OVER half a million co-operative members could benefit from a new regional co-operative network recently launched.
The co-op network called "4 Counties", which comprises of co-ops from Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, came together for their first meeting at a specially-arranged conference called Building the Base ? Co-operative perspectives for the future. The network has evolved from the now disbanded Anglia Co-operation Education Group.
The one-day conference included a diverse programme of workshops and activities led by Dynamix, a workers co-operative of trainers, the Suffolk School of Samba and the Education Department.
Conference participants included local councillors, teachers, officers from Colchester and East Essex Co-op Society, housing officers, youth organisations, education business partnerships, co-op members and voluntary sector organisations.
It is hoped that the network will forge closer working relationships and provide a platform to explore co-operative ways of working, as well as mutual support for all co-operatively minded organisations.
The days events focused on the similarities and differences between co-operatives, co-op solutions for different issues, vision for the future, delivering the co-op values and principles, exploring why and how co-operatives get involved in their local community, developing new co-operative business and networking across four counties.
There was widespread agreement that co-operative strategies offer many unique benefits in the area of community development and regeneration.
Organiser of the event, Jackie Bowis of Colchester and East Essex Co-op Society, said: "We couldn't have hoped for a better day. There was a massive amount of information shared between participants about projects and events already taking place and lots of ideas for joint-working in the future. It's far exceeded any hopes we had about what the day would deliver. "
The 4 Counties Co-op Network will continue to be developed through ongoing informal open meetings to be held 3 times a year. The next one will be held on Tuesday 20th January at 2pm in Ipswich. For more information telephone 01206 788 213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org