Co-operative Assistance Network Limited

Report from Future Co-operatives 

Grass roots organisations will be more resilient, and the co-operative movement now better understands their needs

from crisis to co op

Future Co-operatives is an annual conference organised by Co-operative Futures.  This year it took place in Oxford in February and CAN’s National Marketing Team Leader Austen Cordasco attended. This is his report.

It was excellent to meet up with colleagues from around the country after two or three years: friendships were reaffirmed and new contacts made.  The conference was fully attended, everyone is an activist and there was a wealth of wisdom and experience present.

Conference opened with a film about a variety of community projects around the UK that were set up by local groups to support people through lockdown and restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, but which have continued to operate due to the cost of living crisis.  They address issues of food purchase and distribution, housing, digital exclusion, energy and heat supply, transport and so on.  Some are faith-based, some also campaign, some struggle with premises more than others etc.  No two are the same but each is a grass roots, self-organising group that formed without little or no support from institutions or the co-operative movement.

They generally find that in order to survive and engage with civic society they are obliged to formalise or incorporate, and that brings us to the theme of the conference: the interface between grass roots organisations and institutions, the co-operative movement in particular; between bottom up and top down development.

The workshops and discussions brought together community activist and organisers and people from all parts of the co-operative sector and elsewhere, including trades unions. Many connections were made, community groups learned from each other, there was much transfer of knowledge from the old and wise to the young and energetic, and that interface between grass roots and establishment, between bottom up and top down development, was explored in great detail with many ongoing real life examples.

The conference successfully enabled people to shared the benefit of their experience with others and to gain new insights: grass roots organisations will now be more resilient and the co-operative movement now better understands their needs. And it was great to meet up with old friends.

Co-operative Assistance Network Limited

is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014

 No. 30714R 

Registered address: 1-3 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8AA
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