Southern MCC Celebrate Co-op Fortnight

Southern MCC Celebrate Co-op Fortnight

Our Southern Membership & Community Council fully embraced Co-op Fortnight (24th June - 7th July) with lots of events over the two weeks. Co-op Fortnight is organised by Co-operatives UK which is then brought to life through events and sharing stories on the power of co-operation. It is an opportunity for us all to share why we enjoy being part of a Co-op and this year's theme was "An Altogether Different Way of Doing Business".

Two of our younger members, Georgi Murray and Gemma Parkinson, attended their first Co-op Congress and Youth Summit, which this year took place in Birmingham.

Here's what they had to say about their experience “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 a family who all explained about their co-operative businesses and the challenges and rewards of being part of 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 other delegates 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, our CEO, 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 (previous Board Director) 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, and 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 spread the word about the co op movement and our own co op business, which really highlighted the key principles.

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

On another day during the fortnight, we partnered with our wonderful friends at the Workers Education Association to deliver our Co-op Values Workshop to members of the Belgrave & Neighbourhood Housing Co-op. The event was named "Dhamaka" meaning "Celebration" and in addition to the session, which gave members a greater understanding of what it means to be part of the Co-op, alongside our countries British Values, there was also an opportunity to visit the Food Hub, take part in a Yoga and Mendhi session, and of course eat some lovely food provided by Cental Co-op and a local independant retailer.

We also teamed up with retail and funeral colleagues, and area managers for a voluteering day. We were back with our firm friend and expert on the great outdoors, Rob Sayer from Leicester City Council. This year, we helped to clear Bushby Brook in Leicester by cutting back the brambles to enable the water to keep flowing. We had great fun putting on our waders as some of the depth of the brook reached waist height for us smaller ones! It is a great opportunity to take some time out of work and enjoy the company of colleagues, being outdoors and of course making a difference to the local community.

On the last day of the fortnight, we supported our colleague, Tanya Noon, based in the Northern region by delivering our Co-op Masterclass to a 100 students in a school in Nottingham. The masterclass gives young people an insight to co-operatives as a different way of doing business and gives them the opportunity to explore something that they are passionate about and planting an idea that it is possible to set up your own co-operative business. The day helps them to understand the values and principles of co-operatives and explore different skills that their group may have from accounting to marketing to IT etc. At the end of the day, the students presented their co-op to us, which also helped with confidence building and presentation skills.