Michael Fairclough of the Co-operative says the initiative will have a major impact on community-led regeneration
The Co-operative has launched a new programme for its staff to contribute up to a million hours a year of volunteering to their communities.
The 100,000 people working for the group, which includes supermarkets, financial services, funeral care and pharmacies, will be given two days a year, during work time, to volunteer.
The programme is part of the Co-operative’s Ethical Plan, which sets out its aim to be the most socially responsible business in the UK.
Michael Fairclough, head of community and co-operative investment at the Co-operative, said: "The Co-operative is committed to providing the tools, skills and knowledge for people to cooperate and make a difference. This is an exciting development that will have a real impact, not only on individuals and communities, but also on local economies and community-led regeneration.
"The development of the scheme is also driven by employees who benefit from enhanced communication and team skills while supporting their wider community.
"We have a proven track record in taking a long-term approach with social responsibility and ethics at the heart of our business."
The phased roll-out of the scheme begins this week with volunteering activities throughout the UK. These include staff working at a community farm in Newcastle upon Tyne, painting and gardening at the Hornimans adventure playground in west London and a makeover of the Corseford School sensory garden in Glasgow.