Co-op Group raises £1.5m to help tackle loneliness

The Co-op Group has raised over £1.5m for the Red Cross since its charity partnership began in September. The British Red Cross was chosen as the organisation’s charity of the...

The Co-op Group has raised over £1.5m for the Red Cross since its charity partnership began in September.

The British Red Cross was chosen as the organisation’s charity of the year after almost 80,000 members and employees voted on a shortlist of three. Almost half voted for the Red Cross and the campaign to tackle loneliness in communities throughout the UK.

Richard Pennycook, chief executive of the Group, said it was “a partnership between two movements that share values and principles”.

Announcing the figure at the Group’s AGM in Manchester on 21 May, Mr Pennycook said £1.5m was “a fantastic achievement – we’re on track to reach our £3.5m target next year”.

He added: “Loneliness is a silent killer – it’s the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes a day. And research from the universities of York, Manchester and Newcastle has shown that loneliness increases the risk of having a stroke or coronary artery disease by 30%.”

Weighing up the Co-operative difference

Writing in the Guardian last month, Mr Pennycook looked at the root of this crisis of loneliness. “For decades, society has become more and more focused on the individual, and less on the community. More ‘me’ and less ‘co-operative’.

“Co-ops, including our own, are about more than just economics – through our activities we can reconnect communities. Our movement has a strong history of campaigning.”

National Members' Council president Nick Crofts, British Red Cross CEO Mike Adamson (centre) and Richard Pennycook, Co-operative Group chief executive, at the Group's charity partner announcement
National Members’ Council president Nick Crofts, British Red Cross CEO Mike Adamson (centre) and Richard Pennycook, Co-operative Group chief executive, at the Group’s charity partner announcement in July 2015

Nick Crofts, president of the Co-operative Group’s national members’ council, said announcing the partnership with the British Red Cross was one of his personal highlights of 2015.

“Campaigning on social issues that matter to our members has always been a key part of the Co-op’s work,” he said.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, told conference delegates that loneliness was a “public health issue”.

“The British Red Cross is incredibly grateful and proud to be in partnership with The Co-operative,” he said.

Ahead of the AGM, The Group announced it would donate 50p to the charity for every member that voted. There were 100,000 votes cast at the annual meeting and elections, meaning an additional £50,000 will go directly to the British Red Cross.

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