The Co-operative Party has launched a UK mentoring scheme that aims to support women currently underrepresented within politics and the wider co-operative movement.
The scheme has been created in tribute to Chris Herries, who passed away unexpectedly last August.
“In 2020, the co-op movement lost a dear friend and colleague,” said a statement from the Co-op Party. “Chris Herries dedicated many years to our Party and the co-operative movement – and was particularly passionate about supporting gender equality.
“The Chris Herries Mentoring Scheme will give a cohort of women a unique opportunity to receive tailored one-to-one mentoring from experienced and exceptional women from across the co-operative movement.
“Together, we hope to encourage women from underrepresented backgrounds and communities to become active members within the Co-operative Party, the wider co-operative movement, elected office and their communities.
“We also hope to empower both mentors and mentees and ensure that the Co-operative Party has opportunities for diverse groups of women to develop their skill sets and progress in their personal, professional and political lives.”
The programme is scheduled to last for 10 months, with most meetings taking place virtually, although there may be opportunities for face to face events and meetings. Mentor relationships will be based on experiences, future goals and current commitments, and will involve regular meetings to ensure the relationship is sustained and goals are kept on track.
The programme is specifically aimed at women who may face additional barriers to engaging with and taking part in political life – such as ethnicity, disability, LGBTQ+ or age.
The Party emphasises that each application will be looked at individually and treated confidentially. “We are aware that other barriers not captured by our equalities networks exist, for example being a lone carer, your educational background or experiencing deprivation (to name a few),” it says.
“Together we hope to create a cohort of women who support and encourage each other.”