This weekend Central England Co-operative are going to be co-hosting a venue called "The Exchange" at the Greenbelt Festival in Northamptonshire. Organised by our friends at Anthony Collins Solicitors, this is a space for conversation and reflection about the role of business in society, and how it can make a positive contribution to communities and the wider world.
I'm particularly pleased to be taking part in this initiative as someone who has attended the festival with a range of different organisations over the past 15 years. Back in 2012 I got a session onto the programme exploring co-operative solutions for a fairer world to mark the UN's International Year of Co-operatives and this year I'm going to be hosting a session called "Co-ops: Here to Stay, for Good".
If you can be up in time for a 9.30am start on Bank Holiday Monday, please join me and various co-operators who I'll be rounding up during the weekend. We'll be exploring what is distinctive about co-operatives compared with private businesses, the public sector or charitable/philanthropic ventures, what motivates people to get involved and the impact that co-ops can have on people's lives and the communities that we're part of.
Contributing to a festival that explores the links between faith and action, I'm looking forward to hearing how people feel that our personal values and shared values influence how we live, work and trade in the economy, and discuss how co-operatives can be a powerful tool to meet the common needs and aspirations that we share as human beings in the context of diversity of culture and belief.
Richard Bickle is an elected Director of Central England Co-operative. He is a founder member of Birmingham Film Co-op, Revolver Co-operative (a Fairtrade business and shares the ownership of a canal boat as part of the Jemima D Narrowboat Co-operative.