Skip to main content

Co-op Congress 2024

Congress landscape graphic

Co-op Congress brings together those working to build a fairer economy to share ideas, get inspiration and take action. Co-op Congress 2024 takes place on 14 and 15 June.

Co-op Congress 2024 will take place in The Eastside Rooms in Birmingham on Friday 14 June and Saturday 16 June. Watch this space for updates on the programme speakers and content. In the meantime, you cna take a look at what happened in 2023.

Watch Co-op Congress 2023

We live streamed the main room sessions from Co-op Congress last year for FREE, thanks to our event sponsor The Co-operative Bank. 


  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK
  • Don Morris, Chair, Co-operatives UK
  • A welcome from The Co-operative Bank, event sponsor – Catherine Douglas, Chief People and Sustainability Officer, The Co-operative Bank
Remote video URL
Remote video URL

Andrew Griffith MP – Keynote speech

Andrew Griffith MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, will deliver a pre-recorded address to Co-op Congress about how he and his department are acting to develop the co-operative movement. 

Remote video URL

Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO Co-op Group – Plenary

The CEO of the UK's largest co-operative will deliver a plenary at this year's Co-op Congress.

Remote video URL

Social care – how to fix a broken market. Could a co-operative pilot across Greater Manchester produce a scalable solution?

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester (Chair); Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, MA, Chair, NHS Confederation; Emma Back, founder of Equal Care Co-op; Paul Gerrard, Campaigns, Public Affairs & Board Secretariat Director, Co-op Group; and Michele Rashman, domiciliary care service user (via video); and Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

At Co-op Congress 2022, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, alongside Co-operatives UK CEO Rose Marley and Champion of the Fair Care Mark, Cheryl Barrott, invited co-operatives from across the country to share challenges and opportunities in social care. Delegates will hear from Rose Marley about the work that has been undertaken over the past 12 months, including research on worldwide co-operative solutions and the potential for a ground-breaking pilot. Greater Manchester has the greatest devolved powers in the north of England and the second largest Integrated Care Board in the country. Co-operatives disrupt and fix broken markets, so in terms of a social care pilot taking place in Greater Manchester - home to Co-op Group (the UK's biggest co-operative) - the question posed by Andy Burnham is "what are we waiting for?". 

Remote video URL

Democratising the economy – a plan to take control

Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands (pre-record); Liz Zeidler, Chief Executive, Centre for Thriving Places; Sarah Longlands, Chief Executive, Centre for Local Economic Strategies; Oli Wilson, Co-Founder, Beyond the Music; and John Robb, Musician and Author (moderator)

Would a more democratic society benefit us all? Co-operatives, mutuals, employee-owned businesses, credit unions and community businesses all play a part in the 'democratic economy,' where people enjoy a genuine stake and say in anything from their work to the products or services they consume. Over the next five years, NEF, Co-operatives UK, CLES and CTP, are working with local policymakers, communities, civil society and businesses. But what's the potential contribution to community wealth? And are people ready and willing to make more control?

In this session moderator John Robb, alongside Sarah Longlands (CLES) and Liz Zeidler (CTP) will explore plans to embed greater control in communities. Delegates will also hear from Mayor Andy Street about a new Ownership Hub launching in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority, and unique insight from Oli Wilson, who is in the process of setting up a new music co-operative called Beyond the Music. So if we want to create a more democratic economy, then what's the plan? And is taking more control the right thing to do?

Remote video URL

How can we stop the climate-nature crisis from becoming a full blown disaster?

Catherine Douglas, Chief People and Sustainability Officer, The Co-operative Bank (Chair); Hugh Knowles, Co-Executive Director, Friends of the Earth, England, Wales & Northern Ireland; Debbie Robinson, CEO, Central Co-op; Sarah Merrick, CEO and Founder, Ripple Energy; Tom Nockolds, Executive Officer, Loco Home Retrofit

The climate emergency is arguably the greatest issue facing society and has a growing impact on us all, with the need for urgent and immediate collective action. Friends of the Earth have been fighting for people and planet for 50 years. They have campaigned on everything from eliminating plastic to fighting climate change and want to change the world for good.

In this session, hear Friends of the Earth discuss the climate-nature crisis, and listen to co-operatives explain how they are responding. Evidence shows that co-operatives are at the forefront of climate action; from retrofit to community energy to the bold zero emission targets of the UK's biggest member-owned businesses.

