Co-op Congress - inspiring

Co-op Congress - inspiring

Co-operative Congress - as part of Co-operatives Fortnight, Membership & Community Council members attended Co-operatives UK’s Co-op Congress in Birmingham on 14th/15th June, 2024.

It is important that members of the Councils have the opportunity to learn about the wider movement and meet others from across the sector.

This year we also had MCC members who attended the Youth Summit during which took place on the 15th June. 

Congress started with the introduction from Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK on how co-ops can continue to work together to promote our point of difference.  She highlighted that co-ops produce greater outcomes for society and praised the Co-ops who were adding value to their communities and that it was important that we continue to be a united movement.

 You can read the full report by the Co-operative News at

Quotes from the MCC members who attended Congress:

 Georgi Murray and Gemma Parkinson – Southern MCC - “Congress was such an eye opening event as the day began with an inspirational speech from Rose Marley, CEO of the co-operatives UK where she spoke about our key principles in detail.  We then witnessed a panel of CEO’s from co-operative businesses such as Co-op Group, First Milk, Nationwide and the one family where they all explained about their ci-operative businesses and explained the challenges and rewards of being one.

It was great to walk round the exhibitions and see our famous games such as “mind your money!” and being able to talk to the people about the game and explain how we use the game in the community.  It was also good to see our co-operative suppliers for stores in the exhibitions showcasing our Malawi Products.

Throughout the first day we heard the theme, “what is it to be co-operative” .  As the day went on I realised how many businesses are part of the co-operative movement because they stick to the key values & principles of what it is to be a co operative.

Later that evening we attended the International Supper which was sponsored by Central Coop, giving us a sample of Chinese, American and Italian cuisine.  Debbie Robinson spoke about the Malawi project and how our partnership has changed the lives of the people for the better and we watched a video of when Jane Avery visited Malawi.

On the Saturday we had the opportunity to attend the first Youth Summit which consisted of youth panels explaining how their businesses are part of the co-op movement, our very own Coalville Can was one of the panelists. During the session we had speakers and breakout sessions to discuss ideas of how to basically spread the word about the co op movement and how to make our own co op business which really highlighted the key principles.

This was a wonderful experience and such an insightful two days! "

Joanna West, Northern MCC – “It was great to attend Co-op Congress for the weekend. I’ve attended sessions on housing, community energy, membership, culture and creativity. Co-operatives truly do work across all sectors! 

 I was invited to attend the session on developing the next Co-operatives UK Hackathon, which will focus on creating a joined up digital infrastructure. 

 Overall there was an increased sense of hope that there will soon be a change in government and that a co-operative future could soon be a reality. Commitments to doubling the size of the co-operative sector were made throughout the weekend.”

 Mark Grayling, Northern MCC – “It was my first time at Congress and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good speakers and panels with interesting topics. There was lots of energy and it was a good networking event too. Great to catch up with old friends”.

Jack Twigg, Northern MCC – “My first experience of co-op congress and it did not disappoint.  I personally learned a lot from the weekend and it helped me to realise that i'm part of something much bigger than just a co-op name.

Many inspirational speakers shared their own experiences with the room on subjects such as community energy, fixing capitalism and how co-operatives can help with the housing crisis.

A highlight for me was the support surrounding Central Coops Malawi partnership, with representatives from Liberation sharing their vision for the future and a speech from Debbie Robinson rounding the support and contribution of everyone in attendance. 

A great weekend with some very interesting people”.

 Our thanks are recorded to Co-operatives UK for a successful Congress and continuing to engage with all sectors of the Co-operative Movement.

Written by Tanya Noon, Northern MCRO, with the contributions of the MCC members.