Solidarity in 2017: How did the movement work together last year?

Co-ops were active in the UK and around the world helping those affected by loneliness and social exclusion, and supporting victims of war, floods and hurricanes

Response to the crisis in Yemen

Co-op Group members, colleagues and customers raised £68,000 for the crisis in Yemen, where months of civil war has left 18.8 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Responding to an alert from the Disaster Emergency Committee, the Group also directed £50,000 from donations generated by Co-op Fairbourne Springs bottled water to help provide clean water supplies for the country.

Helping to tackle loneliness

Over nine million people in the UK are experiencing loneliness. To tackle this, campaigners, supported by the Co-op Group, have launched the Jo Cox National Commission on Loneliness, with the aim of starting a national conversation about the scale and impact of loneliness in the country.

Flood and hurricane appeal

More than £136,000 has been raised by UK co-ops to support long-term co-operative reconstruction in South-East Asia which has been affected by floods and co-ops impacted by the hurricanes in the Caribbean. The emergency appeal was launched by Co-operatives UK, which will channel all the funds donated by UK co-operative organisations into on-the-ground support for co-ops and credit unions to provide sustainable and inclusive economic development.

Hurricane Irma leaves a trail of destruction across the Caribbean (Photo: NASA)

Post-hurricane support

Electric co-ops in the USA have joined a national effort across the power industry to support recovery efforts on Puerto Rico, which was left devastated in September by Hurricane Maria. Seven incident management teams (IMTs) will support ongoing power restoration efforts across the island. These IMTs, each comprising seven to 10 operations experts, will be assigned to seven key regions on the island and will coordinate with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Trolleys for children with special needs

The Channel Islands Co-op is using trolleys with seats big enough for to carry older children with special needs following a campaign by parents. The trolleys have seats big enough for older children will be placed in its St Helier and St Peter Grand Marché stores.

Action for flood victims

Nepalese co-operatives have set out a plan to help members affected by floods across 35 of the country’s districts. NACCFL, the Nepal Cooperative Central Federation Limited, has carried out relief activities that focus on providing access to basic health services, introducing income-generating activities providing vegetable seeds and seedlings for horticulture and building warehouses. It will give priority to co-operative members from the worst affected areas, particularly single women, disadvantaged groups and those highly dependent on agriculture.

Fairtrade commitment

The Co-op Group has made a commitment that 100% of the cocoa it buys for its own brand products will be Fairtrade – a first for UK retailers. This means that over 200 Co-op products will use Fairtrade cocoa, from the chocolate chips in its cookies to the cocoa used in cooking sauces and as a flavouring in its battered frozen fish. The move will mean a five-fold rise in the amount of Fairtrade cocoa sourced by the retailer each year, from 526 tonnes to 2,848 tonnes – equivalent in volume to over 50 double decker buses. According to the Group, this will generate an additional £400,000 for cocoa farming communities.

Integrating inclusion

Inclusion was the theme of this year’s International Day of Co-operatives on 1st July. Inclusion is a reflection of the people-focused nature of co-ops, and is also intrinsic to the movement’s principles of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control and member economic participation. The Alliance says: “Co-operatives provide a space where all people, regardless of race, gender, culture, social background or economic circumstance, can meet their needs and build better communities.”

• More from 2017 at 2017 In Review

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