Co-op Fortnight to bring the movement together in acts of co-operation

Activities range from a social media campaign to foodbank support and community engagement

Co-operative Fortnight (24 June – 7 July) is nearly here, with co-ops around the country working to raise awareness of the movement.

Co-operators are being urged to spread the message on social media using the hashtag #CoopFortnight – and there will be acts of co-operation around the country.

The Southern Co-operative will help Hampshire homelessness charity, Society of St James, launch an exciting initiative at its Cafe in the Park, in Portsmouth.

The cafe is a social enterprise, which Southern has volunteering its skills with the design and launch of its Pay It Forward donation campaign. The launch is on 2 July at 10.30am with the assistant police crime commissioner cutting the ribbon.

The initiative offers customers the chance to make a £2 donation which will buy a voucher that can be exchanged for a drink or seasonal snack at the cafe. Working with the Society of St James, outreach teams and recovery workers will ensure the voucher is given to someone facing multiple disadvantages, including homelessness, poverty and substance misuse.

Throughout June, Lincolnshire Co-op has been bringing colleagues and members together to look after the environment. One initiative cleared up some ground at Hartsholme Community Area in Lincoln, to create a community space between Lincoln United FC stadium and Hartsholme Cricket Club.

A similar initiative saw Lincolnshire volunteers at Warren Wood Specialist Academy in Gainsborough cut back and tidy an overgrown area, and plant bulbs ready for next spring.

Society staff and members also spruced up borders and planters around St Nicholas Church, in an attempt to help Holbeach retain its Gold ‘In Bloom’ 2018 status. They cut back trees and plants at Mayflower House in Boston and cleared out a greenhouse and a space for a vegetable patch.

Volunteers also removed 60kg of rubbish during a beach clean at Huttoft Beach, near Skegness.

Meanwhile, Central England Co-operative is inviting community groups and local projects into its food stores to promote, raise awareness or gather support for their local causes.

The retailer is also showcasing floristry and photography, organising food collections and hosting performance by a local amateur dramatic group in full costume.

And it is launching a food bank ‘shopping list’ across its 244 food stores, encouraging shoppers to pick one up before they start their shop and donate a few of the key items requested by food banks. These include cereal, tinned food, rice, toiletries and drinks such as tea, coffee and squash.

Chief executive Debbie Robinson said: “Co-op Fortnight is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate alongside our partners in the wider co-operative movement in the true spirit of co-operation and showcase our point of difference as a community-focused society.

“We can’t wait to welcome some of the many great local community groups, good causes and projects in to our stores, help them promote themselves and raise money, as well as showcasing some of the fantastic member groups we offer as a benefit of Central England Co-operative membership.

“We are also delighted to roll out the food bank shopping lists and encourage shoppers to join in with the co-operative spirit of Co-op Fortnight and donate an item or two to those in need.”

The co-op will also host Fairtrade football tournaments, educational conferences, community fun days and deliver workshops and assemblies.

Organised by Co-operatives UK, the fortnight was launched in 2012, and leads up to the International Day of Co-operatives on 6 July. To mark the day, the Co-op Group has teamed up with Locality to highlight the importance of community spaces.

Using a multi-channel approach, Co-op and Locality will be emphasising the theme of endangered spaces, encourage co-operation and get people to identify at-risk spaces and to act to help protect, improve and support these.

The initiative addresses some of the findings of the Co-op’s Community Wellbeing index, which shows communities are in danger of disappearing. For instance, 81 youth centres have closed in London and 500 playing fields will be lost by the end of the year.

The campaign will aim to capture striking images of impacted individuals, their communities and the at-risk spaces – playing to the ‘endangered’ theme.