An action plan for co-operatives over the next year has been built by over 250 co-operators at this year’s new-look Congress event.
Co-operative Congress – named Co-operation: How? by organisers Co-operatives UK – featured two sessions on how the sector can tackle identity and participation at the Birmingham Town Hall, which is part of a marketing co-operative.
In the run-up to the event, attendees took part in an online pitching session through the Co-operative News website, which was the event’s media partner. Fifteen proposals were put forward, which were whittled down to six pitches – ranked by the user engagement to each page (visitors, comments and votes).
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, praised how creative these proposals were in creating actions, as well as the feedback from delegates during the day.
He said that in the context of the International Co-operative Alliance’s Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade – which contains identity and participation sections – delegates have taken those themes and “fleshed them out in what can practically be done”.
In opening the event, BBC Breakfast journalist Steph McGovern (who facilitated the discussions), said that in a turbulent year for the sector, her television audience finds it difficult to distinguish between the Co-operative Group and co-operatives.
She said: “The general perception out there is that co-operatives are in a bit of a mess at the moment. Yet we know that there are over 6,000 of them and they’re doing great stuff from housing and farming to fashion and food. Part of today is talking about how we can get that message out there – about how co-operatives are doing is good and it’s got nothing to do with the Co-operative Group.”