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Scene from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness sessionYesterday we helped the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness bring other businesses and organisations together, at an employer networking event in London.

As the first business on the Commission, our Directors Rufus Olins and Paul Gerrard were there to encourage other employers to tackle loneliness in their communities and workplaces, and to share the things we’ve learned on our two year journey.

The event was hosted by the Co-op and Commission Co-Chair and friend of Jo’s, Rachel Reeves MP, and attendees included our loneliness campaign partner the British Red Cross, as well as representatives from organisations including BT, Business In the Community, Lloyd’s of London and the NHS.

Rufus Olins speaking at the event

Rufus Olins speaking at the event

Rufus spoke about our plans to help other businesses get on board, so that one day fewer people feel lonely, and those who do know there’s no stigma, and that they can easily access help.

He also talked about the responsibility businesses and employers have to tackle loneliness in their workplaces – because as well as being the right thing to do, it makes economic sense too, as our recent report into the economic costs of loneliness shows.

The group was also told how we’re responding to the challenge of loneliness as a business:

  • Through our funeral businesses, we run social groups for the bereaved
  • Through our insurance businesses we support neighbourhood watch groups
  • Through our employee assistance programme we support colleagues experiencing loneliness
  • Through our Co-op Local Fund we donate 1% of own brand sales to local community groups to strengthen communities. To date we’ve given away £9m – £1.6m of which has been used to support charities that tackle social isolation and loneliness

Banner displaying Jo Cox quote on lonelinessPaul Gerrard said: “It was a great event and the discussion in the room focused on how customer facing businesses that engage with people every single day, are the first point in identifying those who are lonely, and helping them get support.”

Rachel Reeves MP said: “It’s brilliant that the Co-op has been so passionate about tacking loneliness. As well as raising over £6million pounds it’s great to have them on the Commission.”

The next step in the campaign is to follow up with all the employers who attended and find out the things they already do, and areas we can work together. This will shape the next stage of our work with the Commission.