Checking in on our members’ wellbeing

Approx 770 words. 4 minutes to read.

Last month, we checked in to see how our members were coping during the Coronavirus outbreak and we were overwhelmed by the response we received. 

More than 10,000 members joined in to tell us how they were feeling, share what they’ve been doing to support their wellbeing, and to explore what Co-op could do to help them stay as well as possible during the pandemic. 

With limited social interactions, the majority of members told us they’d been feeling tired, bored and anxious during lockdown. Older members were more likely to feel happy and content, while younger members said they felt stressed. 

Our Mental Health Charity partner, MIND, has identified some key ways for us to improve our wellbeing, so we used these as the basis of our survey; asking members to tell us what they’ve been doing to connect with each other, learn new things, stay active and give something back while maintaining social distancing. 

Staying Connected  

While the vast majority of our members have been using video calls to stay connected with friends and family, some have chosen more traditional ways to communicate and others have found more inventive ways to keep in touch. 

“Writing letters to elderly family members and sending pictures my daughter has drawn.” Alison Shaw, Biggleswade 

“Joining an online book club and playing scrabble online with friends.” Jacqueline Hazel, Beaminster 

Almost half of members told us that they’d participated in an online quiz, with younger people twice as likely to get involved than those over 70. 

A third of members have been learning new technology or getting creative with arts and crafts during lockdown. 

Learning  

As well as improving their DIY skills and studying a new language, members told us they’d been learning more about the community they live in too. 

“Learning about our local area while walking with children in local woodlands.” Lisa Punter, Pontyclun

The over 70s were more likely to be reading books, while families, young people and colleagues had less spare time to learn new skills. 

Staying Active  

To stay active, the majority of members have been walking, running or cycling. Younger members, in particular, have been taking part in online exercise classes and even dancing along to music at home. 

“Almost becoming a little obsessed with exercise and now taking part in a half marathon online activity with my three boys.” Elizabeth Wilson, York 

“I’ve been making myself do 15 mins per hour – even if it’s just going up and down stairs, stretching or walking to the bottom of the garden.” Sharon Webster, Barnsley 

Two-thirds of members (and three quarters of the over 70s) told us they’d taken up gardening, while the idea of puzzles or mental challenges was also popular with both older and younger members. 

“Puzzle books, now you’re talking. I am on my 6th copy of the Puzzler since lockdown began; love a crossword.” Joseph Oxley, Manchester 

Giving 

More than half of members have donated to charity, delivered cards, gifts, or food to a friend or neighbour, and have been giving thanks. 

“Randomly putting bars of chocolate through other people’s doors with a ‘random act of kindness’ note on it.” Claire Walton, Northampton 

Sowhat’s next? 

To help support their wellbeing, members told us they are looking for new ways to connect and would like more opportunities to learn. 

Almost a quarter of members indicated they’d be interested in getting involved in an online quiz with Co-op. So, we’ve listened and in July we’re making it happen. Members can find out more and sign up here.

Around 750 members offered to help us explore new ways to support members who have recently experienced bereavement, and some are already helping to trial an online bereavement group. Other members are willing to continue the conversation and we’ll soon be inviting them to take part in a chat online to help develop new ideas for us to support members’ mental health and wellbeing. 

Members are keen to participate in online puzzles or join us for live cooking or wine tasting sessions too, so look out soon for more of those. 

We now know so much more about how our members have been connecting, learning, keeping active and giving during the pandemic, and we’ve gained an insight into what we can do to support their wellbeing too.  

We are working through all of the findings, so keep an eye out for future updates from the Join In team. 

There are always opportunities for Co-op Members to get involved in shaping our Co-op. Head to your online Membership account to find out what opportunities are available right now. 

Mark Robinson-Field 
Member Participation Manager 

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