Employees and members of the Co-operative Group have voted for the British Red Cross to be the organisation’s next charity partner.
They were asked to vote for one of three shortlisted charities, focusing on three issues affecting people in the UK: tackling loneliness with the British Red Cross, saving outdoor spaces with Groundwork, or transforming young lives with the Prince’s Trust.
Almost 80,000 people cast votes, with nearly half of them voting for the British Red Cross.
“The issue of social isolation in the communities we serve is huge,” said Co-operative Group chief executive, Richard Pennycook, in the announcement which took place at the Group’s Angel Square headquarters in Manchester. “We’re so immersed in the digital world, we can forget that there’s a real world right on our doorstep.”
My Pennycook added that this was not the first time the organisation had raised funds for the Red Cross. In 1945, the charity used money raised from the sale of own-brand Co-operative tea to help vulnerable people at home and overseas in the aftermath of World War II. “Seventy years on from that first partnership I’m delighted that we’re working with them again,” he said.
The mission of the British Red Cross is to “mobilise the power of humanity so that individuals and communities can prepare for, deal with and recover from a crisis”.
“The issue of isolation is a hidden crisis, but very real,” said Mike Adamson, chief executive of the charity, at the announcement. “It’s a consequence of people living longer lives on their own … but it’s not just the elderly, it affects young people, too. We need to move this issue up the public agenda and the local agenda.
“In the Red Cross we’re really excited about this partnership and the potential to help so many people’s lives. Together we can reconnect people. We need to work together to harvest the strengths of both our organisations.”
Research by the Co-operative Group reveals that one in seven of its customers and members say they are affected by social isolation and loneliness, while a third know know someone in both their family and community who is affected by loneliness. Almost a quarter (22%) will go over a week without being asked: “How are you?”
Concern for the community, and working for the sustainable development of communities through policies approved by members, is one of the core co-operative principles. The Group’s previous charity partners include RNID, Mencap and its sister charity ENABLE Scotland, and the Carers Trust.
“This is what the Co-operative difference is all about,” added Mr Pennycook. “We are standing up for what matters to our members and colleagues so that we can campaign for change and a better society.”
The Co-operative Group and the British Red Cross will now work to develop fundraising plans, which will be launched in September. They will also be announcing opportunities for volunteering, campaigning and other events later this year.