Co-operative Group to tackle social isolation and loneliness with British Red Cross

July 20, 2015

Following a decisive vote by its members and colleagues, The Co-operative Group today (Monday 20 July) announces that it will partner with the British Red Cross to tackle social isolation and loneliness.

Over a two year period the Group 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.

Member Council President Nick Crofts, British Red Cross CEO Mike Adamson (centre) and Richard Pennycook, Co-operative Group CEO

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.”

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

Chris Sonne 07770 544721

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.

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)