On Wednesday 6th June, Co-operative and Social Enterprise Development Agency (CaSE-da) held a lunch event at our offices on New Walk to celebrate Co-operatives Fortnight.
Over twenty members of local co-operative businesses came together to eat, discuss achievements and to share successes of the past year while looking forward to the year to come.
One in five people in the UK is now a member of a co-operative and Co-operatives Fortnight is the national campaign to unite the sector and to raise awareness of the co-operative business model amongst the general public.
Co-operative organisations have been bucking the trend during the recession; the combined turnover of all UK co-operatives grew by 4.4 per cent last year to £33billion, resulting in growth of 21 per cent since the start of the crunch in 2008. Co-operative Group distributed dividends of £70million to its members in May 2011, whilst the John Lewis Partnership gave all employee members an 18% bonus as a share of profits.
Ed Mayo, the secretary general for Co-operatives UK says: “The evidence we have is of remarkably stable growth across a wide array of co-operative businesses. The values of shared ownership, shared wealth and democratic control appear to provide resilience in the face of economic adversaries.”
The theme of this year’s Fortnight (which ran from 25th June to 9th July) is “Yours to Share”. Co-operatives UK have started a petition calling on the Government to provide more support for the co-operative sector and to help narrow the gap between the rich and poor by encouraging businesses to share their ownership and wealth in a co-operative manner.
Copies of this petition were available at CaSE-da’s lunch event, and all attendees lent their support to the campaign, which aims to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures.
The lunch event included a short speech by CEO Dorothy Francis who gave a brief overview of initiatives that CaSE-da and its partners have delivered, including the very successful Social Enterprise Way project which has provided 25 new jobs, assisted 50 people to start businesses and created 12 new businesses.
Dorothy also introduced a new project called Working in Social Enterprise (WISE), which will help community and voluntary groups to establish viable social enterprises. Dorothy also raised awareness of the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, a support, training and advice service provided by Co-operative Group to assist people to set up and run viable and sustainable co-operative businesses.
Dorothy said: “Co-operatives change lives, communities and societies and it is a pleasure to work in a movement that aims in all that it does to redress social, financial and ethical imbalances”
For more information about the WISE programme or Co-operative Enterprise Hub or CaSE-da contact Nade Townsend on 0116 222 5010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.