Co-op Fortnight 2022

Thursday 23rd Jun, 2022

What's it all about?

 

 

From 20 June to 3 July in the UK, we’re celebrating the annual Co-op Fortnight.  Originally launched in 2010, it is organised by Co-operatives UK to tell everyone what co-ops are all about and celebrate the strength and diversity of the worldwide co-operative movement.

 

So, what’s that got to do with HEY Credit Union, you may be asking?   Well, credit unions are good examples of co-ops.  They are businesses owned by, and run for, their members.  Their whole purpose is to serve the needs of their members, not make money for distant investors.  In our case, opening access to affordable finance and safe ways to save money was why our founder members came together in 1999 with the enthusiasm to set HEY Credit Union up as a co-operative.

 

Mention ‘co-op’ to many people and they think of a local supermarket.  Yet, co-ops span the economy.  They operate not only in retailing and finance, but in farming, in fisheries, in graphic design, in robotics, in education, sport, the arts and many other sectors of life.  Whatever the industry, there is usually a co-op!  

 

Co-ops often happen when people come together to solve a problem or respond to an issue – such as to take over a much-loved community space, improve job security, or have a say in creating a more ethical way of business.  The first co-ops in Hull, in the 1790s, were flour mills, to produce lower cost flour in protest at the high prices charged by commercial millers when many local people were going hungry.  And the Rochdale Pioneers’ opened theirs in 1844 to combat the adulteration of basic foods by profiteers.  In modern times, East Marsh United started a co-op to refurbish run-down houses in Grimsby and operate as an ethical community-focused landlord.

 

What’s different about co-ops?   From outside they may look like other businesses – but it’s what happens inside that makes them different.  All co-ops are based on similar principles and shared values:

  • Co-ops are owned and controlled by their members, and joining is voluntary.
  • Co-ops are democratic – every member has an equal say in how they’re run and any surplus is shared.
  • Every member contributes, whether buying its products, saving with or working for it etc.
  • Co-ops are independent and exist for their members’ benefit, not the state or private investors.
  • Co-ops offer education and training to those involved, so they can develop and promote their values.
  • Co-ops co-operate with and support other co-ops.
  • A co-op supports the communities it works with.

 

John, our CEO and one of HEY Credit Union’s founders says:  “I’ve been fortunate to be involved in the co-op movement all my adult life.  It has given me huge satisfaction working with co-operators who were so passionate about making things better for the people they serve.  No one starts out as an expert in co-ops, you learn as you go along, but by working together and helping each other, you can achieve much more than you ever imagined.  Co-ops really are the key to a happier, kinder and better world!”

 

Here’s a few co-op facts that may surprise you:

  • There are 3 million co-ops around the world – with 1.2 billion members (12% of people on Earth).
  • In the UK, 7,000+ co-ops with 14 million members contribute £39.7 billion to the annual economy.
  • Co-ops employ 280 million people across the globe – 10% of all employed people.
  • Co-ops are resilient – in the UK 72% of co-ops survive the first 5 years in business compared to 43% of companies.

 

If you are as proud as we are to be involved in a co-op, share a quick message on the #UnwrapCoops website – and help to spread the word.  Not a member yet?  Join a co-op and get involved!

 

Happy Co-op Fortnight!

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