A near £30,000 boost to charities on the Isle of Lewis every year is anticipated, as the Co-operative stores in Stornoway gear up to introduce a host of new benefits for members and their communities.
Nationally the Co-operative is set to hand back more than £100 million a year to its members and communities with the launch of the new membership benefits scheme which will see members receive a five percent reward on any purchases they make of Co-op own brand products and services – and a further one percent directly benefiting local causes.
“It's been estimated that around £27,500 will be shared among three local charities in the first year,” said Steven Cooper, manager of Stornoway's Macaulay Road Co-op store.

“It's going to be amazing and the benefit to local charities will be outstanding. This scheme is here to stay and if we can give around £30,000 a year to the charities and projects within our area, that's brilliant.
"I shop at the Co-op and already I've saved about £10 and given around £3 or £4 to charity through it. It's a great scheme and one that has room for development in the years to come.”
The new membership benefits scheme has already been introduced to the Stornoway Co-op stores at Macaulay Road and Cromwell Street, and is being rolled out nationally throughout the autumn.
Initially, local causes and projects will be selected by staff at the Stornoway stores, with three island-based charities to benefit from the first year of the scheme to be announced soon.
Following that, local residents will be able to propose the cause they think should benefit, and by 2018 it's anticipated that nationally the benefits scheme will have generated more than £100 million a year going directly to members and their communities.
Over the next three years the Co-op also plans to bring back the much loved ‘Divi’ – the share of profits which it gives to members.
“Our intention is to return to paying a dividend again, but we also want to make the rewards for our members who trade with the Co-op more meaningful and community focused,” said Co-op CEO Richard Pennycook.
“This is what the Co-op is all about.  Big business is often accused of taking money out of communities – we are putting it back in as we champion a better way of doing business for our members and communities.”
The return of the 'Divi' re-enforces the Co-op's commitment to place membership and community firmly at the heart of its business again.
And the company has set a number of ambitious targets to support its vision of creating a Co-op economy across the UK over the next five years, including the recruitment of one million new members and returning an additional £3 million in benefits to Fairtrade producer communities by extending its sourcing commitments.
“We are on the verge of creating a new Co-op economy, one where the trade from our members clearly benefits them, their communities and our thousands of suppliers,” said Chair of the Co-op Allan Leighton.
“Our brand identity, whether seen on a Fairtrade bottle of wine, on a funeral home fascia or on our insurance website, will signify a better way of doing business.”
To find out more about the new Co-op membership benefits scheme, ask locally in-store or visit www.co-operative.coop.