By Ed Powell, Programmes and Partnerships Manager

We’re proud to be a co-op. We’re part of a movement, one that exists for its members and the communities we operate in. We’re one of 7,063 co-ops in the UK, with over 14 million members.

Different co-ops operate in different sectors spanning food, funerals, insurance, financial services, agriculture, care and digital solutions, to name but a few. But all of us are united by the same values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

Monday 22 June sees the start of Co-op Fortnight.

Launched in 2010, the annual event – which runs until Sunday 5 July – is organised by Co-operatives UK, the network for all the UK’s co-operatives.

The theme for this year’s Co-op Fortnight is #KeepCooperating. We have seen so many colleagues, members, co-ops and community groups co-operating to find solutions to support their local communities. A fantastic example of this comes from a village in North Wiltshire called Minety.

Minety once had a shop but it closed 12 years ago, and the community wanted to revive a convenience store on their doorstep – one which would act as a social centre for the village.

A fundraising campaign was launched by the Community Benefit Society (a type of organisation run for the benefit of its members) and future plans were also discussed at a village meeting in January, but then coronavirus struck.

In response to the pandemic, the Minety Shop Organisation were offered use of a room at the village hall to set up an emergency pop-up shop. They needed to quickly switch from ‘fundraising mode’ to ‘shop set-up and running mode’, so the organisation sought help from the Plunkett Foundation to get their new operation up and running.

Funded by Co-op, Plunkett set up several Zoom meetings with two members of the committee. Alison, a Plunkett advisor, was able to help work through questions on a long list of challenging topics. With her help, the shop went from fundraising to trading in the space of a weekend – a true testament to the power of co-operation in these difficult times.

There are so many other examples of times our business and colleagues have come together during the pandemic. Our Members’ Coronavirus Fund has seen Co-op’s 4.6 million members channel their unspent member rewards into foodbanks, a funeral hardship fund and frontline community causes. While our #LocalHeroes magazine shines a light on the ways our fantastic colleagues have gone above and beyond for each other and their communities.

Get involved

Over the fortnight, there are a few simple things you can do to get involved:

  • Keep an eye out for Co-op Fortnight celebrations on our social media, Yammer and the social hub, and join in the conversation using #KeepCooperating
  • If you’re interested in getting involved in local volunteering opportunities, you can via our Co-operate Platform
  • Find out more information on the campaign and co-ops