Come along to hear how co-operatives can lead the way, and learn lessons and changes that can be taken and adopted by your business to play your part in helping to alleviate the crisis.

Remote video URL

Co-operation and disabled co-operators – how inclusive are we?

Steve Graby, Co-Founder, TypeOlogy; Cherylee Houston, Actor and disability campaigner; Cheryl Barrott, Co-Founder, The Cooperative Guild of Social and Community Workers; and Dr Gregory Roberts, Board Member, The Co-operative College and Director, Stratej Global Consulting

Inclusivity, equality, autonomy, self-help, working for the common good. There are numerous synergies and values shared by the Co-operative Movement and Disabled People's Movement. So what must we do to be truly inclusive and a beacon of best practice? With insight from research into disabled people's involvement in UK co-operatives, our expert panel will explore the relationship between disabled people and the co-operatives - and how our Movement can lead the way. 

Remote video URL

The Spirit of Co-operation 

Philip Clayton, Co-Founder, Bright Future Co-operative; Claire Stocks, Director, Chorlton Bike Deliveries; Shaun Fensom, Secretary, Cooperative Network Infrastructure; Nicola Lewis, Founding Member, The Intermediary Cooperative; Rebecca Harvey, Executive Editor, Co-op News (Chair)

In this session we will explore modern co‑operation and the impact it is having on individuals, in communities and on the UK economy. Hear innovative and inspiring examples of the spirit of co-operation in action, followed by a panel discussion. The session will be facilitated by Rebecca Harvey, Executive Editor of Co-op News.

Remote video URL

Closing address: Jean-Louis Bancel

Jean-Louis Bancel, Honorary president of Crédit Coopératif and Chair of the Fondation du Crédit coopératif, will inspire us with examples of co-operative innovation from across our global movement to formally close Co-op Congress 2023. Jean-Louis will also share details of the upcoming Global Innovation Coop Summit, which takes place in Montreal this September.

Remote video URL

Welcome to day two

  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK
  • Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council

Ownership and place: communities taking control – including keynote

Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up; Tim Davies-Pugh, CEO, Power to Change; Lenny Watson, Co-Founder, Sister Midnight; Mark Hodson, Director, East Marsh United; Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK (Chair)

Lisa Nandy MP delivers a keynote speech on her work on investment in communities and the importance of communities. Lisa will join a discussion where two co-operatives talk about how using community shares to raise finance has made a huge difference to their communities.

The future of tech, AI and the role of the co-operative movement

Dan Sodergren, Director and Founder, Great Marketing Works; Violetta Nafpaktiti, Managing Director, DotCoop; Jen Bird, Founder, Signalise Co-op; Emma Howard, Data and Policy Analyst, Open Data Services; Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK (Chair)

Technology is moving at breakneck pace. This session begins with a wake up call for the movement about the impact AI will have on our lives – both as businesses and individuals. How can we as a movement not only ready ourselves for this revolution but actively embrace it, and other technologies, with everything from joined up membership schemes to a co-operative digital infrastructure to user-owned and run digital platforms. If we are truly behind Principle 6 then tech and digital must be at the forefront to create a Movement that moves. From provocations to challenges, delegates are asked to arrive with an open mind and a willingness to embrace technology-led change. 

11.50-12.50 sessions

Showcasing retrofit homes

Tom Nockolds, Executive Officer, Loco Home Retrofit; Sandy Rushton, Training Manager, People Powered Retrofit; and James Wright, Policy & Development Lead (Chair) and Tom Laing, Policy Officer, Co-operatives UK

We'll explore the role co-operation can and is playing in the delivery of retrofit. We are delighted to welcome speakers from Glasgow's Loco Home Retrofit and People Powered Retrofit in Manchester. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities facing co-operatives in the retrofit sector.

The Future of Co-operative Identity – have your say

Emma Laycock, Member Services Lead and Head of Advice, Co-operative UK; Sarah Alldred, Head of International Partnerships, Co-operative College; Ben Reid, Board Member, International Co-operative Alliance

How well has the international statement on co-operative identity stood the test of time? Following worldwide consultations, this session will cover outcomes, next steps and how, by working together, we can deepen the co-operative Identity and make sure it is fit for purpose for today and the future. You will be the first to take part in a co-operative identity consultation using a toolkit designed by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). The toolkit can be taken away to use with members/colleagues/workers within your own co-operative.

