Tom Keighley

Waitrose congratulated on social responsibility

Waitrose has been presented with the Big Society Award by David Cameron, in recognition of its work with local communities.

The Prime Minister joined Waitrose managing director Mark Price to celebrate the success of the supermarket’s Community Matters scheme.

At the meeting, Waitrose announced that £10m of its profits have been donated to more than 30,000 good causes to date.

There is now plans to increase its support for local communities, and in particular to help youngsters get into work.

Launching in February, the Partner Volunteering scheme will see thousands of Waitrose employees, or partners as they are called, donating time to local charities and good causes over the course of a year.

Every branch will volunteer for an average of 250 hours, and following successful trials, the scheme will be rolled out across the business, meaning a total of 75,000 hours will be spent in local communities in 2012.

Mr Cameron said: “The Big Society Awards are all about recognising the work that people like Waitrose are doing to bring about what I care about most: a bigger, stronger society. And Community Matters is helping to do exactly that.

“Those green tokens have already seen £10m donated to more than 30 thousand local good causes.

“I’ve heard first-hand this morning from some of the charities who have benefited, they are the greatest testament to the difference this scheme makes.

“I would like to congratulate Waitrose staff around the country for the contribution they have already made to their local communities and I wish them every success with their new employee volunteering, work placement and apprenticeship programmes over the coming year.”

A second new initiative for 2012 will provide two-week work placements to youngsters who are not in education or employment.

This follows a successful trial late last year at its Aylesford distribution centre in Kent, which resulted in five of the twelve candidates being offered full-time jobs with Waitrose, and the other seven finding full-time roles at other companies withing a few weeks of the scheme.

Each placement will carry independent accreditation from the ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network).

Waitrose’s Mark Price, said: “It is more important than ever that we play an active role in supporting and safeguarding the future of the areas we trade in and the people who live here.

“It’s also essential that, in these difficult economic times, we give young people opportunities to develop their careers, they are the future of our business and our industry.

“Our Partner Volunteering initiative, apprenticeship schemes and work with The Prince’s Trust are great ways for out Partners to give something back to their communities, they will also provide invaluable experience to our Partners, helping them learn new skills which they can apply in their own lives.”

In the second half of 2012, the John Lewis Partnership will formally launch a 12-month apprenticeship scheme to give young people an insight into the workings of the business.

Each participant will receive a Level 2 Retail Apprenticeship qualification from city and Guilds at the end of the 12 months.

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