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Last week the Co-op sponsored the Campaign to End Loneliness ‘Kindness Can: A Positive Future for Loneliness’ conference. This conference brought together organisations from across the country with the mutual ambition to tackle loneliness. Co-op have been involved in this movement since 80,000 of our members and colleagues voted for our business to take action on the issue.
Co-op’s #tacklingloneliness campaign
We began our #TacklingLoneliness campaign in 2015 . We then conducted and published our report Trapped in a Bubble to see how widespread the issue of loneliness is and who it affects. As part of this research we found 18% of people are always or often lonely with 75% not knowing where to turn for support. Our research discovered six key triggers for loneliness; changes to health, mobility, bereavement, becoming a new mum, divorce or separation and retirement.
As a result of our findings, it became our ambition to take action. We joined the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission working on the business response to loneliness and were the first major business to do so. We co-launched our Cost of Loneliness to UK employers report with the Commission in February 2017, an event that was attended by co-chairs Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP. During this research we found that people who are experiencing loneliness are five times more likely than others to leave their job within a year. So, in July 2017 to help combat this The Co-op held a large networking event for employers from different sectors to share good practice and discuss solutions to tackle loneliness.
Co-op’s business approach to loneliness
We know from our research that loneliness is widespread in our communities so we’re changing the way our business operates to better recognise this.
Over the past two-year our members, colleagues and customers, raised over £6 million for the British Red Cross to help tackle loneliness. This money has funded an army of “Community Connector” volunteers who are helping people to re-discover their interests and in doing so re-connecting with their communities. These Community Connectors are now in 39 locations across the UK.
Our Funeralcare business are expanding and developing our social groups for the bereaved, providing thousands of people with on going care and support.
Through our Co-op Insurance business we are sponsoring Neighbourhood Watch to set up 30,000 new groups to help strengthen and bring communities together.
And with our Membership our members are supporting hundreds of local causes that are helping to build stronger community connections.
This is the start of our response as a business. We’ll be announcing more ways that we’ll be tackling loneliness later in the year. But we don’t want to lead the way alone, we call upon other businesses, community groups, colleagues, members and customers to join us and make a difference.
You can find out more about the Co-op’s campaign to tackle loneliness here: www.coop.co.uk/loneliness
Senior Public Affairs Manager