This year we fought on behalf of co-ops. We influenced government and helped our members in a critical time of need. We brought co-ops together and positioned the co-op sector as a key part of how we build back better. Our work is all about you, our members, the co-ops who own and control us. Our impact is collective and our achievements are shared. Thank you.
Impact in 2020
The year 2020 has been like no other. The Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenge, with almost half the UK’s co-ops reporting cashflow issues, 40 per cent furloughing staff and 70 per cent expressing real concern over their future. An urgent response to the critical needs of our members - and the wider movement – was required. Informed by our research into the effects of Covid-19 on co-ops, we immediately repurposed our operations.
Government responded to the pandemic – but often failed to take co-ops into account. Our political lobbying ensured that societies were included in the fast-tracked insolvency reforms and AGM flexibility legislation. We confirmed that co-ops were eligible to apply for the DCMS Culture Recovery Fund and lobbied successfully with partners for a package of support for co-ops and wider social enterprise.
We overhauled our events and training programme, taking everything online. We focused on issues of critical importance to our members, from cash flow and business reforecasting to health and safety, as businesses looked to return to something approaching normality.
Alongside our members we continued to raise awareness of co-ops, switching the theme of our annual Co-op Fortnight campaign to highlight co-ops’ response to the Covid-19 crisis; supporting vulnerable people and encouraging everyone to #KeepCooperating.
The year 2020 has been anything but ‘business as usual‘, but we needed to maintain many of our usual business functions. We provided essential governance advice to 312 Co-operatives UK members and helped bring 66 co-ops into existence. We also secured funding for co-op development including a share of Power to Change’s £5 million emergency Trading Income Support Scheme for our members.
Our review into how diverse, equitable and inclusive we are as an organisation was brought even more sharply into focus by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We even helped their UK arm to register as a community benefit society. We’ve now started to pull together an action plan that will help us work with members and partners to support more diversity across the UK co-op and community sector.
The severity of the ongoing health and economic crisis is yet to be fully understood but we look to 2021 with renewed optimism. Covid-19 has brought about a real appetite for different ways of doing business and we will seize this opportunity to shout about co-operative solutions
Our members remain at the heart of all our activities and with our new chief executive, Rose Marley, on board we’ll be exploring new ways to provide member value and raise the profile of co-ops.
We also ask that you pay your part. Value in membership is only gained through participation. You can access specialist advice and support. You can help shape and drive our campaigns. You can also take advantage of unique member offers and discounted training and events. Speak to your membership team today to find out more.