Joe Fortune General Secretary 23rd March 2021 Blog Share Tweet Photo by Mister Starman on Unsplash A year ago today, we were faced with almost total uncertainty as the country went into lockdown. Today, we mourn those we have lost to the pandemic, but we also recognise how we have endured: that when confronted with the unimaginable, people and communities across the country responded with kindness, spirit, and co-operation. As the first lockdown began, I wrote to members like you to say that whilst we would have to stay apart, I believed that we would continue to co-operate together. Looking back over the last 12 months I am proud to say we did just that. The Party and the co-operative movement have worked hard to be a positive force in communities up and down the UK during this crisis. There are many inspirational stories and things we have achieved over that time, too many to capture in one email, but I am particularly proud that: 🙋 Over 100,000 people took part in our campaigns – from extending Free School Meal vouchers and standing up to tax avoiders, to cutting air pollution, protecting fair trade and upholding the ban on bee-killing pesticide. 🏛️ We helped pass a law to end violence against retail workers in Scotland, and worked to do the same in Westminster with our trade union allies. 🍏 We doubled the number of food champions in local authorities across the country, as part of our campaign to deliver Food Justice. 🔨 We published Owning the Future, setting out our vision to build a fairer, greener and more co-operative economy and society after Covid-19. 📺 We held 100+ online events, bringing thousands of members and supporters together to develop new skills and discuss our campaigns and policies. 👊🏽 We delivered new support for our regional and equalities work, helping build a stronger movement that represents the diversity and talent of our communities. 🗳️ We’ve supported our largest ever group of election candidates – 86% of voters will have at least one Co-operative Party candidate on the ballot in May. 📈 Our Party membership has reached a new record, with thousands of new members joining the Team in the last few months alone. 💜 We demonstrated real strength and focus in our work to promote, defend and champion our co-operative movement. The last year has been tough for all of us, but we’ve all worked hard to show what we can achieve when we work together. But the hard work is only getting started. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, we are at a crossroads. We can return to the unequal economy that characterised pre-Covid Britain, or we can create something better. We know that the needs of our communities and the inequality we see across the country can only be tackled with greater levels of co-operation and co-operative endeavour. This is the time where we will need to do much more. I am committed to that cause, and hope you are too. I’m excited about our plans for what comes next and I look forward to working with you on it together. I usually end blogs with a call to action. A petition to sign, a victory to share, a cause to fight for. But today, I simply want you to reflect. On what we’ve lost, and what we’ve gained. On how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. Today, we reflect. Tomorrow, we go again.