Co-operative media: An altogether different way of making headlines

Rebecca Harvey, Executive Editor, Co-op News (Chair); Will Franklin, Workplace/Membership Lead, The Bristol Cable; Rhys Everquill, Managing Editor and Community Coordinator, Great Central Gazette; Anca Voinea, International Editor, Co-op News

What can media look like when journalists are not beholden to politics or corporate shareholders and writers have the freedom and knowledge to cover stories of genuine local interest? How does co-operatively owned media work? This panel will explore how co-op ownership has an altogether different way of addressing three challenges: democracy and media freedom; the decline of relevant, local and expert knowledge; and decent work.

Chaired by Co-op News executive editor, Rebecca Harvey, the session will feature conversations, practical demonstrations and a Q&A with journalists at the frontline of co-op media. How does being in a co-op change the way they cover news? How does it change the way they serve their readers and members? And what are they all doing about AI?


13.50-14.50 sessions

Roundtable on capital raising with HM Treasury

This roundtable will convene HM Treasury officials, co-operatives and finance providers, to explore ambitions, innovations and challenges for co-operative capital raising. 10 spaces will be available for delegates to join the roundtable discussion. To express interest in joining, email [email protected].

How local councils are growing the cooperative economy

Cllr Louise Gittins, Chair of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network and Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council; Cllr Mike Stubbs, Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council and Vice Chair of CCIN Values & Principles Board; Cllr Matthew Brown, Leader, Preston City Council; and Cllr Ajaz Rehman, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economies at Oxford City Council

The Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network (CCIN) is committed to finding better ways of working for, and with, local people for the benefit of their community using the co-operative values and principles. It has 132 Members and Supporters across the UK and its Members represent 10.5m citizens and control an £18bn budget. Join this session to find out more about the work they are doing.

Our Malawi Partnership – Principle Six in action

Charlotte Castille, Head of Digital Marketing, Membership & PR, Central Co-op; Jane Avery, Director, Central Co-op; Dr Sarah Alldred, Head of International Partnerships, The Co-operative College

A remarkable initiative that demonstrates what can be achieved when Principle 6 is put into action, this session is all about 'Our Malawi Partnership' and how co-operatives can further strengthen this life-changing collaborative project. Launched during Co-operatives Fortnight 2022 and led by Central Co-op, Our Malawi Partnership creates trading opportunities for Malawian producer co-operatives, while also returning some of the profits back into a cohesive Malawi Development Plan, co-created and implemented by the Co-operative College and Malawi Federation of Co-operatives. 

Central Co-op will lead the workshop with outgoing President, Jane Avery, sharing experiences from her recent visit to Malawi – one of the world’s poorest countries. Charlotte will also talk about the initiative’s aims and progress to date as well as explaining how more co-operatives can participate and strengthen the partnership. UK-based suppliers enables Central Co-op to further expand trading opportunities by sourcing Malawi products. Suppliers including NutCellars, Liberation Nuts, Revolver Co-operative and True Origin will be attending the workshop and on-hand to answer questions and provide sampling opportunities!


15:00-16:00 session

Member engagement research: Delivering an effective membership experience

Lucy King, Researcher & Producer, Outlandish

Co-operatives UK is working with tech and digital agency, Outlandish, on a research project to better understand our members' needs. In this exploratory workshop, we invite our members and non-members to share what you would value most from being members of Co-operatives UK; how you connect with other co-operatives so that we can support this through our membership offering; and what our members need in order to develop and deliver a truly effective membership experience. Join us to share your views and find out how you can get more involved with the project. Co-operatives are also encouraged to visit the Co-operatives UK stand on Friday to discuss the project.

11.30-12.30 sessions

PARK SUITE: What does it take to create a successful community share offer and community-owned co-operative?

Alice Wharton, Community Shares Booster Fund Senior Manager, Co-operatives UK; Lenny Watson, Co-Founder, Sister Midnight; Mark Hodson, Director, East Marsh United; Makena Löhr, Communities Manager, Flo's – the Place in the Park

By embracing their co-operative identity, communities are doing it for themselves using community shares to raise funding. Not only is this type of funding raising millions for community businesses, it's also leveraging in millions more from institutions and government. But it wouldn't be anything without the local people leading the way and running these share offers and businesses. Find out from the people making it happen in live music, housing and community hub spaces.

