Last week I took a trip north of the border to visit Rutherglen and Hamilton West ahead of the upcoming by-election.

With a fantastic Labour candidate and a real groundswell of energy from Labour and Co-operative Party members joining us on the doorsteps, the response we received from local residents mirrored our desire for change.

For too long, too many people have simply felt let down by governments in Westminster and Holyrood, and this by-election is an important moment to offer the alternative that people need.

But it’s also just the start. Over the coming months, focus will turn to the General Election and our efforts to offer this change not only to voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, but right across the country.

That’s why the Co-operative Party is hitting the ground running after summer.

As we inch closer and closer to the General Election, there has never been a more important time to share our co-operative ideas and solutions, and we’ll be doing just that over the coming weeks.

At our Annual Conference in September, we’ll be bringing together a fantastic programme to cover our key policy offers in areas like co-op growth, community energy, and local ownership.

Alongside our keynote speakers Jonathan Reynolds MP and Ed Miliband MP, we’ll be joined by fantastic speakers from across the UK as well as our members and supporters to look at the difference co-operators can make and demonstrate our ambition for change.

We’ll also be hosting important events at Labour Party conference in Liverpool, where once again we’ll be looking at the co-operative contribution to challenges right across our economy, and tackling issues such as how co-operative values and principles can support our electoral efforts in rural and coastal communities.

And with our return to Westminster, we’ll be continuing to raise the issues that matter to the co-operative movement, such as tackling the increasing rates of organised retail crime and the impact on retail workers themselves.

At a critical time, we must demonstrate what our party and movement has to offer, and the vital role we can play in delivering the change that people are crying out for.

But to do that and ensure we can put our bold ambition into action, the support of our members and supports is vital.

So I encourage everyone to join us at our events, conferences, campaigns sessions, and activities over the coming weeks and months to make the most of the opportunities the Party is offering.

That way, together we can replicate the energy and optimism I saw in Scotland this week, and best put forward our co-operative case for change ahead of the next election.