This week saw the Annual General Meeting of Co-operatives West Midlands. This Regional Co-operative Council exists to support and promote Co-op business and enterprise in the West Midlands.
The meeting was held online with over 20 co-operators in attendance and used a new video conferencing platform 'Online Meeting Co-operative' a great way to promote Co-operative technology.
Along with myself members of the Western Membership and Community Council were in attendance; Jeevan Jones, Shaz Rahman, Phil Beardmore, Richard Bickle and Ant Reid. Shaz below has written of his experience of the event
Before the AGM itself, we had a workshop that was designed to get the participants to talk to each other and share their stories, knowledge and experience we had two workshops, where we split into breakout rooms of three people. The first workshop was about talking about our experiences of co-operating either in a formal or informal setting, whilst the second workshop got us to think about what our co-operative gifts are. In both workshops we spoke with people that we would not necessarily know.
We also had brief speeches from representatives of different co-operatives. Chris Rigby spoke on behalf of the Big Solar Co-op. The Big Solar Co-op is a new co-op set up to find commercial sites to put solar panels on. The second speaker was Gareth Davis from Canalside Community Farm, who told us about his Community Supported Agriculture scheme. Canalside Community Farm has ten acres of land and provides the local community with seasonal veg boxes. The final speaker was Hannah Barrett from the Plunket Foundation. The Plunkett foundation provides funding for community businesses to solve problems that their communities suffer from. Community Businesses once they’ve been set up then become members of the Plunkett Foundation and continue to receive ongoing support.
Once the workshop had finished, we moved onto the formal business of the AGM where the Chair of Co-operative West Midlands, Nick Matthews provided a brief overview of the organisation’s activities over the year. Jeevan Jones, who is a Member of the Western Region Central England Co-op’s Membership and Community Council was nominated to join the Management Committee of Co-operatives West Midlands. Congratulations to Jeevan. Finally, the accounts were accepted and we had a few words about how successful Co-op West Midlands has been in adapting to online only working. Networking between the many co-ops has adapted and continued under difficult circumstances.