Manchester Co-operatives excited to celebrate Co-operatives United

Co-operatives from Manchester shared their excitement for the upcoming Co-operatives United conference in October, at a ‘Meet the Co-ops’ event held this week. 

Co-operatives from Manchester shared their excitement for the upcoming Co-operatives United conference in October, at a ‘Meet the Co-ops’ event held this week.

Nine co-operatives including FC United, Unicorn Grocery and Carbon Co-op presented their co-operative story, while attendees sampled food from co-operative outlets such as Handmade Bakery and the Manchester Veg People.

The Manchester co-ops explained how important it was to them to take part in the biggest co-operative event in the world on their doorstep.

Debbie Clarke from Unicorn Grocery said: “It’s really exciting, especially with the Rochdale pioneers and that association with co-operation being rooted in the North of England, it's lovely to see it coming home and being celebrated here.”

“I think tonight has demonstrated just how many co-ops there are in Manchester, in such a wide variety of sectors. Hopefully Co-operatives United will showcase them, as well as all the ones that are coming internationally and across Britain.”

FC United is a co-operative football association attempting to change the way people view football and co-operation. They have recently implemented a new food policy for their games, to help provide local sustainable food at matches.

Phil Frampton, a member of FC United, is looking forward to the opportunities Co-ops United will bring.

Phil Frampton from FC United.

He said: “It’s great exposure for us for people all the world to see that Britain also has a reasonably co-operative football movement, because in Germany for example all the leading teams are co-ops, it’s the case mainly in Spain, but here it's just beginning to show what the co-operative movement can do for football.”

He added that their football co-op is “committed to changing the world for young people in Manchester” and it can help inspire young people to change their lives and get involved in co-operation. 

Carbon Co-op are about to launch a £250,000 Green Deal pilot in association with Manchester City Council, a people-powered project to reduce carbon emissions and energy bills.

Jonathan Atkinson, from Carbon Co-op, feels Co-ops United is a unique and special event. He said: “Our co-op is all about sharing technologies, sharing understanding, working together to solve these very complex problems that people around the world face so I’m really looking forward to it.”

A fairly recent co-operative, Manchester Veg People, who only started trading in May last year is also excited about the event. Katie Brandon said: “It’s really exciting for a co-op that’s based in Manchester to see everybody coming here to our city, to have so much inspiration and to get loads of tips and meet people.”

The Meet the Co-ops event was the fourth year in a series of events by Unicorn grocery and was organised to celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives.

Debbie Clarke added that she was most looking forward to Co-operation Street at the Co-op United event: “I really like the idea of a town that is made up of co-ops. It’s like living in a little fantasy world. I am quite excited about that.”

The co-operatives speaking at Meet the Co-ops were: the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, the Co-operative College, Handmade Bakery, Unicorn Grocery, Loop Systems Co-op, FC United, Manchester Veg People, Oromo Coffee company, Carbon Co-op and Tree Station.

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