Co-operatives UK has appointed a new chair, Don Morris, replacing Nick Matthews, who has stepped down after six years.
Mr Morris said: “I take on this challenge at the beginning of Co-op Fortnight, as we showcase the ways that co-ops across the UK have supported their communities during the pandemic, and look towards rebuilding a fairer, greener and more inclusive economy.
“In this moment of crisis, co-ops are a great way for people to create decent new livelihoods, keep viable jobs in their community, breathe new life into local assets and enterprise, and convert newfound community spirit into transformative social action.
“Co-ops will be instrumental in helping our communities and country to build back better from Covid-19. We can help meet the biggest challenge of our time, by rapidly reducing environmental harms while still living in a way that engenders widespread wellbeing. And we can do it in ways that are fair, democratic, empowering and aspirational.”
Mr Morris, who has served as chief executive and secretary of Radstock Co-operative since 2008, has been on the board of Co-operatives UK for six years and has held the role of vice chair.
He took the role of chair at the apex body’s AGM, held online on Friday 17 June.
Mr Morris added: “I am excited to take up this role leading the board of the UK co-operative sector’s apex body, and express my thanks to Nick who has been an inspirational leader and who now takes up the role of vice chair.
“We have a brilliant and committed team at Co-operatives UK who are working tirelessly to support members during the crisis – clarifying and communicating government support, understanding where the gaps are and lobbying policymakers to ensure co-ops don’t miss out.
“Over the last few months, we’ve been able to ensure that societies benefit from the same insolvency reforms and general meetings flexibility as other types of business. We’ve also secured emergency funding for community-owned co-ops and provided practical advice on HR and governance for hundreds of co-ops as new packages of support and government guidance are announced.”
Mr Morris called on co-operators to work together to build a better society as the UK rebuilds from the Covid-19 crisis.
“Working closely with our members, we now turn our attention to rebuilding, and later this week we will launch a briefing, outlining four co-op offers that policy makers and funders can implement when looking for solutions to build back better.
“I’m also taking up this role at a time when we are searching for a new chief executive who will have the exciting opportunity to shape the future of Co-operatives UK and be the voice for the Britain’s 7,000 co-ops. In the meantime, the management team are collectively leading the team, with support from myself and the board.
“I thank them, our board and our members for all of their hard work and co-operation as we look towards building something better together.”