Up Close With: Twickenham Co-op store manager Mitul Patel

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There’s much more going on than first meets the eye at the Co-op on Hampton Road in Twickenham.

Between working with local food waste organisations like The Real Junk Food Project, fundraising for its community partnership with Mind, and delivering food to those in need during the pandemic, the store is truly embedded in the Twickenham community.

We chat to our local Co-op store manager Mitul Patel to find out more about what the store has been up to.

Mitul lives in Harrow and has worked at the Co-op for 14 years.

The team at the store counter - next time you see them why not say hello? (Image: Jessica Broadbent)

He started his career at the Co-op on Pitshanger Lane, near Ealing, and then worked his way up through the ranks.

He said: “I started my journey as a customer team member (CTM), then became a supervisor, then deputy, and store manager.

“I wanted to work here because of the progression at the Co-op, the diversity, the inclusion, and the community work – the Co-op is very good with communities.”

Mitul has been the Store Manager at Twickenham for nearly a year. He manages 14 staff members, four of whom are full time.

He says he loves working at the Twickenham store: “The staff are good here, the community is good, it’s a nice area with a very pleasant community.”

Mitul works closely with three local food waste organisations to ensure that as little food as possible is wasted each day.

He gets a text message from organisers to see what is available and then the surplus food is split between Food For Thought in Whitton, The Real Junk Food Project at the ETNA Centre in Twickenham and a local food bank in Twickenham.

This is part of Co-op’s Food Share programme – access to unsold good food for people in local communities who need it most.

He said: “Every day they text me and we give them the leftover food according to our availability so it’s not wasted. They text ahead so they don’t waste a trip.”

During lockdown Hampton Road Co-op also delivered food packages to locals in need.

“We did food deliveries for people in the community who needed it, like elderly people” Mitul said.

“The Co-op gave us a budget and we bought the food and delivered the bags to them.

“You have to know the community well, but if you work at the Co-op you know who requires help locally.”

As well as reducing food waste the store is also hot on recycling.

All of the waste is carefully separated out and recycled by staff, and there is a battery recycling facility for the public by the main door.

“We are the only supermarket that does the compostable shopping bags too,” he adds.

The Co-op also supports its local community. Co-op’s national charity partner for England and Wales is Mind, the mental health charity.

The store’s Charity Champion, Karen, organised a Mother’s Day raffle last month with three hampers full of organic coffee and food, flowers, and toys which were won by three local mums.

As a huge cricket fan (and a good cricketer he tells me!) Mitul organised a cricket festival charity event at Windsor Castle on Sunday 22 August, with all proceeds going to Mind.

The festival included a 20/20 cricket match between the Co-op’s cricket teams (of which Mitul is a player), food, face painting, henna, palm reading and games.

The event happened last year but with more Covid restrictions in place, and Mitul feels this year will be bigger and better, with more cricketers and more money raised for Mind.

In the future Mitul hopes to organise some store cricket and football matches against Twickenham teams with the store’s Member Pioneer Maria, who helps bring together Co-op members, colleagues and local causes to make communities a better place to live, work and play.

Watch out for the matches, to be held on Twickenham Green!

Mitul’s parting words to his customers are, “Stay safe! And we hope you keep shopping with the Co-op!.”

Co-op membership helps support your local community, with great rewards for you too.

When you buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes to you and we’ll give the same to local communities.

Join us today online at www.coop.co.uk/membership or in-store.

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