Earlier this year the British Red Cross supported Barbara in Paignton, Devon. She has mobility limitations that meant she could no longer leave the house. She had to give up work, her routine, and seeing friends and family. She completely lost her independence. This is why tackling loneliness and social isolation through our partnership with the Co-op is so important. Because people like Barbara are not alone.
Two things really matter now. Restoring the nation's largest co-operative to health, securing the jobs of thousands of employees; and seizing the opportunity that comes from an increased public profile to make the case for co-operative forms of business and service delivery, which have never been more needed.
It's been 20 years since I worked for the Co-Op. Or, to be more precise, the Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS). It was gratifying over those years to see the metamorphosis of the business from being a rather quaint, historic organisation that championed 'caring, sharing' co-operative values into a dynamic multi-faceted force on the High Street