A Lichfield retailer has honoured a “community hero” for his role in helping lead a scheme getting vital food to vulnerable people during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

James Knight

James Knight, member community relations officer at Central England Co-op, managed the link-up with Lichfield District Council to help supply those forced to shield or self-isolate.

The scheme went on to be rolled out in Burton, Derby, Stafford and Leicester, with more than 1,800 people supported.

James has now been given a Special Contribution Award at the Central England Co-op Leading Brilliance Awards.

He was praised by judges at the virtual ceremony for his “leadership, teamwork and true co-operative spirit to help those in need”.

James said:

“The community hubs project was a massive team effort but I’m very honoured to receive this award on behalf of everyone who worked on it.

“The whole project was a brilliant example of people and organisations working together to support vulnerable people to get food quickly at a time of great need and challenge.

“It is nice that other people see the work which I and my fellow member and community relations officers do.

“It is our job, but we do sometimes go above and beyond, and it was nice that people see the importance of the different work we do to support our communities.

“I’m proud that I work for an organisation that enabled us to do something like that. It was solely about helping the community in a time of need and making sure the vulnerable members of our community got supported.

“For us it wasn’t just about getting the food out to people we were also taking calls and spending a few minutes chatting to people as sometimes we might have been the only person they spoke to that week.”

James Knight, Central England Co-op

The community hubs have now been replaced by a call and collect service which allows people to phone up and have their orders picked and packed for collection.

“It is a brilliant service and it is simple and easy to use and can be a lifeline, particularly for vulnerable members of the community.

“I know many we helped in the community hubs project have found it to be of huge help.”

James Knight, Central England Co-op

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