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National Youth Summit 2022

Youth summit banner pink 2022

The first National Youth Summit took place in July 2022 to introduce young people to a movement that empowers individuals and communities, giving a voice to all... 

Young people came together on Monday 11 July at The Studio in Manchester to explore radical solutions to the big topics of the day – and discover how to create a fairer future.

The National Youth Summit brought together young people, leaders, change-makers and creators to empower the younger generation through the principles of co‑operation. From job security to mental health and co‑operative and ethical working, it explored how co‑ops can enable the young people of today to become the leaders of tomorrow. 

See photos from the 2022 National Youth Summit
Youth Summit 2022

Inspirational speakers

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Ben Procter, Chair of the Scottish Co‑op Party, were among the speakers who explored empowering co‑operative solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges.

The big issues we tackled

  • Social issues: Mental health, job security and culture were addressed, as we considered how to provide solutions for the greatest concerns of our youth. 
  • The environment: What can the fashion industry teach us about our ethics and values? What can we do about climate change as a community?
  • The economy: The cost of living has risen and job security is among the top three concerns of our young people today. We explored how co‑ops can provide radical solutions. 

National Youth Summit 2022 – full programme


A welcome from Co‑operatives UK CEO, Rose Marley and Deborah Darlington, Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications, The Co‑operative Bank.

How co-ops can offer hope to the next generation

Rose Marley from Co‑operatives UK gave an introduction to co‑ops, followed by young people who are involved with a range of co‑ops. They shared their experiences and insights about what it’s like to be a part of one.

Breakout sessions

  • Buzz room: Empowering under-represented voices through radical movements – with The Co‑operative College

Together, we can achieve anything! This interactive session was delivered by the Co‑operative College, an educational charity born 100 years ago out of a need for radical education that fights for social justice. It focused on youth activism and how co‑operative values and principles can be used to create real, meaningful change.

  • Work room: The culture sessions – with Woodcraft Folk

For nearly a century, Woodcraft Folk has worked with young people to deliver education for social change, underpinned by the values of the co‑operative movement. This session explored how building a values‑driven culture in our communities and structures can help address challenges and overcome barriers. It also gave a taste of some of Woodcraft Folk’s techniques for facilitating discussion and building consensus.

  • Evolve room: Trendsetters: Inspiring action on sustainable fashion – with Stitched-up

Delivered by Stitched Up – a Manchester based co‑op championing sustainable fashion – this session explored the climate impact of clothing and brought people together to identify actionable community solutions. After an overview of the scale of clothing and textiles’ impact on the environment, the participants explored the properties of different textiles that typically get sent to landfill. Choosing a few materials as a starting point, small teams worked together to put forward the best ideas for repurposing or reusing these materials within communities. 

Refreshment and networking break

Breakout sessions

  • Buzz room: What’s the point in politics? – with Ben Procter, Scottish Co‑operative Party

When it comes to human rights, do you have a say? Does democracy really work? And could your vote make a difference to the lives of many? Ben Procter, Chair of the Scottish Co‑operative Party led this informative session on the proposed amendments to the Human Rights Act Reform. 

  • Work room: Community shares: Share the wealth, share the power – with Isla McCulloch and John Harrison, Co‑operatives UK

This workshop provided an introduction to community shares, what they are, and how to start a community share offer. 

  • Grow room: Write your own rules and shape the future of co-operation – with Young Co‑operators' Network

The Young Co‑operators Network (YCN) was set up to promote social change through inspiring conversations, collaboration and friendship. In this session, they shared what the YCN has achieved, what the challenges have been – and how we can work together to grow the network and create a fairer future. 

Breakout sessions

  • Buzz room: Should Our Pass become a co‑operative? – with Our Pass and Rose Marley, Co‑operatives UK

Our Pass is membership scheme in Greater Manchester offering eligible 16‑18‑year‑olds free bus travel on most local bus services and access to a range of exclusive offers, discounts and experiences. A young person’s panel of Our Pass holders invited participants to have a say in how they want the scheme to be run. Should it be a co‑op? Why? Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham joined the session to hear people’s views.

  • Work room: How to use your voice to create social change: Media training for young professionals – with Alice Toomer‑McAlpine and Anca Voinea, Co‑op News

What makes a good story? And how would you write a press release to ensure your message is heard? In this dynamic media training workshop, Alice Toomer-McAlpine (co‑founder of The Meteor, a not-for-profit, independent media co‑operative in Manchester) and Co‑op News journalist Anca Voinea explored the power of narrative – and explained compelling ways to tell a story and get the message across to the right people. 

  • Grow room: Radical student housing alternatives – with Student Co‑op Homes

How can the students of today find affordable, ethically run housing? A community that gives a sense of meaning and belonging to all? An empowering space designed to promote wellness? Student Co‑op Homes joined the National Youth Summit 2022 to speak about how students are taking back control of their rent, living conditions and well-being through the principles of co-operation. 

Question time

Youth empowerment, community wealth-building and ethical working cultures are to name just a few of the reasons why co‑operatives can overcome recent societal challenges and create a thriving culture. As we work together to build a better and healthier society, we posed some big questions such as ‘Does democracy work?’ and ‘Is there a bigger role for a democratic economy in UK society and what’s the potential it could achieve?’. 

Tacking issues such as the climate, data ownership, job security and mental health, the Question Time panel provided an opportunity for young people to ask those in positions of power – as well as young people who are part of co-operatives – their views and solutions-led approaches to some of our youth’s top concerns.  

Host and moderator Keisha Thompson, Artistic Director and CEO of the Contact Theatre, was joined by:

  • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester 

  • Ben Procter, Chair of the Scottish Co‑operative Party 

  • Lenny Watson, Founder member, Sister Midnight 

  • Hannah Birch, Chief Operations Officer, Revolver Co-operative 

  • Amelia Crews, Energy Innovation Co-ordinator, Your Co-op Energy 

  • Sila Ugurlu, Trustee, British Youth Council 

The National Youth Summit was sponsored by The Co‑operative Bank and delivered in partnership with Co-operatives UK, Co‑op Foundation and The Co‑operative College.