By Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community & Membership  

Two years ago, we were excited to kick off our partnership with Mind, SAMH and Inspire. All three organisations work tirelessly to improve mental wellbeing across the UK, bringing communities together in the process.

We had a challenging fundraising target of £6million in two years, but nobody could have predicted what was around the corner. When the pandemic hit, the landscape as we knew it completely changed.

This had a huge impact on mental wellbeing with more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) admitting the various restrictions and lockdowns caused a deterioration in their mental health. Despite the unexpected hurdles and the need to stop fundraising for a while, so many of you told us that this mattered more than ever. So we decided to increase our ambitious fundraising target and extend our timeframes.

Today I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached our revised target – raising over £8 million! This is a huge achievement and everyone involved should be incredibly proud, I know I certainly am!

How you did it

Every penny raised is thanks to the commitment and dedication of you, our fantastic colleagues. Your creativity never ceased to amaze in the many different ways you dug deep to raise money.

The athletic amongst you took part in sponsored runs, walks and cycles including an epic 900 mile cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats. Other adventurous feats included a 20 mile roller-skating challenge and colleagues trekking to Everest Base Camp and Mount Toubkal in Morocco.

We’ve had all manner of fancy dress, from superheroes to festival chic and even a Klingon. Colleagues have organised walk and talk groups, Time to Talk day get-togethers and sit, knit and natter clubs. Others have brought their local communities together though fundraising festivals and sporting tournaments. 

There’s been book clubs, charity nights, tombolas, skydives, head shaves, golf days and more. There was even a donation from colleagues choosing to give their money instead of putting it in a vending machine!

The money raised is already making a difference

Your fundraising is already making a real difference to people’s lives demonstrating just how much supporting mental wellbeing is an integral part of our vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World.

I’m delighted to share that you’ve already helped over 12,000 people through over 50 new community mental wellbeing services across the UK. Four out of five (79%) feel their mental wellbeing has improved and they’re better able to cope with the challenges they’re faced with.

On a recent visit to Washington Mind Café Life we captured this short video. I think it perfectly showcases the impact the funds have on both local communities and the colleagues involved.

The good news doesn’t end there

On Time to Talk Day in February, we enabled almost 2 million more conversations about mental health. We’ve also signposted over 900,000 people so far to information, activities and support for mental wellbeing including through Co-operate, our online community centre, our Member Pioneers and our Funeralcare colleagues’ activity to support the bereaved.

Co-op Time to Talk event, Blackburn Rovers, Ewood Park. Group photo.

Last year we also launched new research, Together Through Tough Times, which showcased the vital role of community to all our mental wellbeing. We’ve been using this to call on government to build community resilience into post pandemic policies.

Your own mental health is so important 

From counselling with our provider Lifeworks available 24/7 through to GP services via our partner Smart Health for you and your family, there’s lots of support and resources available to you.

Research shows that helping and supporting others can have a positive impact on your own wellbeing. Even a small improvement can help you better manage your mental health. Download our ‘Be kind to your mind’ guide here for ways to support your own and others mental wellbeing. You can also look on Co-operate to find things to do and groups in your area to support your wellbeing.

The next steps

Our partnership with Mind, SAMH and Inspire doesn’t end here. We’re partnering until late next year to ensure the money raised continues to bring communities together to improve mental wellbeing.

None of these achievements would have been possible without you so again I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone for making it happen. You never once let the momentum falter, despite the challenges of the last two years, and thanks to your collective efforts, we can today celebrate hitting our target. And perhaps more importantly, be able to show you exactly how that money will change lives in local communities.