A number of the co-operative sector’s central bodies are exploring ways to work together in an effort to cut costs and more strongly represent the movement.
Co-operative Press – publishers of the News – will be joining a number of meetings with Co-operatives UK, Co-operative College and the Co-operative Heritage Trust over the summer to discover different ways of working together to benefit the movement.
A statement was published during all organistions’ annual meetings in Birmingham recently, which said that in a period of “challenge for the co-operative sector”, this is a “time for new thinking”.
The four organisations are the central infrastructure bodies for the co-operative sector, which all live up to the mission to “diffuse a knowledge of the principles of co-operation” – as inscripted on the Holyoake House plaque (head office for all organisations).
Co-operatives UK secretary general Ed Mayo said: “This is a positive statement of intent, that we are open to new tools and new ways of working if these can deliver value for members in the context of a tough commercial climate. It is the right time to look forward in a spirit of innovation, open to change, to sustain our vital shared work to safeguard and champion the co-operative model of business.”
Mervyn Wilson, Co-operative College principal and chief executive, commented: “People often forget that Holyoake worked with the Rochdale Pioneers as they planned their venture. What made it a success was their confidence in what self-help could achieve, their readiness to learn from earlier efforts, the lessons of past failures in particular, and their readiness to adapt and change.
“The vision of those who established Holyoake House was of a centre to inspire, build, educate, propagate and when necessary defend co-operation. Working more closely together and being ready to adapt and change can help fulfil that vision – celebrating co-operative success, reflecting on challenges and inspiring and educating a new generation of co-operators.”
Anthony Murray, executive editor of Co-operative News, added: “By potentially combining some of the great work that each organisation produces for the sector, we can magnify our efforts and, with laser precision, produce much stronger results in a time of need for co-operatives.”
The core idea is to look at new ways of working more closely together, which could include improving the flow of information and advice for members; integrating events and training; improving the voice of the sector; saving money through back-office functions; and using technology to keep costs low.
Over the summer, all organistions will be discussing ideas and taking feedback from members.