Online co-op events to tackle legislation and the Green New Deal

The events are organised by Co-operatives Wales to mark Robert Owen Day and the International Day of Cooperatives

Co-operatives Wales, a representative body for the wider co-operative movement in Wales, is organising a pair of online events to mark important dates this spring and summer. 

On 11 May, to celebrate Robert Owen Day (the birthday of the Welsh early co-operator and social reformer), the organisation is convening a panel to share radical perspectives on the Law Commission’s review of Co-operative Law. Chaired by Labour/Co-op MS Mick Antoniw, it will see representatives from the social care, housing and energy sectors share their experiences.

Adrian Roper, former chief executive of Cartrefi Cymru, will describe his story of establishing a multi-stakeholder social care co-op, while Elaine Milford, of Hayes Point Collective Freehold Ltd, will present her experience of organising and applying co-operative principles in the housing sector. Joining the panel will be Cllr Mary Ann Brocklesby, former chair Awel Aman Tawe energy co-operative and current leader of Monmouthshire County Council.

Following this, James Wright (Co-operatives UK), Cliff Mills (Anthony Collins LLP) and Ian Adderley (UK Financial Conduct Authority) will discuss how creating the conditions for co-operative growth is vital for realising a bold vision for UK co-operation. 

In July, to mark the International Day of Cooperatives, Co-operatives Wales will host a debate on Power, the Climate and Transformation and argue the case for the Green New Deal, with Bethan Webber (chief executive, Cwmpas), Ann Pettifor (political economist) and Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour/Co-op leader of Vale of Glamorgan Council).

Co-operatives Wales secretary David Smith says the organisation aims to use annual calendar events such as the Robert Owen Day and International Day of Cooperatives “as a means of informing, enthusing, engaging, and dare I say entertaining a wider community in values based upon practical solutions offered by co-operatives and co-operation, re-energising our approach to co-operative education”.

He added: “Engagement with the grassroots is essential to reinvigorate our voluntary movement so we mobilise existing talent, using limited resources in ways that harness the idealism of the movement. People are crying out for a co-operative vision and political leadership. This has enabled us to test the relevance of co-operative ideas, using co-operative advocates in a variety of sectors.”

The organisation aims to focus on issues that are timely, relevant and which require collective thought, said Smith. Previous events have focused on heritage, but this year the focus has shifted to legislation and the environment as the Law Commission’s review gets under way and ecological issues come to the fore. 

“We have been blessed with the rich quality of contributions, including the late Chris Williams,” says Smith. “Our annual Robert Owen Day is beginning to be recognised and we have begun to stir up interest in his ideas in Wales and beyond. Our YouTube videos have made co-operative ideas more accessible to a wider community. Hopefully, we can encourage this type of bottom-up activity, networking and education more widely across the UK.”

Both events are free and hosted online. To reserve your tickets for either, click here.