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Why I'm urging the Co-op to Stop Funding Hate

Thursday 18-05-2017 - 15:42

We value our partnership with The Co-operative Group, a company that shares our values - now, along with Stop Funding Hate, we're asking them to withdraw their advertising from newspapers that spread hatred.

richard brooks

For me, it all started with a video. It was Christmas time, full of feel good festivities and heart-warming messages of hope, tolerance and kindness. Glitzy lights and acoustic music.

But this one was different.

This was a Stop Funding Hate video. It showed us that the money we used – as empowered consumers – to buy our family and friends gifts, was being spent on advertising in places where the message was totally opposed to the one we signed up to.

Stop Funding Hate argued that as empowered consumers, as democratic citizens who believe in a free society and press – that we can influence organisations that we endorse – implicitly or explicitly. The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express have constantly and consistently dehumanised refugees, Muslims and asylum seekers.

I agree that something has to change. As do many students’ unions. Having since been in contact with Stop Funding Hate, lots of students’ unions are making contact, asking how to get involved.

So, as NUS’ Vice President Union Development, lead officer of NUS’ enterprise activities, I’ve made several decisions to support the campaign.

NUS works with hundreds of commercial partners, through the largest purchasing consortium in Europe, as well as through our NUS Extra card with nearly a million active users.

At NUS’ Services Board this spring, I updated and got an endorsement from other board members to take part in this campaign, and have been supporting this work behind the scenes since, working with different parts of NUS to influence our suppliers and partners to use their advertisement funding in a way that matches their and our values.

The reason why we’re now going public with our support is because a valued partner of ours- the Co-operative- are having their Annual General Meeting this weekend. They’re an organisation whose values match our own and, whilst working with them, we’ve saved students millions of pounds.

We’re hoping to influence the Co-operative by asking them to use their advertisement funding more wisely and put it in places which don’t clash with their values. To use their standing as an ethical organisation to stand up for the things we all believe in – kindness, tolerance and a free press that doesn’t spread hatred.

So we’re showing leadership, and asking a good friend to make a small change that could make a big difference.

For anyone interested in getting involved in this campaign – please do contact myself at Richard.Brooks@nus.org.uk or visit Stop Funding Hate’s website.

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