UK brings an international flavour to Co-operatives Fortnight

With 2012 having been named the International Year of Co-operatives by the United Nations, co-operatives across the UK are celebrating a special Co-operatives Fortnight.  

With 2012 having been named the International Year of Co-operatives by the United Nations, co-operatives across the UK are celebrating a special Co-operatives Fortnight.

There are over 1.4 million co-operative businesses across the world, with nearly 1 billion members enabling over 3 billion people secure their livelihood through co-operatives. In the UK, the 5,450 independent co-operative businesses have outperformed the UK economy as a whole, growing by 21% since the start of the financial crisis. This led to an agreement from government to introduce a Co-operatives Act by the end of this Parliament.

Among the various events taking place across the UK the main will be Co-operatives United, global festival of events and exhibitions set in Manchester, and the special Co-operation conference sponsored by the Co-operative Group ,which will also take place in Manchester between 3 and 5 of July at New Century Hall in Manchester and at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.

Co-operators from all over the world will be welcomed to Manchester and Rochdale for the international forum, which will explore how co-operatives in every sphere of life can emerge globally as a mainstreaming alternative for the 21st century. Click here, for full details of the programme and booking details.

The Co-operative Group’s will mark the International Day of Co-operatives in stores through the ‘Smile’ campaign that will show customers, members, colleagues and the local community how co-operatives make the world smile. The Co-operative Group will hold carnivals, fun days and “Passport to co-operation,” all part of the Co-operative Fortnight.

Co-operatives UK also organises the Co-operative Skills masterclass in partnership with some of the leading practitioners of Co-operative Skills. The event takes place on 3 July in London and places can be booked by contacting Giles Simon.

Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, Ed Mayo said on Co-operatives Fortnight: “This incredible range of activities to raise awareness of the co-operative sector across the UK is testament to the way in which co-operative businesses in the UK – in fact, the world – have come together as a movement.

“In particular, many of the activities we can look forward to over the coming weeks have been made possible because of the activities and generous financial contributions of supporters of Co-operatives UK’s International Year of Co-operatives campaign.

“I would like to thank these societies for support and, on their behalf, thank everyone who has plans for the coming weeks, for their hard work in making Co-operatives Fortnight a key point in our co-operative calendar,” added Mr Mayo.

Other co-operative sector-wide initiatives to look out for include the launch of the new ‘Co-operate’ app, the launch of the UK Co-operative Economy 2012 and a Financial Times special report on ‘Co-operative and Employee Owned Businesses’ sponsored by Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative Group.

“The fact that the Financial Times has chosen to focus on the co-operative and mutual sector illustrates that business leaders are fast waking up to the sustainable approach that co-operative businesses provide,” said Mr Mayo.

Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland will also celebrate Co-operatives Fortnight.

John Restakis, Executive Director of the British Columbia Co-operatives Association in Canada, will speak at several conferences and events about ‘Co-operative Solutions for Citizen-Directed Services’, during a four-day tour of Wales. For full information about all the events taking place and to book your place, please contact David Smith.

In Scotland, there will be a three-day Co-operative Carnival in New Lanark (14-16 June) and in Northern Ireland, The Co-operative Group is sponsoring the Co-operative Forum NI Conference on 28 June and will welcome the IYC Campervan at Ballycastle and Ballymena on 4 and 5 July.

In Wales, the comedian Mark Steele will perform a special gig on 6 July. There will be a co-operative family fun day in Morecambe on 1 July, whilst the South East will see a series of street parties.

Midcounties will also run many events across Co-operatives Fortnight, from pub quizzes to fun days. On the final day of the Fortnight, International Co-operatives Day, there will be closing events at Sedgley, Church Stretton, Old Town and Carterton stores.

From Wednesday 27 June until Saturday 7 July, Lincolnshire Co-operative is challenging colleagues to do their bit to make sure its iconic flag makes its way around its 75 food stores – covering a massive 425 miles on its way. Check out the Lincolnshire Co-operative website – – for more information.

From Saturday 23 June to Saturday 7 July 2012, in celebration of the achievement of 277 rural communities across the UK that have saved their local shops from closure by re-opening them under community ownership, the Plunkett Foundation has launched Community Shops Fortnight.

The Institute of Education in London will also hold a seminar on June 28 on the topic: “How should we research and teach co-operation? Is there a role for ‘co-operative studies’ in higher education? To book a place contact Tom Woodin.

On 29 June, co-operative researcher, Dr Rachael Vorberg-Rugh, will give this year’s Ian Pyper Memorial Lecture during Co-operatives Fortnight on Friday 29 June at the Birmingham & Midland Institute at 7pm. The 2012 lecture, organised by the UK Society for Co-operative Studies, is free to attend. For more information, contact Richard Bickle.

• Details on all the events for Co-operatives Fortnight can be found at

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