Regional committees champion community engagement

Values and Principles Regional Committees have been actively promoting events across the UK. Members got the chance to find out more about these initiatives at the Group’s annual...

Values and Principles Regional Committees have been actively promoting events across the UK. Members got the chance to find out more about these initiatives at the Group’s annual Values and Principles (V&P) conference in Manchester.

The Central and Eastern Region engaged members and the public at the Edible Garden Show as part of the Grow Your Own campaign. The show reached potentially 18 mil people, while over the two exhibition days over 13,000 people came through the doors of the cookery theatre. As the main sponsor of the event, the Co-operative was able to offer members various prizes as well as two tickets for the price of one.

For next year the region started collaborating with the Alzheimer Society to create tolerance and provide understanding for people with dementia. The Central and Easters region is encouraging members to become a "dementia friend" by helping friends suffering from dementia. The Alzheimer society will provide training for members to become engaged. Although currently a local initiative, The Central and Eastern region is hoping to get other regions involved in their campaign.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the regional values and principles committee is inspiring young people to become entrepreneurial in business. Pupils gain entrepreneurial skills while learning about co-operative values and principles. They are also working in partnership with Take One Action film festival, organising film screenings and complementary engagement activities such as Q&As, talks and social events.

The North Region has developed a successful programme of history events to engage members with the co-operative heritage. More than 100 visitors came to their Co-operative History exhibition at Leeds City Museum. They also organised a vintage tea dance in Newcastle, featured in a live broadcast on Tyne Tees news, with an audience of 925,000. The event took place at Newcastle Discovery Museum, which used to be the distribution centre for over 100 Co-op stores across the region. The music for the event was also provided by a co-operative. Another successful initiative of the region was screening of “The Rochdale Pioneers” at the Helena Thompson Museum in Workington.

In the South East, the regional V&P committee took the decision to focus on specific themes of work and for Fairtrade Fortnight they had ice-cream vans giving ice cream for free. Instead of sponsoring festivals and large-scale events, the region is now focusing on membership events and activities delivered at their stores. In this way they can better assess how many customers they reach.

To celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives, they had film screenings of The Rochdale Pioneers. They also ran a bike maintenance project, with Co-op members getting a free checkout of their bikes.

The Welsh region embarked on a three-year project to support Wildlife Trusts, a member-led environmental organisation. The regional V&P committee decided to use the annual revenues from carrier bags to fund an environmental cause. The project was developed two years ago and fits with the government’s decision to drastically reduce the number of carrier bags given away in Wales. By charging 5p for every single carrier bag, the region has achieved an 87 per cent reduction in the usage of carrier bags and revenues of £250,000, double than what they had initially predicted. With similar levies being introduced in Scotland (2015) and England (2016), the region hopes to set the example of how revenues could be used to fund activities that would also help to engage members and employees.

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