We've been campaigning since 1994 on a wide range of issues relating to our Ethical Policies and we've donated more than £4 million to over 80 charities and organisations.
One of our first campaigns called for a ban on the use of landmines - now banned in 155 countries. Since then we've campaigned on a wide range of issues from Fairtrade to human rights, safer chemicals to youth poverty.
Thank you to all our customers who have supported our campaigns over the years - whether by taking part in our charity vote, signing petitions, writing to MPs or simply by doing business with us.
See how you can get involved with our current campaigns.
Defending Human Rights
Throughout 2008, The Co-operative Bank and Amnesty International joined forces to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) with a campaign to raise awareness and call for action on human rights issues.
60 years ago, United Nations member countries signed up to the UDHR, the basic principle being that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights. But today, basic human rights are increasingly being abused around the world.
As part of our campaign, we supported a number of activities:
Everybody - stand up for your rights!
The Co-operative Bank has supported 'Everybody', a fantastic short film from Amnesty International, using animation and live action to bring our human rights to life. Watch it here
Free Education Pack for schools
The Co-operative Bank has supported an education pack from Amnesty International, which was made available to secondary schools across the UK. The DVD pack 'Human Rights are our Rights' included lesson plans and information for use in the classroom. A Welsh language pack was also made available. Find out more
'My Rights' Passport
Together with Amnesty International, we produced a passport explaining the rights set out in the UDHR to which we are all entitled - including the right to life, liberty, security, freedom of opinion and expression.
- Mental Health - Launched October 1999 Changing minds and influencing the media
- Third World Debt - Rip it up, write it off - Launched April 1999 Rip it up, write it off
- The Arms Trade - Launched October 1998 Killing secrets
- Biodiversity - Launched 1998 An early warning system
- Why don't we recycle more? - Launched July 1998 Improving the environment
- Real Food - The Fairtrade Coffee Challenge - Launched April 1998 The Fairtrade Coffee challenge
- Human Rights - Launched January 1998 Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- See the person, not the disability - Launched July 1997 Changing attitudes towards disability
In partnership with charities and other specialist organisations, our campaign aimed to understand and tackle some of the issues surrounding youth poverty. Following research into the issue by the bank with children, teenagers and parents, our campaign activities were designed to build confidence and raise aspirations.
You want it, you got it!
Thanks to the success of our campaign, our work with young people was extended in to the 'You Want it: You Got it project' in 2002/03. Working with the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester, 20 groups of young people were given the opportunity and support to develop a range of exciting projects whilst also benefiting from team and personal development training.
The final element of the project in November 2003 involved 5 groups, who had successfully developed their initial ideas, collectively deciding how to allocate the remaining funding responsibly between themselves.
'You want it, you got it!' gave those groups taking part the chance to make a real success of their ideas, receiving both financial and practical support. The bank was awarded the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester's Community Stars Award for the project.
You voted, we donated
We divided our campaign donation amongst four charities according to the percentage of customer votes each received:
The Depaul Trust
Offering young people under 25 help with emergency shelter, housing, training and sometimes just a shoulder to lean on. Received £22,146
Webster Primary School
An inner city multi-ethnic school, working with children with children under seven and their families. Many have experienced significant disadvantage such as homelessness, or are refugees or victims of domestic violence. Received £7,382
A charity founded by Simon Weston OBE, providing personal development opportunities and support to 'status zero' young people (not in training, education or employment) from its UK wide Centres. Typically, around 80% of those involved return to education and employment. Received £22,146
The Kids Company
children relentlessly traumatised by neglect and emotional/physical abuse shut down their feelings in order not to feel pain. The Kid's Company's programmes provide loving adults who befriend and 'parent' children in need of food, clothing and human warmth. Received £22,146
Get involved with one of our latest campaigns.
In 2003/2004 we campaigned in partnership with WWF-UK for Safer Chemicals.
"We are all living in an unregulated global chemical experiment. People and wildlife around the world, from a new born in the UK to a polar bear in the Arctic, are exposed to a cocktail of industrial chemicals"
WWF - UK
Our Safer Chemicals campaign targeted chemicals that are persistent (meaning they don't readily break down) and bioaccumulative (meaning they tend to build up in living things, particularly in body fat).
Persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals have been found to contaminate not only wildlife and the environment but ourselves, breast milk and the unborn child.
Along with WWF-UK, our campaign called for them to be phased out and replaced with Safer Alternatives.
Why we campaigned
The bank's position on the manufacture of these chemicals is clear:
'We will not invest in any business whose core activity contributes to the manufacture of chemicals which are persistent in the environment and linked to long term health concerns' Ethical Policy Statement.
We have refused to invest in these companies for over five years. We know this is a position our customers support as 88% of you voted for it in our last Ethical Policy customer consultation (2001). To find out more see our Ethical Policy Statement. As well as refusing to invest in companies manufacturing these chemicals, the bank continues to phase-out its use of products (eg. fixtures and fittings, like carpets and paint) that contain them and seeks out alternatives.
