24th July 2015
Following a decisive vote by its members and colleagues, The Co-operative Group has announced that it will partner with the British Red Cross to tackle social isolation and loneliness.
As part of The Co-operative Group, over a two year period The Co-operative Insurance, will fundraise and campaign to help address these issues, which are of growing concern for UK society and reported to affect some 5m people*.
Research by the Group has shown that:
- One in seven of its customers and members say they are affected by social isolation and loneliness.
- A third of its members know someone in both their family and community who is affected by loneliness.
- Almost a quarter (22%) will go over a week without even being asked: “How are you?”
Being lonely is reported as being twice as unhealthy as being obese**. With loneliness can come a sense of despair and emotional and health problems such as depression and anxiety.
This announcement marks a return to the Group’s campaigning heritage by championing issues that its members and colleagues identify as being important to them. In 1945 the Co-operative raised funds for the British Red Cross, from sales of our own brand Co-operative tea. The funds that were raised were used to help vulnerable people both at home and overseas respond to the aftermath of World War Two.
Richard Pennycook, Group Chief Executive, said:
" This is what the Co-operative difference is all about. We are standing up for what matters to our members and colleagues so that we can campaign for change and a better society.
Loneliness is indiscriminate, it’s not just about older generations; it can affect anyone at any stage of their life and regardless of circumstances. We can use the presence we have in over 3,750 communities in the UK to help tackle these issues at a local level with our colleagues and members. We look forward to working with our new Charity Partner, the British Red Cross, to address this issue."
James Hillon, Products and Propositions Director at The Co-operative Insurance, said:
"At The Co-operative Insurance we serve all members of society, young and old. Loneliness and social isolation can affect anyone, at varying stages of their lives, and we are so pleased that we can now campaign on this issue with the British Red Cross.
As a member-led organisation we are extremely aware of the issues that affect the communities we serve and our colleagues are keen to champion and raise awareness for this extremely worthy cause."
Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of British Red Cross, said:
"We are all absolutely delighted to become the new charity partner of The Co-operative Group. It is such an incredible opportunity which will undoubtedly help us to transform the lives of thousands of people living in our communities. No-one should be suffering alone, and a partnership with The Co‑operative Group will help us to reach thousands of vulnerable people."
Nick Crofts – newly elected President of the Members’ Council, added:
"This is an important issue which will really galvanise our members and customers to take action and tackle this important social problem. Our intention is for the Co-op to become known by the British public for our work in this area.”
For further information please contact
Press & Media Relations Manager
The Co-operative Group
0161 767 4354 / 07770 441 828
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Between 22 June and 12 July this year, 78,000 members and colleagues of The Co-operative Group voted to decide the issue and Charity Partner the Group would support over the next two years. Prior to the vote the Group engaged with thousands of its members and employees through the Co-operative’s Let’s Talk website, seeking their views and ideas to help identify issues that mattered to them. The Group identified potential charities that could work with it to champion and campaign on those issues at a local and national level.
About The Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £10 billion.
The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.
*Mental Health Foundation – The Lonely Society (2010)
** University of Chicago - Professor John Cacioppo (2014)