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Co-op Congress 2024

Help build a fairer economy at Co-op Congress 2024 by sharing ideas, gaining inspiration and taking action. This year's conference boasts a packed programme with dynamic speakers covering the topics that collectively we need to explore.

Co-op Congress 2024 takes place at The Eastside Rooms in Birmingham on Friday 14 June and Saturday 15 June. 

We have assembled a brilliant line-up of speakers for the UK's biggest and boldest movement-wide event. In addition to our main-room sessions there'll be a number of fringe events taking place.

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We're also holding the FREE National Youth Summit on Saturday 14 June at the same venue, aimed at young people (30 years or younger) involved with or curious about the future of co-operation!

Friday 14 June: Main room – 9.30am-4.10pm

Welcome

  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

Membership worth owning and conversations worth having

  • Grace Blakeley, Economics and politics commentator, journalist and author
  • Kenyatte Nelson, Chief Membership & Customer Officer, Co-op Group
  • Host: Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

The economy is not broken... it's working exactly as planned. Acclaimed journalist and economic commentator, Grace Blakeley, will open this session with a provocation designed to inspire discussion about collectivism (and why encouraging it threatens the status quo). Following on from Grace, who has authored several books, including Vulture Capitalism: Corporate Crimes, Backdoor Bailouts and the Death of Freedom, delegates will hear from Kenyatte Nelson on Co-op Group's exciting plans to challenge individualism and bring back 'the true meaning of co-operatives' to the UK. It’s a conversation we need to have. This session will be moderated by Co-operatives UK's Rose Marley.

The feeling is mutual

  • Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO, Co-op Group
  • Kevin Parry OBE, Society Chairman, Nationwide
  • Shelagh Hancock, CEO, First Milk
  • Jim Islam, CEO, One Family
  • Paul Dover, UK Agriculture Director, Arla
  • Host: Rebecca Harvey, Executive Editor, Co-op News

The Co-operative and Mutual Economy presented a compelling case for harnessing the potential for co-operatives AND mutuals. Annual income is more than doubled to £90 billion when mutuals, building societies and employee owned enterprises are added to co-operative figures. There's also more than 74 million memberships. Mutuals are good for the economy, good for workers and good for the customers they serve. So why can it be so hard to explain? And how do we work more closely together for mutually beneficial? Join leaders from leading co-operatives and mutuals for this ground-breaking session. 

Culture, creativity and worker co-ops: It's not just a job (it's a way of life)

  • Host: Lara Ratnaraja, cultural consultant and curator

In the 1990s, Prince – one of the most iconic musical talents of a generation – wrote ‘slave’ across his cheek in protest at the lack of control and ownership of his art. There is an argument that you free up your creativity when you feel like you have control of what happens to it. It’s how creatives ‘wear’ their business, rather than be burdened by it. So how do we better empower people in creative industries? 

We already have powerful examples – be it co-operative or employee owned – in the arts and culture sectors. Opportunities for strengthening the connection between these two worlds are boundless. Whether it's music venues uniting when their very existence is threatened, or freelance creatives joining forces to deliver work that speaks to their creative and moral ethos, we have incredibly inspiring examples.

Join us for this session to explore this natural coming together of two worlds. We will explore a unified ambition to bring ownership more clearly into the language and ethos of the UK creative and cultural sectors. We’ll also highlight a new initiative with West Midlands Combined Authority to invest specifically in this area of work.

Keynote: The need for co-operative growth

  • Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade
  • Introduced by the Co-operative Party

The Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade ends the first day of Co-op Congress 2024 with a rousing address focused on the need for co-operative growth – and what a Labour government would do to make it happen.

Law Commission review: Get involved

A 'once in a generation' opportunity to improve this essential body of law for the co-operative economy was announced at Co-op Congress 2023 by Andrew Griffith MP, then Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister. The preliminary stage is underway, with the Law Commission having exploratory conversations with stakeholders. Co-operatives UK's priority now is to ensure our members can participate fully in the review process, both directly and via our own work. Join this session to find out how your co-operative can get involved.

