Co-operative Congress 2017 will look at how to reimagine the economy

The two-day event, organised by Co-operatives UK, looks at the challenges of the gig economy and includes workshops, awards and funding pitches

The national co-operative movement holds its gathering at the end of the month, to look at how “ to reimagine our work, our housing, our local communities”.

Co-operative Congress 2017 takes place at Unity Works, Wakefield, from 30 June – 1 July, and will look at the challenges posed to workers by the gig economy.

Organised by Co-operatives UK, the event features panel discussions, workshops, and Dragons’ Den-style pitches where co-op ventures can ask for funding.

The weekend also sees Co-op Press, publishers of the News, hold its AGM at the Unity Works, at 1.30pm on Friday, 30 June. After this, at 2.30pm, the News hosts its event Big Debate: Caring for the community in the face of crisis.

The debate will look at the various roles co-operatives play in caring for the community, from providing the tools to be more self-reliant through to intervention. Speakers include Jane Avery, CASE; Karen Wilkie, Co-operative Party; and Dr Kathrin Luddecke, Plunkett Foundation.

At Congress itself, keynote speakers will look at the gig economy and the changing nature of work. John Park, from Community – a trade union for the self-employed – will discuss the fight for the rights of growing number of freelancers in the face of job insecurity.

Sarah de Heusch, from SMart, will talk about her finance mutual, based in Belgium, provides security to more than 60,000 freelancers.

A panel discussion will look at how to transform the economy in a way that shares power and wealth more widely, and how co-operation can help tackle problems related to inequality, land, housing, jobs and public services.

Facilitated by Baroness Glenys Thornton, chief executive of the Young Foundation, the debate features Rachel Lawrence, principal director of communities and localities at the New Economics Foundation; Andy Wightman, Scottish Green Party MSP and land reform activist; and Ibon Zugasti, international projects manager at Mondragon Corporation, the world’s largest worker-owned business.

Ed Mayo speaking at a previous Co-operative Congress

And Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, will launch “Do it ourselves” – a strategy to strengthen and grow the UK’s co-operatives.

The weekend also offers workshops, networking opportunities and a chance to pitch your big co-op idea at a Dragons’s Den-style event, with £2,000 cash and £2,000 worth of mentor support up for grabs for the best ideas for new co-ops, or new products/services for existing co-ops.

The winners will also be announced for the co-operatives of the year award, with voting open for Leading Co-operative of the Year, Growing Co-operative of the Year and Inspiring Co-operative of the Year.

Places can be booked here. Ticket prices are:

  • Congress full (Friday and Saturday) – non-members: £185 +VAT; members: £130 +VAT
  • Congress day (Saturday only) – non-members: £130 +VAT; members: £90 +VAT
  • Drinks reception and meal (Friday evening only) – non-members: £57 +VAT; Members: £40 +VAT.
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