Co-op calls on young people to join National Board

14 September 2015

Fresh thinking young people are being offered the chance to contribute ideas and innovation at the highest level of The Co-operative GroupYoung Members’ Board

In a move designed to recognise and harness the inspirational contribution young people have to make, the 16-25 year-olds will inspire change and explore new ways to engage future generations of Co-op members.  There are eight seats available on what will be a 15 strong board and one member will also take up a seat on The Group’s new Members’ Council.

Inspired by the original Rochdale Pioneers – five of whom were under 26 when they founded the world’s first consumer-owned co-operative in 1844 – the fifteen-strong Young Members’ Board will meet regularly to progress their work.  They will take on specific business challenges and projects set by The Co-operative Group Board

The Young Members’ Board is part of The Co-operative’s commitment to inspire young people and provides them with real responsibilities and opportunities to gain new skills, knowledge and experience. In turn the Group also benefits from gaining the rich insight, experiences and views of young people.

Allan Leighton, Chairman of the Co-operative Group, who will work closely with the Young Members’ Board, said: 

“This is an amazing and unique opportunity for young people to help shape the business they are members of to better meet their needs and the needs of their peer group moving forwards.

It creates a win-win for us all.  The successful Young Members will develop skills and experiences that they can take forward into their future careers, whilst the Co-op gains direct access to the skills and insight of young consumers, who are digitally savvy and socially conscious.  At a time when there often seems a dis-connect between big business and inspiring the younger generation, we are providing a clear means of bringing the two together.”

Nicolette Ester, a member of Co-operative Young Members’ Board, commenting on her experience said: 

“As a member of the CYMB I have had the opportunity to provide a voice for young people within the Co-operative Group, ensuring the next generation are central to the society’s new strategies and purpose. I’ve seen the power a young person’s voice can have and learnt to never be afraid to put forward new ideas but to be proud to be responsibly disruptive!

Being on the Board is a fantastic development opportunity and one I would recommend for other young people to seriously consider.”

Individuals wanting to apply to become part of the Young Members Board, or are aware of someone who does, should visit and apply by midnight on 20 September.

Notes to Editors:

About The Co-operative Group:

The Co-operative Group, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £10 billion.

About Nicolette Ester

Nicolette has recently been elected as a Senate Member of the Co-operative National Members’ Council where she hopes to bring fresh ideas to help the Group engage younger members.
Outside the Co-operative Nicolette works for the UK’s leading gluten-free bakery brand Genius Foods where she is responsible for creating new innovation and growth strategies for the business. Nicolette recently graduated from St Andrews University with a first class honours degree in Theology and has furthered her studies by completing the CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing.

She is extremely passionate about projects that inspire young people and has worked with youth organisations since the age of 15, including the UK Youth Parliament, Young Essex Assembly and UK Youth Bank. Nicolette is a 2013 Saltire Scholar and aims to inspire young people to think about their future contribution to Scottish industry. She has previously been awarded the young person of the year award and is also a double Diana award winner leading her to be asked to be part of Channel 4's year-long interactive series Yeardot.

Nicolette believes passionately in the values and principles of The Co-operative Group and last year took part in the 33fifty Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme, seeking to empower young people to combat climate change.  She believes strongly in the power of social media to raise awareness of the issues young people face within society and was recently named the Saltire Foundation's 2013 blogger of the year.