Suma Gives Back
As a workers cooperative Suma is the sum of the interests of its workers, and its workers are part of the local community. As such Suma tends to concentrate its charitable efforts close to home and with organisations which its members feel strongly about. Below is a snapshot of some of our efforts:
Suma staff aren’t 100% vegetarian but there are a high percentage of vegetarians and vegans amongst the staff. Viva! actively campaign, around the UK, for people to stop eating animals and become vegetarian or vegan. They campaign on the basis that eating fish, meat or dairy products causes environmental destruction, damages human health, contributes to global hunger and inflicts immense suffering on billions of animals across the world. Viva! try to convert the UK population, mainly by holding road shows up and down the country – they have cooking demonstration and allow people to try various vegetarian and vegan foods. Suma supports Viva roadshows by contributing ingredients for the vegetarian and vegan dishes (usually prepared in advance) and products to taste on the day. Suma is often contacted by Animal Rights, Vegetarian and Vegan groups for ingredients when running stalls, and we like to be able to contribute where we can.
Many Suma members are actively against animal cruelty and so it would seem natural for us to sponsor an unrehomeable greyhound at the local greyhound and lurcher rescue centre. Tia has rehomed hundreds of ex-racing, stray and injured dogs. A fair few Suma members have Tia dogs as pets. However, some of them are so institutionalised they are not able to fit into normal family life as a pet and so need constant care throughout their lives at Tia. Suma has sponsored Buddy for the last three years. Greyhounds and lurchers make loving pets and although they are very fast runners they don’t need much exercise and would much prefer to sleep on a settee all day. If you would consider a greyhound or lurcher as a pet or just fancy taking one for a walk have a look at Tia’s website www.tiagreyhounds.org.uk
Many Suma staff have children in the local schools so we provide 20 to 30 hampers and raffle prizes every year. These include items for harvest festivals, beetle drives, contributions to Fairtrade Fortnight events, speakers on healthy eating, tours of Suma for the local University Business Studies Students (alternative business models) and work experience placements for local High Schools and Colleges and even sponsorship of a football strip for the local under 9’s team. We have also run healthy eating cookery demonstrations at six local schools with the help and expertise of Stirrin stuff. www.stirrinstuff.org
Children in Need
Despite the best stock controlling, care and attention it’s inevitable that some Suma stock will get damaged or be unsold before the best before date. Suma tends to give short dated stock to women’s refuges, soup kitchens and food charities where there is more than a few cases, but the majority ends up going to staff for free.
Mick and Tony decided that we could raise some money for charity by charging staff 50p for a bar of broken chocolate rather than having it for free. In the first year we raised £1000 for Mick’s favourite charity Children in Need.
Gambia, West Africa
When planning a holiday in the Gambia, Kari (Suma IT worker) asked around for old IT equipment to donate to a Training Centre and YMCA. So many Suma workers donated that there wasn’t space in her suitcase and she had to have some of it shipped out separately. She returned a year later to run a two-week project management course, which raised funds for the centre.
Amnesty International UK
Suma formed the first workplace Amnesty group. The group meets at Suma and works with other local groups to organise events (Tea Party in Hebden, Columbian Conference and Stop Violence Against Women Conference in Leeds). Suma often donates food and drink to support these events. Our main work is letter writing, signing petitions and postcards to support people whose human rights are being abused. The greetings card campaign and amnesty shopping attracts a lot of support at Christmas.
St Georges Crypt, Leeds
Suma loves food and hates waste, but on occasion where we can’t sell products at a discount or eat it in our canteen, we always try to make use of it before it goes out of date. St Georges Crypt in Leeds often takes this food, using it in their kitchen or distributing it to other charitable organisations. The Crypt serves hot food to the homeless of Leeds every day and is a hub for distributing to other charities, e.g. women’s refuges. Last January, Suma workers donated their old sleeping bags to the centre (which are always in demand).
Many Suma members belong to Friends of the Earth, GreenPeace, Woodcraft folk or other green organisations. We think many Suma customers are also supporters of these groups as well. Suma is proud to have Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth as customers and regularly advertise in the Earth Matters magazine.
It would seem natural then that Suma staff take some care of their surrounding environment. Suma has taken stewardship of the length of the Calder River which runs down the side of our site. We pick up litter and pull up invasive species such as Himalayan balsam and knotweed which are rife in the area. The river is a fantastic wildlife corridor, we see herons, dragonflies and the occasional kingfisher in the summer. The river also seems to bring us an endless supply of wild/stray cats which staff cannot help feeding and we have risked life and limb to catch and take to the local vet for defleaing and sterilising. Several of the longer term moggies got so tame they eventually ended up being taken home as pets.
Suma staff have also built and maintain a small wildlife garden on the roundabout under the by-pass in Elland. The site is planted with indigenous species which attract insects such as butterflies and bees. Kate also helped the local council plant a series of flower tubs and hanging baskets in an attempt to make Elland beautiful in bloom.
Also, much advertised, Suma is part of Treesponsibility’s Co2mittment scheme which aims to plant native trees up and down the Calder Valley to replace lost trees and help avoid soil erosion and flooding. Suma plants in the region of 5,300 trees each year to offset the carbon produced by our fleet of delivery trucks. Suma staff plant some of the trees but Treesponsibility also work with local schools and groups to plant trees.
Suma is first and foremost a Co-operative and abides by the co-operative principals and therefore we spend time and money supporting and helping other co-operatives where we can.
Nabwood School in Bradford did not want to be under local council control, nor did it want to become affiliated with a particular church. The answer, for them, seemed to be to become a co-operative school. Bob Cannell, from Suma, helped the school, staff and governors make the transition and implement the Cooperative principals. Bob is now a governor of Nabwood School and is still able to offer help and advice to the school about cooperative working. Cooperative schools seem to be on the increase and Suma is happy to sponsor and aid other local schools through the same process.