Kirsten Oswald, Member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire, has welcomed plans by the Co-op to create new opportunities and tackle inequalities across Scotland.

The Purpose Coalition reviewed the work of the Co-op and made recommendations for action including a scheme to make it easier for recruits to move from education to employment through work experience placements, with the Co-op covering costs for work experience and providing mentoring and training.

The Co-op also plans to become a gold standard organisation for pay gap tracking, and will track pay gaps for a range of factors including ethnicity, gender, and disability.

There are Co-op food stores in Clarkston, Newton Mearns, Barrhead, and Neilston.

In 2021 the Co-op’s Local Community Fund provided £10,844.64 for East Renfrewshire groups including Young Enterprise Scotland, St Thomas Primary School Parent Council, and Jayne Arthur Theatre School.

Kirsten attended an event in the House of Commons to mark the launch of the report and to meet Co-op members working to support those in need, including volunteers who work to redistribute food which would otherwise go to waste.

Kirsten said: “Delivering equality is one of the principles of co-operative organisations and I was delighted to attend the launch of this plan by the Co-op to tackle inequality and promote opportunity, including across Scotland.

“As we recover from the pandemic and face the cost-of-living crisis a focus on delivering greater equality has never been more needed.

“I know how important the Co-op stores are to local communities across East Renfrewshire and was pleased to hear of the support the Co-op’s Local Community Fund is providing to such a diverse group of local organisations.

Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO of the Co-op Group said: “It is vital that business and government work in partnership to unlock the talent that exists everywhere. We must ensure everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to succeed in a way that is right for them.

“I’m delighted that the impact the Co-op is already having in communities has been recognised in this report but we also know there is much more the Co-op, and other businesses, should do.”

Justine Greening, Chair of the Purpose Coalition said: “The Co-op is at the heart of local communities, and its deep knowledge of those it serves means they can truly help promote opportunity and tackle inequality. Our report sets out how the organisation can go even further to help tackle the challenges facing people today.”