Co-op movement gears up for a series of celebrations and centenaries

A look ahead to Co-op Congress, Co-op Fortnight and the International Day of Co-operatives

June and July contain some key dates in the co-op calendar, with celebrations of co-operation taking place in the UK and internationally – and some special anniversaries.

Co-op Congress (Friday 17 – Saturday 18 June)

The 2022 UK Co-op Congress has the theme ‘Empowering Co-operation’, and aims to “bring together those working to build a fairer economy to share ideas, get inspiration and take action”. The event will take place in Birmingham on 17-18 June, with some online elements. 

Speakers include the Co-op Group’s Interim CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq; Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester; Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire; Andy Street – former boss of employee-owned John Lewis, now mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority; Denise Scott-McDonald, Co-op Group; and Ian Adderley, FCA.

Denise Scott-McDonald of the Co-op Group

There will also be a workshop on how technology can enable a more robust co-operative economy and a session on the role of co-ops in creative industries. The 2022 Congress marks 100 years since the first female Congress chair; Liz McIvor from the Co-operative Heritage Trust will lead a session looking at how women have played a central role through co-operative history, from the first female member to the numerous achievements of the Co-operative Women’s Guild – leading to the influential positions held by women in today’s co-operative movement. 

On Saturday evening, the Congress Supper, sponsored by Central England Co-operative, will showcase international co-operation, from the work to support female workers in India, to empowering farmers in Malawi. 

Rose Marley, Co-operatives UK CEO, said: “Co-op Congress is such an important event. It’s where the movement comes together to debate and negotiate; to inspire and aspire. It’s also about action and without action the movement cannot move! 

“We’ve so much subject matter packed into two dates: tech, social care; the democratic economy; community shares; music; the co-op marque alongside a wonderful range of speakers.

“It’s also great that Congress is back as an in-person event – this year at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham. So come along, get involved and help build the movement.”

Co-op Fortnight (Monday 20 June – Sunday 3 July)

Congress is the kickstart to the UK’s Co-op Fortnight (Monday 20 June – 3 July 2022) – two weeks of celebrating co-ops and the impact they make for members. 

Ahead of the event, Co-operatives UK has launched a campaign to promote why people love co-ops and to unwrap the mystery behind them. 

The #UnwrapCoops campaign is asking members of co-ops to say what difference being part of a co-op makes to their lives by sharing their stories at www.unwrap.coop, either in words or even as a voice recording. They also encourage co-ops to ask their own members, customers, and workers to contribute their stories. 

Co-operatives UK will be using these words to help develop materials for Co-op Fortnight by engaging a team of artists and designers to produce work based on what they receive. 

International Day of Cooperatives (Saturday 2 July)

On the last Saturday of the fortnight, UK co-ops will join co-operatives around the world to celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives. A decade on from the UN International Year of Cooperatives, which showcased the unique contribution of co-operatives to making the world a better place, this year’s #CoopsDay slogan — Cooperatives Build a Better World— echoes the theme of the International Year.

The aim of the day is to increase awareness of co-operatives and promote the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has prepared an action pack filled with logos (in English, Spanish and French), social media digital resources and ideas to share stories, at coopsday.coop.

“Co-operatives are the only enterprise model with globally agreed principles that rest on a foundation of shared ethical values,” said Bruno Roelants, director general of the ICA.

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