SENATE: Great Expectations: Where are the next generation of co-operators coming from?

Molly Newhouse, Member, Young Co-operators Network; Christopher Roseby-Bunce, Worker-Member, Suma Wholefoods

Molly lived in a student housing co-op and has been involved in Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative, Students for Co-operation, Student Co-op Homes and now the Young Co-operators Network. Now she’s no longer a student how can she continue to be involved in co-operatives? Buncey had no idea about worker co-ops, but is now part of Suma, the UK’s largest worker co-operative. 

Join us for this interactive session with Molly and Buncey. Hosted by and the Young Co-operators Network, we'll be pooling ideas on how to super-charge worker co-operatives by opening out to younger people. 

PORTLAND: Why co-ops should be leading tax justice

Graham Drummond, Head of Comms, Fair Tax Foundation; David Gosling, Senior Direct Tax Manager, Co-op Group; Scott Lockwood, Director, Third Sector Accountancy

As ethical businesses, it makes sense that co-operatives should pay the right amount of tax, in the right place, at the right time. In this session we'll take a deep dive into tax justice, including a look into the benefits of responsible tax conduct and the co-operative-pioneered Fair Tax Mark.


13.30-14.30 sessions

PARK SUITE: How can co-ops capture the buzz of B Corps?

Rob Harrison, Co-Founder, Ethical Consumer Magazine; Violetta Nafpaktiti, Managing Director, DotCoop; Emma Laycock, Member Services Lead and Head of Advice, Co-operative UK

At a time of great social and political upheaval, how can co-operatives capture the buzz of the B-Corp movement with their own labelling and/or messaging? In this collaborative session we'll also explore whether additional social and environmental assurance be needed to help get the message across - and what these standards might look like?  

SENATE: Member consultation: Help shape our policy priorities

James Wright, Policy & Development Lead and Tom Laing, Policy Officer, Co-operatives UK

This summer Co-operatives UK will publish a call on political parties to back co-operatives, setting out the sector's priorities. It aims to secure broad backing from our movement. Co-operatives UK members are being invited to comment on and suggest changes to a draft of four policy priorities and wider call on political parties. The result of this consultation will be discussed in this session. This workshop may overrun into the next 14:40-15:50 session time slot.

PORTLAND: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Blase Lambert, Chief Officer, Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH)

A workshop on the UN Sustainable Goals and what they mean for your society. In the session, Blase Lambert will focus on the work of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing in creating its Wayshaper SDG toolkit and advice and how this toolkit can be useful to your societies. 


14.50-15.50 sessions

PARK SUITE: Moving from fragile flowers to flourishing ecosystems: What next for co-operative development?

Dave Boyle, Director, The Community Shares Company; Mark Simmonds, Member, Co-op Culture; Lenny Watson, Co-Founder, Sister Midnight 

To enable healthy and diverse co-operative start-ups, as well as to support the sustainability and growth of existing co-operatives, we need a thriving and supported co-operative development network. What does this look like now and what is the future of co-operative development? What can be done to enable more consistent business support delivery, learning and development opportunities and best practice sharing? Our panellists will each set out their vision, followed by a discussion and Q&A.

PORTLAND: Co-operative synergy: Harnessing the spirit of collaboration in Credit Unions

Robin Fieth, Chief Executive Officer, Building Societies Association; Jo Moscrop, Chief Business Development Officer, No1 CopperPot Credit Union; Sheenagh Young, Chief Executive, South Manchester Credit Union

Industry experts will explore the theme of "spirit of co-operation" within the context of credit unions. The session aims to delve into the significance of collaboration and collective action in driving the success of credit unions and their ability to meet the evolving needs of their members.

PARK AVENUE: Our house – in the middle of a housing crisis

Blase Lambert, CEO, Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH); and Andrew Bibby, Author

The average property costs around 10 times the average salary. The rental housing market is broken. Meanwhile, with lengthening waiting lists, there is little chance of an escape into social housing. Could co-operative housing be the answer to the UK’s housing crisis – or at least a more significant part of the solution? CCH’s Blase Lambert will explore the housing crisis from a co-operative housing perspective. Delegates will also hear from Andrew Bibby, following the recent launch of his new book, These Houses Are Ours.

Related content