- July 2003 - The bank funded biomonitoring tests of over 150 volunteers including Bank Staff, MPs and MEPs to demonstrate the presence of man-made chemicals in our blood. Everyone tested was found to be contaminated with a cocktail of man-made chemicals.
- January 2004 - We donated £100,000 to Surfers Against Sewage, Pesticide Action Network and Friends of the Earth to fund new work on Safer Chemicals.
- May 2004 - Our awareness-raising Safer Chemicals advertising campaign hit national press, reaching 1 in 3 of the population (see the ad).
- Hundreds of people took direct action as a result of the ads by writing to secretary of state, Margaret Beckett MP.
- January 2005 - we donated £110,000 to five charities working for safer chemicals. The Soil Association, HDRA The Organic Association, The Women's Environmental Network, Allergy UK and The Bhopal Medical Appeal each received a share of the donation in accordance with customer votes.
- We provided funding and support for the report 'Breast cancer: an environmental disease. The case for primary prevention'. The report became the basis for the 'No more breast cancer campaign'. More details at: www.nomorebreastcancer.org.uk
Trade Justice Campaign
We campaigned in partnership with Christian Aid for trade justice throughout 2005. The Trade Justice Campaign is a call for a change in the international rules governing trade. This allows poorer countries to have a chance to choose for themselves the policies that will help them trade their way out of poverty.
- We collected over 21,000 votes for the Trade Justice Campaign from our customers, staff and supporters.
- We ran a month-long advertising campaign in the national press to raise awareness of trade justice which generated many more votes for our Trade Justice Campaign. See the ad (PDF)
- We supported a Mass Lobby of Parliament for Trade Justice in November. More than 8,000 people met with over 375 MPs in the biggest ever lobby of Britain's Parliament.
- We supported the Global Week of Action for Trade Justice in April 2005. The Bank promoted the vote for Trade Justice in all our branches across the country, and we helped fund the 'Wake up to Trade Justice' overnight vigil in Westminster, attended by more than 25,000 campaigners.
- Our Chief Operating Officer, Sheila Macdonald visited Senegal with Christian Aid to see for herself how farmers there are suffering as a result of international trade policies.
- As the Campaign drew to a close at the end of 2005, we donated £118,000 to five charities, nominated and voted for by our customers. The donation was divided between ActionAid, War on Want, The World Development Movement, People & Planet and Traidcraft Exchange to fund trade justice work.
- The bank sponsored a high-level round table discussion on Trade Justice with the New Statesman, ahead of the World Trade Organisation talks in December. Download a PDF of a special supplement on the round-table here
Refugees: The Real Story
The aim of our Refugees campaign was to highlight the plight of genuine people fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in this country. We aimed to help change public perceptions and encourage people to be more open minded and understanding towards refugees and asylum seekers by telling the real stories.
Helping us tell the story
We wanted a really effective and attention-grabbing way of telling the refugees' story, so we enlisted the help of the brightest and most creative minds in the country, through the prestigious Design & Art Direction (D&AD) Student Awards. Their brief was to create a piece of awareness-raising advertising telling the real story of a refugee or asylum seeker. The result was used as our hard-hitting and thought-provoking national press campaign.
Taking the story to the community
A major problem facing refugees in this country is a lack of understanding amongst their new communities. Our campaign aimed to tackle this through a series of 'community cultural exchange events' staged in partnership with The Refugee Council and Refugee Action. The events brought refugees together with members of the local community, and local schools. This enabled the two communities to learn about each other first hand in a friendly and enjoyable environment. The events succeeded in generating refreshingly positive headlines in both local and national media.
You voted, we donated
Our campaign donations were divided amongst the following four charities according to the percentage of customer votes each received:
The Refugee Council
Provides a lifeline to asylum seekers dispersed around the UK, with support centres offering advice, English classes and outreach to the most vulnerable as well as hot meals, toiletries and help with travel. Received £21,780
The UK charity set up by UNHCR, raises funds and awareness about refugees around the world. Received £15,840
Builds strong networks in areas where there is little other support for refugees and provides practical help and advice to individuals and communities. Received £15,180
Provides free advice, legal representation and personal support to asylum-seekers and refuges as they go through the asylum process. Received £13,200
Find out about our campaigns.
Combating Climate Change
Throughout 2006 and 2007, we teamed up with Friends of the Earth's 'The Big Ask' as part of our Combating Climate Change campaign.
The campaign involved customers contacting their MP and asking them to support a strong Climate Change Bill for the UK Government.
As a result, over 22,000 of our customers lobbied their MP - in fact every single MP was lobbied by one of our customers.
In November 2008, the Climate Change Bill received Royal Assent and is now law. It is one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation ever to be passed in the UK.
The law means:
- Big cuts - at least 80% cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050.
- Monitoring - regular reporting to Parliament to check we're on track.
- Policy - government will have to consider climate impacts in all of it's policies.
- Solutions - clear direction will give business the confidence to invest in solutions to climate change.
You can read more about this fantastic result.