Tackling loneliness and isolation with Co-op
Co-op and the British Red Cross have teamed up to raise awareness and launch services to tackle loneliness and social isolation in communities across the UK.
This innovative partnership was announced in July 2015 and launched fully in October 2015 when Co-op members, colleagues and customers began a wide-ranging programme of local and national fundraising activities.
So far over £2 million has been raised towards an initial £3.5 million target through activities such as the hugely successful Big Red Weekend.
Alongside fundraising, we have focused on addressing gaps in the understanding of loneliness and social isolation.
Following a review of existing studies, we have been working on a detailed piece of research with around 30 health and social care experts and over 100 people who have experienced loneliness.
This piece of work will help ensure we have a clear understanding of the issues at hand, and inform where we can make the most difference.
Why loneliness and social isolation?
Loneliness is an increasing but under-recognised crisis that is shortening lives and eroding the health and wellbeing of people across the UK.
Loneliness is subjective. It’s a feeling that is very personal and some people may feel lonely even when they are around lots of people.
Social isolation is a bit different. It refers to someone who does not have a lot of contact with other people. They may feel lonely, too.
Either way, these negative feelings are impacting on people of all ages and backgrounds, across the UK.
The Red Cross has seen the impact it can have on people’s lives while delivering over 200 local independent living schemes around the UK.
- A Co-op survey found that two thirds of people would be uncomfortable confiding in a friend or family member that they feel lonely.
- One in seven of Co-op’s customers and members stated that they regularly feel lonely.
- One third knows someone in their family or community who is lonely.
Loneliness is indiscriminate and can affect anyone of any age. While there are local pockets of excellent support for people affected, provision is patchy and inconsistent. People often do not know where to turn.
What happens next?
Fundraising activities will continue towards the £3.5 million target including our next nationwide fundraising campaign this summer.
In autumn 2016 we will publish the findings of our research. This will help to ensure that our actions make the most difference and support those people who currently receive the least help.
Over the next year and beyond, we will work to deliver services to tackle the issues identified.
Together Co-op and the Red Cross will provide vital care and support to help reconnect thousands of isolated and lonely people with their communities. We will also campaign for change and ensure the voices of people experiencing loneliness are heard.