Working together to tackle loneliness across the UK.
From 2015 to 2019, the Co-op and the British Red Cross worked in partnership to raise awareness and launch services to tackle loneliness and social isolation in communities across the UK.
This innovative partnership:
- raised £6.7 million through a wide range of fundraising activities
- worked with nearly 12,000 people experiencing loneliness and social isolation, supporting them to reconnect with their communities
- ran social prescribing-style connecting communities services in nearly 40 locations across all four nations of the UK
- produced a number of ground-breaking research reports on loneliness.
Together British Red Cross and Co-op created and delivered bespoke connecting communities services, developed from our ground-breaking research, to offer support for up to 12 weeks to individuals who were experiencing or at risk of loneliness.
Through tailored support, our staff and volunteers supported vulnerable people to rediscover their interests, build self-confidence and make new social connections.
An evaluation of our service found 71 per cent of people who used connecting communities felt less lonely following our support, with 76 per cent having improved wellbeing.
Find out more about our work on loneliness.
Together British Red Cross and Co-op campaigned to raise awareness and tackle loneliness and for the issue to remain on the political agenda.
British Red Cross and Co-op co-chaired the Loneliness Action Group, bringing together 60 organisations from the public, private and charitable sector to share learning on loneliness and ensure the issue remains on the public agenda.
The British Red Cross and Co-op partnership also supported the Loneliness All Party Parliamentary Group, a cross-party working group looking at developing policy on the issue.
To date, major progress has been made in campaigning for political commitment to tackle loneliness through the appointment of a Loneliness Minister and the launch of the Loneliness Strategy for England with similar work in the devolved nations.
British Red Cross and Co-op will continue to campaign for greater political commitment to tackling loneliness during 2020.
The British Red Cross and Co-op partnership produced a number of ground-breaking and innovative research reports into the causes of loneliness and best-practice methods to tackle it. They include:
- Trapped in a bubble: an investigation into triggers for loneliness in the UK
- Fulfilling the promise: how social prescribing can most effectively tackle loneliness
- Barriers to belonging: an exploration of loneliness among people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds
See more of our research on loneliness in partnership with Co-op.
Daniel was referred to Michael, the Community Connector for Blyth, Northumberland, by his local adult social services.
Daniel was experiencing high levels of anxiety, having been bullied at school and then at work.
Consequently, he rarely left the house and felt very low.
In exploring potential hobbies and interests that would help Daniel to reconnect, Michael learned about his interest in the outdoors and arranged for visit a local falconry centre.
After a successful introduction and a period of ongoing support, Daniel now volunteers at the centre for up to four days a week, travelling there independently on public transport. He has impressed the centre’s owner with his attitude and commitment to learning.
Volunteering has increased Daniel’s sense of self confidence and he is now feeling much more positive about life.
Daniel said: “I was staying in the house all the time, not going out.
“The first bird I held [at the falconry centre] was Jessica. Once I held Jessica, I was like ‘I’m in love with this place’.
“I’ve come out of my shell, I can talk to people now.”
Community Connector Michael said: “It’s a case of finding out what someone is interested in. And then finding them some way of getting them back involved.
“The change [after visiting the falconry centre] was amazing.
“For a young man who had not left the house for 12 months, I believe we made great progress.”