City co-operators celebrate a special year

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Co-operative groups from across the South Midlands gathered in Milton Keynes on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives.

Twenty-one of the region’s co-operatives, including the Milton Keynes Credit Union, Shenley Church End Housing Co-op, Leighton Buzzard Woodcraft Folk and Milton Keynes Peace and Justice Network, joined together at the Chrysalis Theatre in Milton Keynes to celebrate the breadth and diversity of the co-operative sector.

Hosted by the Co-operative Group’s South Midlands Area Committee, the event saw guests enjoying interactive activities and experience-sharing with over 100 co-operators, as well as being entertained by a steel band. The evening ended with guests pledging to take individual actions to act more co-operatively and help build a better world

Designated by the United Nations as a celebratory year, 2012 International Year of Co-operatives provides the opportunity for the one billion co-operators across the world to highlight how, through co-operative values and principles, “Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World”.

Co-operatives provide over 100 million jobs around the world, and The Co-operative Group operates 4,800 trading outlets in the UK, employing more than 106,000 people with an annual turnover of more than £13bn. The Co-operative Food is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer.

Sabina Crouch, Membership Officer for the South Midlands, said: “As part of the co-operative movement, The Co-operative Group is committed to the communities in which we trade, and we support local charities and good causes via our Community Fund. But, as well as supporting the local community, we lead the way on Fairtrade and are part of a much wider community, the huge, international movement of co-operation.

“Thanks to the International Year of Co-operatives, everyone from our store staff in Milton Keynes, to the Ibaraki fishing co-operative in Japan can celebrate the responsible way we do business.”

Co-operatives UK, the body representing co-operative organisations in the UK, will be supporting its members with a year-long programme of activities and materials aimed at raising awareness of the UK co-operative sector throughout 2012.

For more information on United Nations 2012 International Year of Co-operatives visit the ICA at www.2012.coop or the Global News Hub at www.thenews.coop