking to people in different areas and discussing their thoughts on the needs of the community. One of the best parts of my role is finding new causes when the cause applications become open. I always find it amazing how many community groups are out there, doing so much good.”

Asked what makes a good Member Pioneer, Jeannie added: “Someone who is not afraid to get out there and meet people and who is passionate about their community.”

You can contact Jeannie at [email protected]

If you've got any ideas on how the Co-op could help your community, or want to know what Co-op is doing near you then contact the Co-op Member Pioneer Co-ordinator for your area, who will then put you in touch with your local Member Pioneer.


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