Co-op Fortnight is back to celebrate the thousands of co-operatives across the UK that are making a difference to people, to communities and the wider economy.
Running from Monday 19 June to Sunday 2 July, this year’s Co-op Fortnight aims to showcase how there’s an altogether different way to do business.
In the face of broken markets and economic inequality, co-ops are harnessing the power of community and collaboration to provide innovative solutions to help rebuild and revitalise broken Britain and ensure local needs are met.
Co-ops, owned and operated by their members prioritise people and communities over profit, putting their stakeholders at the heart of decision making. They put the power back in the hands of local people to tackle systemic issues and to pave the way for a more sustainable and inclusive future.
During the current cost of living crisis, when so many people and businesses are struggling to make ends meet, co-ops are showing new levels of resilience and innovation by continuing to support their communities. Their unique model is proving a force for good with pioneering solutions to fix broken markets.
Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said:
“The co-operative movement is calling for people to support an altogether different way of doing business during Co-op Fortnight. By joining co-operatives, people are supporting their local community, collective action and shared ownership in the face of adversity and tough economic times."
With so many parts of the UK economy under strain, Co-op Fortnight offers a chance to look the new ways Co-ops are helping to solve our national crisis. From housing to energy, social care and mental health, Co-ops are spearheading the way for communities and emerging as a viable catalyst for change.
Sharply rising interest rates and rents have exacerbated the UK’s housing crisis, with millions struggling to make their monthly payments or find affordable homes. Co-op Fortnight offers a chance to find out more about those co-ops offering a new way forward.
Meanwhile, East Marsh United is a co-op that converts derelict properties into decent, affordable homes in Grimsby’s East Marsh, one of the most deprived wards in England. The co-op recently ran a community share offer to support their work, raising £500,000 from 162 investors.
This includes Transition by Design, a co-operative in Oxford that specialises in ecological architecture and community-led housing. The co-op is owned by its team of architects and designers, whose projects include exploring how empty and underused spaces can be used to help tackle extreme housing need in Oxford.
Mental health and social care
The health and social care sector is under strain like never before, as record waiting lists, staff shortages and industrial action take their toll. Co-op Fortnight is a chance to hear about the co-operative organisations that are stepping in to offer new solutions and meet patient needs.
Lambeth GP Food Co-op, for example, is a co-operative of patients, doctors, nurses and Lambeth residents who have created a network of gardens at GP surgeries across the London borough. These community gardens support patients with long-term health conditions, teaching them how to grow food and improve their own health and wellbeing. The co-op has been so successful that it is now in talks with the NHS about rolling its model out to other areas.
Equal Care Co-op in West Yorkshire is also pioneering a new model for social care by putting people above profit. The co-op is owned by those who both give and receive the care, and has overcome the staffing shortages seen in the rest of the sector by paying its workers between £18 and £21 an hour. Thanks to its focus on paying a living wage, recruitment and retention are at significantly higher levels within the co-op than the sector average.
One of the biggest factors driving the cost of living crisis has been the rapidly rising price of energy. Soaring bills have put a massive squeeze on both household budgets and business balance sheets.
Again, the co-op model is helping to uncover new ways of tackling this deep-rooted problem, and Co-op Fortnight offers a chance to find out more. People Powered Retrofit, for example, is a co-op in Greater Manchester that is tackling energy poverty head-on by helping people to retrofit their homes and improve energy efficiency. Recently the organisation raised over £700,00 from 358 investors to support its work via a community share offer.
Poverty and food banks
The cost of living crisis has pushed more people below the poverty line, leading to increased demand for food banks and other charitable services. Co-op Fortnight will show how co-ops are responding to the challenge as communities pull together to meet local needs.
Kandoroo is an innovative co-op that has developed a digital solution to food poverty. The co-op provides care professionals with the ability to hand out electronic vouchers that can be used to purchase food and non-food items. This gives agency to the user, restoring dignity to the way in which those in poverty obtain food.
Chorlton Bike Deliveries, meanwhile, has greatly expanded its services in the community since launching during the pandemic to support the most vulnerable. These new services include food bank deliveries, whereby the co-op regularly picks up huge amounts of unwanted food from local bakeries and supermarkets and delivers them to the local food bank to help meet the rising demand seen during the cost of living crisis.
First launched in 2010, Co-op Fortnight is organised by Co-operatives UK, the trade body for the nation’s co-ops.
About Co-op Fortnight
Every year, thousands of people across the UK – who are members of, work in, are involved with or support co-operatives – work together to celebrate and promote co‑ops during Co‑op Fortnight.
The UK has more than 7,000 independent co-ops, which operate across a wide range of industries including retail, energy, food production, housing, healthcare, hospitality, technology, the arts and sport.
For more information on Co-op Fortnight, visit www.uk.coop/fortnight