Co-operatives across the UK came together to launch the International Year of Cooperatives.
Thousands of retail co-operative staff celebrated the launch of the International Year on January 12th. They wore hats of many nations — from a Moroccan fez to an American cowboy hat — to mark the occasion, and pieced together a giant global jigsaw to celebrate the global successes of co-operation.
Customers at 50 Co-operative Group stores, including food, bank and pharmacy branches, across the country were greeted by staff in hats to celebrate the launch of the Year.
Midcounties Co-operative collectively launched 2,012 balloons across its estate of businesses. Andy Cresswell, Deputy Chief Executive of The Midcounties Co-operative, said: “The designation by the UN gives us a unique opportunity to show the world the massive contribution that co-operatives make towards creating a better, fairer world by doing business with a true social conscience. Their positive impact is felt everywhere, from Banbury to Brussels, Cheltenham to Costa Rica.”
Chelmsford Star rang in the start of International Year with the aid of Deputy Mayor, Councillor Mike Harris, and Town Crier Tony Appleton.
Channel Island Co-operative’s staff at its Longstore branch, Guernsey, gave customers a global greeting during the launch.
Staff at Midlands, East of England, Southern and Scotmid societies celebrated the Year too.
In Northern Ireland, Green Party Leader Steven Agnew today launched the Year at Stormont in his role of Chair of the All Party Group on Co-operatives and Mutuals. Mr Agnew said: “At a time when excessive profits and corporate greed has led to the near destruction of our economy, there has been no better time to promote the more than profit model of co-operatives and mutuals.
“At the community level, people are once again turning to their local credit unions and through saving together communities are being helped through these difficult times.
“Now that fuel prices are becoming increasingly unaffordable the co-operative model can be used to both generate energy and also be a great way to use combined purchasing power to reduce costs for consumers."
• To add your pictures to the gallery, join the International Year of Cooperatives group on Flickr; or submit your news here.