The Big Co-op Payout: Half a million reasons to say ‘thank you’ to Co-op Members

Friday 22 November 2019

By Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation

This week, the Co-op is delivering an incredible £17 million, raised by Co-op Members, to over 4,000 local causes across the UK. Thanks to every Co-op Member who chose to support Belong, our programme helping young people beat loneliness. 

Together, you have raised £268,547 over the past year to help us connect and empower young people. This means that since we launched Belong in 2017, more than £500,000 has been raised by Co-op Members UK-wide.

Every pound helps us tackle an issue that 65% of young people agree is a problem for their age group. Three young people, Saffron, Kathryn and Lizzie, share their stories below.

Co-op Members can continue to support our work every time you purchase Co-op products and services by choosing the Co-op Foundation as your new local cause. Alternatively, make a regular or one-off online donation.

Saffron: beating loneliness and boosting wellbeing

Saffron, 20, (above left) has been a member of Boxing Futures for the past 12 months. She joined to make new friends and to use boxing classes to improve her wellbeing.

As one of our Belong partners, Boxing Futures received a Co-op Foundation grant, which helped it work with Saffron and other young women to design a programme that combines physical exercise with peer support and discussions on loneliness. 

Saffron said: “Boxing Futures has helped me find a place where I feel safe. I used to be really lonely, I had no routine and my mental health wasn’t great. I feel like I have a family now. By working with other young people on this programme, my confidence has increased and it’s made a huge difference to my life.”

Kathryn: ‘It’s very worrying that people feel lonely at such an early age’ 

Kathryn, 17, has been involved with our Belong partner Ourside Youth Association since she was 12. Ourside has helped her make new friends, feel “part of something” and build more trusting relationships.

Five years on, Kathryn is a member of Ourside’s Young People’s Committee, which received a grant to design and run easy-to-access pop-up youth clubs in her local area. Kathryn helped to decide what these spaces and services should look like.

She said: “I hope the pop-up hubs give young people a feeling of belonging to something special and helps them realise that other young people can feel lonely, too. I’m excited to have been part of a team where I have developed my own leadership skills.”

Read more about how we’ve funded work with young people to improve the community spaces they care about

Lizzie: Making the move to secondary school less lonely

Lizzie moved up to secondary school at Co-op Academy Stoke this September. 

Starting a new school can be daunting, and loneliness is often linked to periods of transition. However, thanks to a grant to our Belong partner, music charity Make Some Noise, Lizzie arrived with a ready-made peer support group. 

She said: “I got involved because some older children came to my primary school last year to play music and talk about loneliness.

“They wanted people to join their group so we could show others they’re not alone.  We went to lots of different primary schools and it meant that when I transitioned to the academy in September, I was happy because I knew more people.”

Lizzie is now preparing to help other young people who will be moving up to secondary school next year. She said: “I want to make a difference to people who feel like I did in primary school. This project lets you know that even when you’re in transition, the door isn’t closed.”

What’s next?

We’re proud of the work we’ve done so far to tackle youth loneliness. With the help of Co-op Members and our other supporters and funding partners, we’ve awarded £6.5 million to Belong projects, developed resources that will strengthen local youth services, and launched Lonely, Not Alone – a campaign to help us all show we care about youth loneliness. Get involved in this campaign by watching our animation and wearing yellow socks. Find out why.

Over the coming year we’ll be expanding our work to improve people’s wellbeing, develop their skills and to improve local spaces – part of Co-op’s community plan, Co-operate 2022. If you’d like to support us, Co-op Members can choose Co-op Foundation as their new local cause. Every time you buy Co-op products and services, you’ll be raising funds to help communities across the UK.

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