The special Fortnight — aimed at highlighting the scope and relevance of co-operatives in all their forms — is to be co-ordinated by the Movement’s apex body, Co-operatives UK, and will follow the style and example of Fairtrade Fortnight, which has now been running successfully, and growing steadily, for 12 years.
The idea for a Co-operative Fortnight gained momentum at last year’s Congress at Old Windsor when a proposal tabled by Co-operative Group director Chris Herries was carried overwhelmingly after Ms Herries emphasised the need for a special designated event to promote the Movement’s aims and achievements to the wider public.
Ms Herries told delegates that co-operatives were sometimes described as the country’s “best kept secret” but insisted: “I never wanted to be part of a secret society, but I do want to change society.”
After consulting widely among its member organisations, Co-operatives UK has announced that the first Co-operative Fortnight — which is intended to become an annual event — will take place in the summer around the time of Congress 2010 in Plymouth.
The Fortnight will receive the enthusiastic support and involvement of most of the retail sector as well as from the wider Movement and Giles Simon, Co-operatives UK’s Communications and Development Officer, told the News that co-ops around the country had reacted very positively to the planned event.
“We intend it to be a ground-breaking initiative in which people from across the Co-operative Movement are brought together and mobilised to promote the relevance and success of co-operative business,” said Mr Simon. “The model for the Fortnight is based on Fairtrade Fortnight, Co-operative Week in Canada and Co-op Month in the USA. At a central level, Co-operatives UK — with key members and sponsors — will develop the Co-operative Fortnight brand, theme and key messages and a set of resources.
“These will then be disseminated to co-operatives and their members who can use these resources, messages and ideas to promote co-operation at a regional and local level.”
A formal launch date for the Co-operative Fortnight initiative and a campaign theme for the 2010 event were due to be announced as the News went to press.