Sophie Thompson, who is already a well-known face in the food and drink community in Angus, has taken up a member pioneer role at the Co-op.
The food and drink coordinator for Appetite for Angus (AFA) is now also a member pioneer for the Co-op’s Carnoustie, Angus store.
In her new role, Sophie Thompson, who took up her position with the AFA towards the end of last year, will bring together Co-op members, colleagues and local causes to make communities better places to live, work and learn.
Member pioneers have a genuine passion for their communities and want to make a difference.
This was what attracted Sophie, who already does a lot of work in the community with AFA and as a volunteer with S-Mart, the social supermarket in Forfar, to become a member pioneer.
Supporting community important
The 31-year-old said: “Supporting my local community and helping people has always been important to me.
“At university, I studied sport, health, exercise and nutrition through this I volunteered at Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food teaching people in the community cookery skills.
“I then volunteered at Healthy Living Network Leeds, which was all about improving community health.
“Volunteering at S-Mart Angus for the last year allowed me to support them in combatting food insecurity and food waste.”
Angus Tourism Co-operative Ltd, which oversees AFA as a sub-group focused on developing the food and drink network for the county, brought Sophie on board in October of last year.
The primary purpose of her role is to promote Angus producers, hospitality and products, and make Angus a food and drink destination of choice.
In her new role with the Co-op, Sophie is looking forward to working with people in Carnoustie and the wider area, and food and drink projects will be very much a key part of that.
And her experience working with Angus food and drink producers which has seen her involved in organising virtual markets, and overseeing other events to help businesses in their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, will be vital.
Already, Sophie has visited the Food is Free community garden initiative in Carnoustie. They were one of the beneficiaries of the Co-op Community Fund which will continue until October.
Inspiring work by Food is Free
Sophie said: “Myself and my colleagues from Carnoustie Co-op Stores visited Food Is Free Carnoustie. They are one of our local causes which we support through our Local Community Fund.
“It was so inspiring to learn more about their project and hear about all the positive work they do to support the local community from teaching people how to grow their own food to offering volunteering opportunities to welcoming local groups.
“They also have a bench where plants and produce is left for people to take what they need. I was so impressed to see the team are trying their hand at growing peanuts and watermelon!”
And Sophie is looking forward to supporting more community projects and initiatives with the Co-op.
She added: “My new role at the Co-op is all about bringing communities together and supporting them.
“My role as a community pioneer is to deliver ‘Cooperating for a Fairer World’. This is Coop’s plan to support communities through their three key themes; fairer access to food, fair access to health and wellbeing support and fair access to education and employment.
“I’m looking forward to getting out in the community and supporting all the local community groups in Carnoustie.”