A National Youth Summit has been called by Co-operatives UK offering young people the chance to explore radical solutions to the big topics of the day – from job security and mental health, to climate action and ethical working.
The event will take place in Manchester on 11 July.
“This is one of the most challenging times to be a young person in the UK,” said Co-operatives UK CEO, Rose Marley.
“Young people are facing mental health problems and anxieties on a scale that we’ve not seen before across a generation. The National Youth Summit is for young people who know something isn’t right with the world and want to do something about it.”
Mental health, work, climate change and personal data concerns were revealed as the top issues on young people’s minds in a survey commissioned by Co-operatives UK earlier this year.
Delivered in partnership with the Co-op Foundation and The Co-operative College, with funding from the Co-op Bank, the Youth Summit will bring together hundreds of young people and organisations from across the UK to explore how co-operatives can respond to some of the challenges facing young people today, and help young people lead fulfilling lives.
“You don’t need to know about co-ops,” said Ms Marley. “This is a conversation starter for anyone under the age of 30 – or anyone who is already working with young people – who want to find out more about what a co-op is and the opportunities co-operative working and living can offer.”
Designed by a Youth Advisory Board, the day will involve workshops, debates and networking opportunities. Workshops include sustainable fashion from Stitched-Up, media training from Co-op News and empowering under-represented voices with the Co-operative College.
Attendees will also hear from Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Scottish Co‑operative Party chair Ben Proctor and grassroots music venue founder Lenny Watson in a Question Time-style event.
The event’s Youth Advisory Board, a group of young people already working for or inspired by co-ops, have laid out their hopes for the summit.
Advisory board member Christopher Roseby-Bunce, aka Buncey, is a worker-member at Suma Wholefoods and on the steering group of the Young Co-operators Network, and said he hopes the summit puts co-ops “on people’s radars” as a legitimate way of organising both businesses and communities”.
“You see people are starting to challenge the systems they contribute to and partake in,” he added, “but might not realise that there is already an alternative, co-operative approach to how society currently operates. This event will showcase successful co-operative achievements and try to forge the connections people need to take their first steps into the co-operative principles.”
Mahalia Flasz, who, as well as being on the Youth Advisory Board, is an asset planner at the Co-op Group and on its Young Members’ Board, said: “I hope this event opens the eyes of young people so they can discover how co-operatives are a genuine alternative for solving issues they face every day. There is so much to learn and discover about co-ops that can make a genuine difference to your life – from housing co-ops to addressing climate change and sustainability.
“I want more young people to understand how they can be empowered – and the opportunities a co-op can provide to help build a fulfilling life.”
Further details on the event and how to book can be found here.