ACS Support for Loneliness Pledge

There are 46,955 local shops across Britain operating in urban, suburban and rural locations. This means convenience stores have a unique reach into every community, unlike any other business sector. Retailers are proactive in supporting their communities with 80% of independent retailers engaging in some form of community activity over the last year. Convenience retailers play a positive role in the fight to tackle loneliness, consciously or unconsciously, due to their place at the heart of the community serving people from all backgrounds and demographics.

ACS is supporting the Government’s Loneliness Strategy to enhance action from local shops to tackle loneliness. As a signatory to the Government’s Employer Pledge on loneliness, ACS has committed to:

  • Demonstrating leadership and enhancing retailers’ awareness of loneliness by measuring and monitoring progress on loneliness through ACS’ Colleague Survey.
  • Supporting people working in the convenience sector by sharing information from the Government and participating in the Loneliness Action Group. Sharing data on the impact of loneliness and information about how retailers can combat loneliness in the workplace.
  • Supporting sociable workplaces by showcasing good practice from retailers on tackling loneliness at ACS’ Heart of the Community Conference.

Understanding Loneliness

Research from the Co-op and British Red Cross demonstrates the serious impact of loneliness and social isolation. Key findings from their ‘Trapped in a Bubble’ report (2016) include:

  • over nine million people in the UK say they’re often or always lonely
  • loneliness affects all ages, not just older people
  • life changes such as retirement, loss of mobility, divorce or bereavement are key triggers for loneliness
  • 18% of people are always or often lonely
  • 75% of people who are always or often lonely don’t know where to turn for support
  • loneliness can have serious consequences for individuals but also for communities as those experiencing loneliness may withdraw
  • 92% of people think community has a role to play in supporting people experiencing loneliness
  • people prefer face-to-face support, for some this could be more intense one-on-one services and for others this may be less formal support – for example lunch clubs and community groups

Impact on business

Further research from the Co-op and New Economics Foundation shows the impact of loneliness to UK employers. Key findings from their ‘The Cost of Loneliness to UK Employers’ report include:

  • Absence from work because of illness associated with loneliness: £20 million per year
  • Absence from work because of the need to care for someone with a loneliness-related illness: £220 million per year
  • Lower productivity, because of lower job satisfaction associated with loneliness: £665 million per year
  • Staff turnover, because of lower job satisfaction associated with loneliness: £1.62 billion per year

Loneliness Action Group

ACS is a member of the Loneliness Action Group. The Action Group is a platform for charities, businesses and other organisations to come together to develop ideas and act to tackle loneliness in local communities.

Great Get Together

ACS is also a supporter of the Great Get Together campaign run by the Jo Cox Foundation. The campaign encourages social events over an annual weekend in June to unite communities and tackle loneliness. These events can include BBQs, fetes, coffee mornings and other events.

Examples of Retailers Tackling Loneliness

Hear how rural communities are making it their business to help local people from Plunkett Foundation on Vimeo.


Struggling with Loneliness?

Loneliness is an issue which affects many people and there are organisations out there who can help. As much as we want to showcase everyone’s stories, we want you to feel comfortable sharing. If you’re currently experiencing loneliness or mental health issues, here are some organisations who you can talk to:

Mind Call: 0300 123 3393 or Text: 86463

Mind’s tips for coping with loneliness

Samaritans Call: 116 123

For more information, contact Steve Dowling, ACS Public Affairs Manager, via steve.dowling@acs.org.uk.