CHAIN, a new networking and support scheme initiated by the Co-operative Group and the Co-op College with the stated aim of building co-operative futures, has been officially launched in Manchester by the Group's Chief Executive Martin Beaumont and chair designate Bob Burlton.
The two leading co-operators outlined their vision for the future of the sector and endorsed Chain as an important initiative that would give younger Group employees a chance to come together to put new ideas forward for change.
Chain, which is being funded by the Co-op Group's Value and Principles Committee, is targeting employees aged 18-35, based in Greater Manchester. It aims to bring people together who care about where, why and how they work.
It offers the opportunity to meet like-minded people, to help people understand and express what makes co-operatives different and to share ideas, experiences and support each other in a friendly and social environment.
Alex Wilde, co-ordinator for the Young Co-op Network in Scotland, was also in attendance and gave an insight into the achievements of the Scottish Network since it was formed in 2002.
Since the launch, Chain has hosted a lunchtime event on MOCA ? Marketing our Co-operative Advantage, facilitated by Tom Webb from Global Co-operative Consulting, a guest speaker from Canada.
MOCA is based on the belief that living and effectively communicating co-operative values builds membership, increases sales and strengthens the financial stability of co-operatives.
Commenting on the launch of Chain, Mr Beaumont said: "From my perspective it is very encouraging that there were so many younger employees interested in the concept of a group like Chain.
"It was a great opportunity for me to meet some of our people in an informal setting and chat about how they see our organisation's future, especially as we had a common belief that the co-operative trading model was as valid in today's competitive environment as it has ever been in the past.
"If anyone thought about attending, but in the event decided not to, I would encourage them to look out for the next Chain event. As well as there being an intelligent and like-minded discussion of relevant topics, there was also a noticeable determination to have some fun, and the fairly-traded wine flowed freely!"
More events are planned in the future. Anyone in the Greater Manchester area who would like more information on Chain, should contact Simon Plunkett on 0161 246 2492 or Amanda Sharp on 0161 246 2958 or e-mail Chain.