We get to know our Society Vice-President Jane Avery and find out about how co-operatives have always played a big role in her life
Our Society Vice-President Jane had her first encounter with co-operatives at the age of 13 – and has never looked back.
Alongside her current role as a Board Member, Jane has devoted much of her professional life to supporting people looking to set up worker co-ops as well as supporting several other vital good causes.
We spent some time learning more about her co-op history and her views on what makes us stand out from the crowd.
What is your first Co-op memory?
I remember when I was a child and we had a mobile bread van from the co-op. I even remember my mum quoting her co-op number – something that everyone always brings up when they talk about the co-op.
Later on, I started work with the Derby and Burton Co-operative Society. I was going for a space on the management training programme and I remember quite vividly being nervous and thinking I hope I get this job. I did get the job and once I started working for them, I quickly found out about the history, the co-operative values and principles and found out how different an organisation it was.
I worked for the Society for seven years and then left to take on my current job which is developing worker co-ops and community co-ops. I help a new generation of people find out about co-ops or help those who already know get the help they need.
Tell us about your life and how you came to be part of Central England Co-operative?
After starting work for the co-op, I moved over to work in member relations before leaving after seven years. But when I left I obviously continued to be an active member and also retained an interest in co-ops and what they could do for the local community.
A lot of other organisations I am involved with are co-ops and it is like one big family. So there came a point where people said to me ‘why don’t you stand to become a Board Member at Central England Co-op’?
So I said I would stand and I got elected in 2015. I have recently been elected in 2018 and I was so proud to achieve that.
Tell us about your role as CEC Vice-President?
This was a momentous occasion for me. It allows me to support the President (Elaine Dean) but also allows me to learn more about the Society at another level. It is almost like an apprenticeship and I am looking forward to finding out more and helping the Society in any way that I can.
Tell us about the vital work you do helping community projects and local good causes?
One of the organisations I am involved in is Leicester Rape Crisis. A friend asked me to help out on its committee. I look at helping to provide a strategic overview for those involved, although I am not averse to getting my hands dirty when jobs need doing.
I thought it seemed a worthwhile group to support as it is such an important service to have. It makes a difference to people’s lives.
People come to us who are broken. We have amazing volunteers who then work with them for a few weeks and helping them walk away feeling better.
I think the organisation makes a vital difference and I am ever so proud to be part of it.
I also act as the local coordinator for the Dyspraxia Foundation, which included setting up a parent support group and club for kids.
This role has changed over the years but this again is a vital resource for people who otherwise may be left to fend for themselves.
What do you think is the best thing about being a member of CEC?
The best way I can describe this is by referring to a recent experience that I had. I was out for a meal in our village and was sitting across from someone who I had never met. I explained that I was involved with Central England Co-op and they replied ‘The co-op is fantastic’ and went on to talk about how the village would a struggle without such a vital resource.
This kind of comment is something I hear all the time and is a great way to articulate what is good about our Society.
Our Food Stores and Funeral Homes are part of our communities and our colleagues doing an amazing job of going above and beyond for our customers and members.
I also think an amazing part of what we do is our Community Dividend Fund. We have some great applications that reflect our co-operative values and principles, ones that develop the local community and to help more people than before. I think it is a great example of our work as a community retailer. By donating a few hundred pounds, our impact can be wide and long lasting.
How do you like to relax and unwind?
I love spending time with family and friends. We live in nice area and enjoy walking the dog in the countryside and cooking nice meals.
How would you best sum up Central England Co-operative to others?
I would say that Central England Co-operative an organisation that people trust, one that does the right thing and makes a difference in the community.
Picture caption: Vice-President Jane Avery is proud of the good reputation Central England Co-operative has among its customers and members.
Find out more about our Board and how you can get involved at www.members.coop