Business Charity Awards: Charity Partnership, Consumer Goods, Food & Beverage - the Co-op with the British Red Cross

For an outstanding partnership between a company in the consumer goods or food and beverage sectors and a UK charity

The Red Cross worked to tackle loneliness
The Red Cross worked to tackle loneliness

What is the partnership?

Loneliness is reported to be as bad for our health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The Co-op teamed up with the British Red Cross to change perceptions about loneliness and introduce innovative new services to tackle the problem. It aimed to inspire volunteers, raise funds and campaign to change policy.

What did the company do?

Every Co-op store took part in an 18-month programme of national and local events, in-store marketing and supplier activities. The retailer undertook detailed research to discover how best to spend funds raised, commissioning one of the largest-ever studies of loneliness. The BRC used the funds to introduce new services for adults of all ages, and Co-op members supported these as volunteers, significantly reducing spending on recruitment and freeing additional budget for service delivery.

The Co-op also became a founding partnersof the high-profile Commission on Loneliness established by the late MP Jo Cox, and its research was central to the commission’s year-long campaign. The retailer also played a key role in developing nationwide cross-government loneliness strategies in Scotland and Wales

Why did it win?

The Co-op raised £6.5m to fund action to tackle loneliness, £3m more than its original target. Part of the money has gone to fund a network of "community connectors" across the UK, helping thousands of lonely people reconnect with their communities.

More than 600 people have been inspired to volunteer to tackle loneliness in their communities. The service is having a positive impact, with nine out of 10 users reporting positive changes in their lives and two-thirds moving from "lonely" to "not lonely".

Finalists

Dulux UK with the Outward Bound Trust

BRITA UK with Whale and Dolphin Conservation UK

Iceland with the Alzheimer's Society

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