CETS Blog – 2012 in review

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Lies, damned lies and statistics…interesting viewing though! Thanks to everyone who enjoyed our blog last year; more to come in 2013.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The International Co-operative Youth Statement

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On November 20, 2012, young cooperators from all over the world came to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to officially present the International Cooperative Youth Statement 2012, as part of the closing ceremony of the International Year of Cooperatives, declared by the UN. This pivotal year gave young people an opportunity to be heard and to promote the cooperative model.

The Statement was drawn up in an inclusive and participatory manner, which included an online survey, a discussion forum on Facebook and at the United Nations, as well as the finalization of the Statement by a group of young people committed to cooperative development. Through this process, young people from all over the world shared their experiences regarding youth empowerment and their involvement in cooperatives.

Source: http://s.coop/15df5

Firstly, this is a very encouraging development which has the potential to kickstart a programme of youth engagement that utilises the co-operative model of enterprise. The Statement outlines young people’s commitment to the economic, social and environmental benefits generated by co-operatives, in particular their ability to provide decent, satisfying jobs. It makes for a succinct, inspiring read and I would encourage those with a broad interest in youth development and co-operatives to read it. There are some particular passages which I will highlight here as they are relevant to our work in Scotland.

Of the recommendations made in the Statement, three stand out:

  • a benchmark of youth engagement in co-operatives should be developed, ranking this objective alongside other economic and social goals;
  • a call to embed teaching about the co-operative model of enterprise in education, from primary to tertiary; and
  • specific recognition as part of the ICA’s Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.

The Statement is also wise to highlight some of the challenges to succesful youth development through the co-operative model, including:

  • the lack of awareness among young people, their teachers/lecturers, parents etc;
  • the risk that the co-operative model is perceived as old-fashioned;
  • a need for a stronger evidence base on the impact of co-operatives on youth development; and
  • the lack of engagement local co-operatives have with young people.

There are certainly some points in this Statement that deserve CETS’ and others attention. Thoughts?


Celebrating UN 2012 Year of Co-operatives

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Great video which manages to capture the essence of the year in 3 minutes. Keep an eye out for clips from our youth engagement film Join the Co-op Future.


Co-operative education workshop – Co-ops United

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Details of an interesting workshop at the big co-op event Co-operatives United at the end of the month:

Title: Business Education Geared to the Co-operative Model: A Growing Trend

Description: When current and future co-operative leaders wish to pursue professional development specific to the co-operative business model, they do have options. Discuss the benefits of existing business programs geared to co-operatives. Learn directly from those with first-hand experience as students, instructors, and co-operative sector supports of co-operative specific management education.

Date: Thursday, November 1, 2012

Time: 14:30 – 15:30

Location: ICA Expo, Manchester Central. Room/location in conference: Business (Central 7)


Co-operatives and public health: some recent evidence

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Interesting talk from Teaching Scotland’s annual conference a few weeks ago. Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, spoke of the role autonomy plays in the health of Scottish citizens. He presented evidence linking stress levels with the level of autonomy people have in their working lives. Seems like a timely reminder of the role member-owned businesses can play in the Scottish economy in relation to improving the well-being of citizens. Similar research is being carried out in the Basque Country where academics are investigating the link between worker ownership and reduced risk of cardiac arrest.

What co-ops mean to kids

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CETS and the Clydebank Co-op have been working in partnership with Kilbowie Primary to look at the Co-operative Values and Principles and put them into child friendly language. The resulting pop-ups and poster will be displayed in Kilbowie Primary and Clydebank Co-op, to promote understanding of the benefits of the co-operative business model and encourage people to join their local co-op.

Kilbowie Co-op Poster

Poster created by Kilbowie Primary pupils on what co-ops mean to them

Community and Place – UKSCS conference

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The UK Society for Co-operative Studies (UKSCS) showcased its tradition as an independent voice in the movement at its annual conference in Lincoln this past weekend (1-2 September). The theme was ‘Community and Place’ and was aptly demonstrated by our keynote speaker, CEO of Lincolnshire Co-operative Society Ursula Lidbetter. In a polished yet passionate speech, Ms Lidbetter highlighted the various ways in which the Lincolnshire Society has embedded itself within its communities throughout the county. She used an interesting term, ‘benefits stacking’, to describe these community engagement activities; through its work with community groups, the University of Lincoln, and various local suppliers, Lincolnshire Co-operative Society has created a community with strong ties and respect for the co-operative model.

The rest of the conference produced equally interesting topics, :

  • A radical and progressive education initiative in the form of the Lincoln Social Science Centre co-operative;
  • A proposal by academic Dr Rory Ridley-Duff of Sheffield Hallam University to produce a theoretical framework for understanding workforce participation in organisations, including co-operatives and social enterprises;
  • A humourous look at an interesting and comprehensive archive of co-operative material held in Bishopsgate Institute, London.

UKSCS is not an organisation that remains rooted in the past however. It has recently embarked on a radical program of modernisation and innovation, with the aim of establishing the society once more as an informed commentator on the state of the movement. Member recruitment drives, rebranding, and a modernisation its internationally renowned Journal of Co-operative Studies (enabling online access) are some of the more recent and important activities but work remains. In this matter members of the co-operative movement have a part to play.

I implore any co-operators with an interest in critiquing the current state of the movement using relevant theory and best practice to get in contact with the society through their website:


In the interest of fairness, I should declare that I am a (very proud) board member of this organisation.

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