CorpComms Awards

Best community initiative

Joint Winner 2021
Neighbour of the Year
Co-op Insurance

As a mutual rooted in the community, Co-op was keen to understand the impact of Covid-19 on local communities. Its multi-layered approach initially drew upon its own business data to create bespoke consumer research that asked UK adults their views on the communities in which they lived.

Partnering with Neighbourhood Watch, Co-op Insurance also went further to bring its research to life with the launch of its second Neighbour of the Year competition. A call for nominations was made through the media and via Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch’s social channels.

After nominations closed, each entry was reviewed in line with robust judging criteria and a shortlist was created, which was reviewed by Co-op’s head of communities, Neighbourhood Watch’s chief executive John Hayward-Cripps and Co-op’s head of home insurance Caroline Hunter.

They identified nine regional winners and a national winner, Hull-based Shaun Blagdon. As the nation went into lockdown, he rallied his neighbours to form a network of 400 community volunteers to help support vulnerable and shielding neighbours. So successful was the scheme that it became part of the City of Hull’s official response.

Coronation Street actor Tina O’Brien produced a video congratulating Blagdon, which was shared on social media, who found out that he had won live on The One Show when the captain and vice-captain of Hull FC knocked on his door with the news.

Blagdon was interviewed on Sky News, Channel 5 News and Radio 4, while regional winners were interviewed by local broadcast and print media. Each article utilised Co-op’s research, including hyperlocal news angles. As an ongoing project, the research revealed that, while at the height of the pandemic 72 per cent of adults said they knew which neighbours were vulnerable or at risk, this had slipped to just 26 per cent eight months later.

63 per cent of people say that a good neighbour takes in parcels for them

With a budget of just £25,000, which included the research and microsite, Co-op had determined that 250 pieces of coverage, telling real life stories and showcasing Co-op Insurance as caring for the communities, would be a good outcome. In the event, 653 pieces of media coverage were generated – surpassing all expectations.

The judges described the initiative as ‘a very simple but clever idea, executed superbly’, adding: ‘It had a real feel-good angle that tapped into the mood of the country brilliantly.’