MANCHESTER United's Old Trafford Stadium is expected to host one of the biggest and most vibrant Co-op Congresses in recent years over the weekend May 21st to 23rd.
Organisers Co-operatives UK feel certain that the venue will prove a big hit with delegates and guests and point out that, with an overall capacity for around 1,600 people and more separate rooms for meetings, seminars and exhibitions than previous Manchester venue New Century House, Congress will have an open, relaxed feel to it this year.
Co-operatives UK are urging all the organisation's members to participate in the Movement's showpiece event and spokesman Graham Mitchell said that Congress 2004 will celebrate the diversity and strength of the co-operative sector under the banner: "Shared Values, Diverse Enterprise, Common Wealth."
Members are being encouraged to contribute suggestions for workshops, fringe meetings and conference debates – with formal proposals for plenary sessions to be submitted to Co-ops UK no later than March 13th.
Proposals accepted by the board of Co-ops UK will be circulated as soon as possible afterwards with any amendments being received by April 13.
Said Mr Mitchell: "We are currently planning a multi-stranded approach to Congress, enabling delegates to attend a themed series of workshops, fringe meetings and other events that sit together naturally and provide a route through the conference designed to cater to specific areas of interest."
Likely themes include youth, education, sustainanability, marketing the co-operative advantage, food, finance, diversity and equal opportunities.
Added Mr Mitchell: "We are keen to further expand on the number of fringe meetings and other parallel events that take place around and alongside the core conference and which contribute so much to the buzz of Congress as a whole."
Congress President will be former Lincoln Co-op Chief Executive and outgoing Co-operative Group chairman Keith Darwin, who was the sole nominee when Co-operatives UK invited nominations for the prestigious role in December.
*For further information on Congress 2004 or to arrange a fringe meeting or exhibition, contact Co-operatives UK's Congress & Events Manager Rita Butler on 0161 246 2908; email: [email protected]