December 8, 2016

Escaping the Bubble

Today we launch our joint report with British Red Cross, into tackling loneliness and social isolation across the UK. British Red Cross are our Charity Partner and throughout 2015 and 2016 we’ve been fundraising to support the partnership. But today, we turn our attention to how we can work together to tackle loneliness.

What do we already know about loneliness?

We know loneliness and social isolation affects people’s health, wellbeing and behaviour.

A lack of social connections can be linked to cardiovascular health risks and increased death rates, blood pressure, signs of ageing, symptoms of depression and risk of dementia. It could even be as damaging to health as smoking and as strong a risk as obesity.

Loneliness impacts us all, not just the elderly. There are many reasons someone can become lonely, such as becoming a young new mum, developing mobility and health issues, a recent bereavement, divorce or retirement.


So, we commissioned leading social researchers Kantar Public to help fill some of the gaps in existing knowledge on loneliness, looking into potential trigger points that can affect people of all ages.

You can read more about our in-depth research in our Escaping the Bubble report or the summary report.

How can we tackle loneliness?

Our research has shown that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackling loneliness. Different people need different kinds of support – and these needs can vary, depending on the level of their loneliness.


Our research has identified eight ways we can help people reconnect with their communities:

  • Give a sense of purpose
  • Be peer-led or co-designed with people in similar circumstances
  • Be local and easy to access
  • Be free or affordable
  • Instil a positive sense of identity
  • Provide clear goals and pathways to reconnection
  • Provide benefits to others (such as through volunteering)
  • Bring people together around shared interests

These principles provide the foundation of our responses to the serious issues we have identified.

How will our partnership with British Red Cross work to tackle loneliness?

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Co-op colleagues, members and customers, from 2017 and over the next two years the British Red Cross will be providing new services to support up to 12,500 people experiencing loneliness to reconnect back to their communities.

Community connectors

Highly skilled, professional community connectors – specialists in psychosocial support, safeguarding and supporting people experiencing social isolation and loneliness – and their teams of volunteers will provide up to 12 weeks of intensive, person-centred support to help thousands of people reconnect with their communities.

Support at home

These dedicated services will be targeted particularly at people with complex needs following life-changing events, identified as being at particular risk of chronic loneliness. They’ll work with each person to agree goals towards regaining confidence and independence, and provide practical and emotional support to help them to achieve these goals.



How will Co-op work to tackle loneliness?

We appreciate that strong communities provide a way out of loneliness for many. So, the Co-op can and will respond in a number of ways.

Co-op members

Our Membership proposition will support thousands of community groups helping to build strong community connections. We will also be calling on our members to volunteer with the British Red Cross to help deliver the new services to support those experiencing loneliness.


Our Funeralcare business will expand and develop its social groups for the bereaved, which will provide thousands of people across the country with ongoing care and social support at a crucial time in their lives.


Our Insurance business is sponsoring Neighbourhood Watch to set up 30,000 new groups over four years to refresh and expand the network in order to help strengthen and bring communities and neighbours together.

Co-op colleagues

To help our colleagues experiencing loneliness, we are relaunching our Employee Assistance Programme which enables colleagues to confidentially seek less formal support as well as support for more serious issues such as psychological and trauma-related.

For more about our research and out campaign to tackle loneliness with the British Red Cross see

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. […] significant milestone in that campaign was the publication of Trapped in a Bubble, an in-depth report into the triggers for loneliness. What made the report so groundbreaking was […]

  2. […] communities and gets involved in big social campaigns, like tackling loneliness and modern slavery. Loneliness affects lots of different people, that’s why I’m supporting the Co-op Foundation with my […]

  3. […] introduced some of the key findings of our research on loneliness and what Co-op are hoping to achieve through our campaign to tackle loneliness with British Red […]

  4. […] The Co-op Foundation is all about helping disadvantaged communities work together to make great things happen. It is set up by the Co-op to complement its other work within communities across the UK, such as the campaign to tackle loneliness. […]

  5. […] also announced at the end of last year that our research with British Red Cross, has helped us to understand that loneliness doesn’t just affect those in later life; it affects […]

  6. […] at the Co-op we know through our research that 9 million people in the UK are experiencing loneliness. Our members, customers and colleagues have raised an incredible £4 million to date to tackle […]

  7. Local members of the community came along to Greasbrough Co-op Funeralcare Coffee Morning sharing a chat over coffee and cakes whilst remembering loved ones by placing messages on the Christmas tree thank you all for your great support we raised £64 in aid of our chosen charity the Red Cross working together to help tackle Loneliness🎄

  8. I am an OAP also founder of [] please visit welcome your thoughts
    Kind Regards
    Stan Stearman


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