Tiziana O’Hara attended Co-op Congress 2022. This year theme was ‘Empowering Co-operation’ and took place in Birmingham on 17thand 18thJune.
Tiziana took part in a session on co-op development and spoke alongside her counterparts in Scotland and Wales. While Derek Walker from Cwmpas and Darah Zahran in Scotland talked about the successes they had in persuading their respective local Government to mainstreaming co-operative development and consistently support their agencies, Tiziana highlighted the fact that emerging co-operatives in NI still depend on for support on programmes funded by organisations within the extended, and mostly outside NI, co-operative movement such as Co-op Foundation and Co-ops UK/Co-op Bank.
Out of the 11 local authorities, the Belfast City Council is the only one with a specialised support for co-ops still even though economic development is now a Councils’ responsibility. These programmes are delivered by Co-op Alternatives and offer the support, training and advice needed to keep co-operatives as an option in NI.
Questioned by the audience if co-operation makes a difference in a divided society, Tiziana said that it eventually does and more co-operatives are now working across communities around common purposes such as food, energy and farming but also football and housing.