All change for this year’s Co-operative Congress

Momentum is building for next month’s new-look Co-operative Congress in Birmingham, which will also mark the start of the second Co-operatives Fortnight.

Co-operative Congress — entitled The Power of Co-operation — has been given a facelift by organisers Co-operatives UK, to make it easier to share ideas.

The event, which will take place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole from 24-26 June, will see Co-operatives UK’s annual meeting moved from its traditional Sunday morning slot to Friday afternoon.

Following the meeting, Secretary General Ed Mayo will open Congress with his keynote speech, the Power of Co-operation. Said Mr Mayo: “With co-operatives and co-operation currently experiencing a renaissance and featuring highly on the political agenda, the weekend offers an ideal opportunity for people to touch and feel the Power of Co-operation.”

Other speakers on the Friday include Professor John Arnold talking about the co-operative economy and Mary Portas, star of the BBC’s Mary Queen of Shops, on retail vision and co-operation.

Co-operative Congress will also start Co-operatives Fortnight, the co-operative sector’s national campaign. Running from June 25th-July 9th, this will raise awareness of the benefits of co-operation.

Throughout the weekend, more than 50 ‘lite bite’ workshops will provide interactive, practical sessions held in hi-tech ‘pods’ in the main exhibition area, with themes including “promote”, “unite” and “innovate”.

Other highlights include an in-depth and interactive session on Saturday afternoon which reflects on the ten years since the Co-operative Commission took an independent look at the sector, and looks forward to the next ten years of co-operation.

Commission Chairman John Monks said in 2001 that the Co-operative Movement was at a crossroads and, with 60 recommendations within the report, discussed how to take the sector forward. 

Dame Pauline Green, President of International Co-operative Alliance, who was part of the Co-operative Commission, will look at how the sector has responded to the challenges set out in the commission report. 

Charles Gould, Director General of International Co-operative Alliance, will be on hand to set out the global context for the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012, and will look at the challenges and opportunities for the sector.

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