Community Ownership as the first resort

Featuring representatives from Reclaiming our Regional Economies (RORE) and the Save Birmingham Campaign.

More details TBA.

SORP: The new accounting needed for co-operatives

Vivian Woodell, CEO, Phone Co-op Foundation for Co-operative Innovation

Co-operatives UK AGM, 5-6pm

The Co-operatives UK AGM takes place from 5pm at Co-op Congress on Friday 14 June.

International Supper, 7.30-late

We're putting together an exciting mix of UK and international speakers for our ever-popular international supper. This Friday evening event features a drinks reception and two-course 'international buffet'.

SCROLL FOR SATURDAY SESSIONS

Co-operatives UK AGM
Join us for our AGM, taking place during Congress on Friday 14 June

Saturday 15 June: Main room – 9.30-4pm

Welcome

  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK
  • Debbie White, Chair, Co-op Group

Keynote on climate action: Dale Vince OBE

Since founding the world's first green energy company, Ecotricity, in 1996 Dale Vince OBE has been on a mission to change the face of the industry by leading the move away from fossil fuels towards renewables. Ahead of our opening session on energy, Dale will deliver a provocation on the need for an urgent eco revolution.

We have the power

  • Dale Vince OBE, green industrialist and Founder of Ecotricity
  • Michaela Cryar, Director, Younity
  • Shaz Rahman, Community Energy Birmingham
  • Eva Murray, Campaigns Officer, Co-operative Party
  • Host: John Robb, Musician and author

Following a provocation from Green Industrialist and founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince OBE, we explore how communities can wrestle power back into their own hands by owning and controlling renewables like solar panels we'll all be empowered to take action on the climate emergency. In this session Co-operative Party's Eva Murray and Younity's Michaela Cryar will explore the potential for community energy growth – and how co-operatives and their members can make a difference.

Co-operatives at the heart of communities: Solutions, challenges and where’s the support?

  • Host: Tom McNeil, Social Policy Campaigner
  • Speakers to be confirmed.

In recent years we've seen a significant shift in political agendas towards ‘Big Society’, ‘Levelling up’, localism and more. A measure of support - including financial - has filtered through but there is a sense that communities have just got on with it. Communities and ‘save our’ campaigns have stepped up and stepped in. Community ownership has played a significant role, with more than £210m raised to date through community shares. 

In this session - with a nod the upcoming general election - we'll explore the vision political parties need to have in order to better support this critical part of UK life. And we'll learn from communities that have been 'doing it for themselves'. 

The role of co-operation in the housing crisis

  • Blase Lambert, Chief Officer, Confederation of Co-operative Housing

More details coming soon.

Empowering co-operation – giving youth a voice

A session bringing delegates from the National Youth Summit to close both events with a session focused on how we give youth a voice across the co-operative movement. More details coming soon.

Reflections and close

  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

Law Commission review: Get involved

A 'once in a generation' opportunity to improve this essential body of law for the co-operative economy was announced at Co-op Congress 2023 by Andrew Griffith MP, then Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister. The preliminary stage is underway, with the Law Commission having exploratory conversations with stakeholders. Co-operatives UK's priority now is to ensure our members can participate fully in the review process, both directly and via our own work. Join this session to find out how your co-operative can get involved.

Community Ownership as the first resort

Featuring representatives from Reclaiming our Regional Economies (RORE) and the Save Birmingham Campaign.

More details TBA.

SORP: The new accounting needed for co-operatives

Vivian Woodell, CEO, Phone Co-op Foundation for Co-operative Innovation

Shaping the Co-operative Movement's policy priorities

Co-operatives UK's policy work is member-led and you can influence our future priorities. Ahead of Congress we canvassed the opinion of members through a short questionnaire. In this session you'll have the opportunity to discuss submissions and vote on policy priorities. Take part in our pre-Congress policy consultation.

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