Since 2017, Co-op Legal Services and Funeralcare have supported our work by raising funds from sales of their special packages, including wills and lasting power of attorney – as well as through the generous donations of their customers. They’ve also helped generate a significant sum in pledged donations as one of the providers for our Free Will Service. As they celebrate reaching £200,000 raised for life-saving cancer research, Head of Corporate Partnerships, Jonathan Appleby, and Head of Wills, James Antoniou, tell us what our partnership means to them.
What does social responsibility mean to you?
JONATHAN: The Co-operative Group has a long history of taking the lead on the issues that matter most to our members, from being one of the first businesses to recognise the need to tackle climate change, to our many ‘Fairtrade firsts’ and our campaigns for social justice. Its values and principles are as relevant today as they were when we were founded in 1844, and they remain at the heart of our thinking about the challenges facing society today. Our vision, ‘co-operating for a fairer world’, supports our planning for a successful and sustainable Co-op that maximises the value we generate for members, communities and other stakeholders.
Why did you choose to partner with us?
JONATHAN: We’re proud to work with an amazing charity that works hard to fight cancer and support those affected by it. At Co-op Legal Services, we look to ensure clear synergies between our partners and the values and ethics of our own operation. Clearly, with Cancer Research UK there is this parity. Our mission is to make legal services accessible to more people and by partnering with the charity, we’re able to deliver this while helping to fund further research into cancer.
What makes a successful partnership?
JONATHAN: For me, there are many factors. First, there need to be shared objectives that meet a genuine customer need and, in the case of Cancer Research UK, support a cause that is close to our customers’ hearts. Second, it’s vital to establish clear lines of communication between organisations. Third, partnerships need to evolve. It’s important to always seek ways for a partnership to grow and adapt to the changing environment to ensure that it remains relevant. We’re thrilled to have reached the £200,000 milestone thanks to the support of our customers and colleagues. And there are many opportunities for our partnership to evolve – we look forward to continuing this journey.
Finally, and this is particularly important with legal services, the partnership must always act in the best interests of the customer. Any partnership recommending a legal service to a potential client must be transparent in terms of what it is and how it delivers on the client’s need. For wills, this means providing suitable advice on the best will for the customer and ensuring that the detail and protection are checked.
Why has the pandemic prompted a jump in demand for wills?
JAMES: I think a combination of factors are involved. Clearly, the high infection and death rates reported in the media have accelerated people’s decisions to get their affairs in order and make a will. I also believe the national lockdowns and the Government’s furlough scheme have given people more time than ever to consider their own wishes and to put their wills in place. More and more people are recognising the importance of making a will as the only way to choose how you want your money and assets to be distributed following your death. Without a valid will in place, the law will make this decision for you based on the value of your estate and the categories of relatives that are still alive after you’ve died.
What are your hopes for the future of cancer research? And for the future of our partnership?
JAMES: I imagine every single person in the country has lost a loved one to cancer or knows of someone who has received treatment. Cancer impacts all of us and my hope is that, collectively, we can contribute and raise funds for research to help improve survival and ultimately find cures. I’m very proud of our partnership with Cancer Research UK because I know that the contribution that Co-op Legal Services has made and continues to make is helping to give us all a better chance of beating cancer.
Edward Bowers is a senior partnership relations executive at Cancer Research UK