person in blue crew neck t-shirt holding white plastic bag

Looking back on 2020 is something we will do for many years. But in the face of significant struggles, we can reflect on a year within the Co-operative Party and movement with real pride and take huge inspiration for the future.

The UK responded to this crisis not with division, but with co-operation.

We befriended neighbours, joined mutual aid groups, donated to foodbanks and more. We came together in solidarity. In a year where co-operation faced off against the constraints of coronavirus repeatedly, we as a Party found a way not only to survive, but to thrive.

When events were cancelled, we took them online. When campaigns couldn’t be carried out in person, we built virtual tools. When elections were postponed, we trained and recruited more candidates. When communities suffered, we came together and co-operated out of the crisis.

We were at the vanguard, protecting and promoting our movement and co-operatives when they needed it most. Because for so many in our movement: shopworkers, childcare providers, teachers and more – they couldn’t wait for a ‘return to normal’. They need us to be actively fighting for them and their communities. So that’s what we did – here are just some of the results:

  • We worked to see shopworkers recognised as key workers – so they received the protections and benefits they deserve – and intensified our campaign to tackle violence and abuse in our shops.
  • We helped councils across the country change the way they approach food poverty, embedding food justice with food champions and food partnerships.
  • We helped ensure foodbanks received the guidance they needed to stay open during lockdown, providing a vital lifeline to hungry families.
  • We reached the landmark 100th council signed up to our Modern Slavery Charter, to ensure your council tax doesn’t inadvertently fund exploitation.
  • We laid out our plans for owning the future post-Covid, expanding the co-operative economy and using our values and principles to tackle inequality.
  • And overall, we saw nearly 200,000 people engage with our campaigns, over 25,000 new people sign up to become supporters of our work, and hit a record high in our membership.

I’m proud that in the face of the most difficult year, we have been more effective than ever. The breadth and scope of the issues we’ve tackled: mental health, community assets, childcare, Fairtrade, fair tax, international development, pubs, bereavement, co-operative governance, air pollution, mutual banking, football governance, inequality, the digital divide – the list could go on and on.

But there is so much more to do, and we are aiming for an even bigger and better year in 2021.

We will be embarking on a new equalities project to ensure that our Party reflects and represents all communities. This year showed that communities are inherently co-operative, so we will have new organisers working to bring lasting change to towns and cities all over the country. And crucially, 2021 will see one of the biggest sets of elections in recent years: we may need to campaign differently next year, but we are more than ready for the challenge.

When we began 2020, we couldn’t have anticipated what the year would bring, and I’m sure 2021 will also hold some surprises. But we’re ready to face it, together.

Our work is only possible thanks to our incredible members. So thank you for all your support in 2020 and best wishes for the New Year from all of us at the Co-operative Party.