At a time when a quarter of the population experience mental health problems, the Co-op today (10 October) announced a new charity partnership to support its commitment to tackle mental wellbeing for its colleagues and communities across the UK.

The Co-op will be working with Mind in England and Wales, SAMH in Scotland and Inspire in Northern Ireland to help people to develop the skills needed to effectively support both their own and others’ mental health in their communities.

The Co-op aims to raise £6m through the partnership by engaging colleagues, members and customers in a range of national and local fundraising.

The initial focus will be on fundraising but the partnership will develop in order to enable the charities to deliver innovative new services in communities across the UK to ensure people receive the support they need.

Steve Murrells, the Co-op’s CEO said: “For decades mental health has been under reported and underfunded. It’s also one of those issues people still find difficult to talk about, despite the fact that it can affect any of us at any time. Indeed, research shows us that mental health issues effect 1 in 4 people each year. That’s 14 million people in the UK

“It not only feels right that as a Co-op we focus on this issue but our Community Wellbeing Index, which enables people to go on line and compare their community with 28,000 others across the country, has identified mental wellbeing as an area that needs our support.

“Supporting the issues surrounding mental wellbeing is a key part of our Co-operate 2022 plan and is interlinked to our other key focus areas, spaces and skills, to create healthier and happier communities.

“We are looking forward to working with Mind, SAMH and Inspire to bring communities together to improve mental wellbeing.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “We’re delighted to be forming a major partnership with the Co-op. As mental health begins to rise up the agenda, we are becoming more aware of the need to provide help and support to the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem every year, and support communities across the UK to build resilience.”

Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH, said: “We are excited to launch this fantastic new partnership with the Co-op, which will help communities come together to improve mental wellbeing across Scotland and beyond. We know that connecting with others, access to the right support and looking after your own mental and physical health are just some of the factors that can benefit mental wellbeing.

“Working with one of Scotland’s biggest retailers and funeral operators is an excellent opportunity to help communities make positive changes, and we thank the Co-op for recognising the importance.”

Kerry Anthony, CEO at Inspire said: “We are really delighted to be working with the Co-op on this important new partnership.  By choosing to focus on mental health in such a public way, the Co-op is making a strong anti-stigma statement, helping to open up important conversations and encouraging all of us to look after ourselves, our families and our communities.”

The Co-op aims to repeat with this campaign the success of its recent partnership with the British Red Cross, which through its pioneering research “ trapped in a bubble “  evidenced that isolation and loneliness is mainstream and affects  nine million people of all age groups across the UK regularly.  

During the campaign the Government appointed a minister with specific responsibility for loneliness and the “Connecting Communities” programme funded by the money raised by Co-op colleagues and members, enabled the British Red Cross to support more than 10,000 people.

Find out more about our charity partnership and how you can support Co-op here.