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Soap stars signal the start of The Co-operative’s support for Mencap and Enable Scotland


Soap stars Natalie Cassidy and Alan Halsall joined forces to cheer on staff from across The Co-operative Group, as it started its year of fundraising for new Charity of the Year partner, Mencap and sister charity, ENABLE Scotland.

Natalie, a Mencap ambassador who plays Sonia Fowler Eastenders, is a two times winner of a British Soap Award and, was recently the focus of reality TV series, ‘Becoming a Mum’. While Alan is well known for his role as Tyrone Dobbs in Coronation Street – a character he has played for over 12 years.

Both pledged their support as The Co-operative embarks on a year-long, fun-filled programme of fundraising to help the charity to transform the lives of 20,000 young people in the UK with a learning disability.

With The Co-operative’s support, Mencap and ENABLE Scotland will launch a programme offering support to young people with a learning disability, including a range of volunteering opportunities, employment and community projects. The Co-operative is hoping to smash its previous Charity of the Year fundraising total which saw it raise £3.7million for RNID.

Speaking at the launch of the Charity of the Year partnership, Natalie Cassidy, who gave birth to daughter Eliza last September, said: “The Co-operative’s support will allow Mencap and ENABLE Scotland to give thousands of young people with a learning disability across the UK opportunities to play a more active part in their communities.

“Being a new mum myself, the need to support and invest in our young people feels more important than ever - every penny raised by The Co-operative can help to make a difference to someone’s life and I am delighted to support this partnership.”

Alan Halsall, added: “I wish The Co-operative’s staff, members and customers every success as they enjoy a year of fundraising for such a worthwhile cause.”

Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, added: “This partnership will play a key role in helping us to bring about a cultural shift in the way young people are viewed and treated in this country - a key objective of our Inspiring Young People programme.

“We are excited to be launching this partnership with Mencap and ENABLE Scotland - with the help of our supportive staff, members and customers, we can give 20,000 young people the opportunity to transform their lives by gaining the skills and confidence needed to play a more active part in society. Together we can make a massive difference to the lives of thousands of young people in the UK with a learning disability.”

Mark Goldring, Mencap’s Chief Executive, added: “We are delighted to be embarking on our Charity of the Year partnership with The Co-operative Group and, looking forward to working closely with its staff, members and customers to enable us to help as many young people as possible to aim high and fulfil their dreams.

“Having a learning disability should never mean that a young person is victimised or ignored. The Co-operative’s support will help us to empower young people with a learning disability to challenge these prejudices and inspire others to see the person and not the disability.”

Peter Scott, ENABLE Scotland’s Chief Executive, continued: “Our partnership with The Co-operative is a fantastic opportunity to transform the lives for a generation of young people with a learning disability. Every bit of support provided will make a tremendous and positive impact.

“A learning disability should not mean you are much more likely to be unemployed, to live in poverty or to be socially excluded, bullied and harassed, but it does - The Co-operative Group is helping Mencap and ENABLE Scotland to change that.”

The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of £14 billion, employs 120,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets, serving more than 20 million customers per week.

Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.

The Co-operative is the UK’s number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually, and is the UK’s largest farmer.

Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical Shop and The Co-operative Legal Services.

About Mencap

Mencap supports the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK and their families and carers. Mencap fights to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities, supporting thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
We are also one of the largest providers of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. See for more information.

About ENABLE Scotland

ENABLE Scotland is the country’s leading charity for children and adults with learning disabilities.
It is a member-led organisation. Local ENABLE branches are made up of volunteers, mostly people with learning disabilities and their families and carers.

ENABLE Scotland was formed in 1954 by a group of families whose lives were affected by learning disability.

It campaigns for people with learning disabilities to live full and independent lives. It also provides services to allow people to live, work and take part in their communities. Visit for more information.

About learning disability

A learning disability is caused by the way the brain develops before, during or shortly after birth. It is always lifelong and affects someone’s intellectual and social development. It used to be called mental handicap but this term is outdated and offensive. Learning disability is NOT a mental illness.

The term learning difficulty is often incorrectly used interchangeably with learning disability.

For media enquiries and images, contact:

Andrew Torr
The Co-operative Group Press Office
Tel: 0161 827 5622 0161 827 5622

Sonal Amin
Mencap PR Executive
Tel: 020 7696 5594


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