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More than 150 co-operators are due to gather in Manchester to discuss community-led responses to the global heating crisis

Why is climate justice important for the co-op movement? How can co-operation and co-operatives be seen as relevant to the climate movement? What is the best way to build effective alliances across communities that address the need for systemic change?

These are some of the key questions at the Ways Forward conference on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 October. 

Over 150 co-operators are expected to gather at Central Hall in Manchester’s Northern Quarter to share information and strengthen the co-operative networks that are needed to act on these issues. 

The focus of the two-day event will be “on the key role of co-operation in effective community-led responses to the climate crisis that not only enable us to take action to cut our emissions, but do so in a just way”.

Speakers include Steve Graby (Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People), Elle Glenny (Tipping Point), Amy Hall (Bunker Housing Co-op), and representatives of Unicorn Grocery and Manchester Veg People.

The event is organised by Platform 6, which supports new and existing co-ops, and encourages collaboration between ‘disparate but broadly aligned’ social movements, public sector organisations, businesses and the third sector. 

Through a series of workshop discussions, panel sessions and plenaries, the Ways Forward conference will cover a range of topics, including energy, housing, education, disability, austerity, retrofit, food and farming, diversity and anti-racism, politics and economics.

The first day of the conference will start with an opening keynote address, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A, exploring the key issues driving the conference and setting the scene for the sessions to follow. After lunch, attendees will be able to participate in parallel workshops and a closing plenary session.

A cabaret event will take place on Thursday evening, led by ‘international man of dignity’ Deacon Martin, performer and director at the Church of the Eternal Question, which, according to its website, is the world’s first virtual church and “…to organised religion what anti-matter is to matter”.

The focus for day two will be around the role of the public sector, through strategies such as community wealth building, in enabling co-operation at scale in pursuit of inclusive green community and economic development.

Registration for the event is open now, and in an effort to make the event accessible to as many as possible, Ways Forward are offering a range of pricing options to help those on restricted budgets, as well as a number of bursaries to fund those for whom the ticket price is a barrier. 

People can also sign up for volunteer places. In exchange for a ticket, volunteers help out throughout the day from set-up to tidy up. Lunch will be provided, and when they aren’t needed volunteers are free to participate in the conference.

This will be the 8th Ways Forward conference, after a break since Ways Forward 7 in 2019 forced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Themes covered in previous editions have included digital technology, governance, membership and people’s power in the workplace.

Ways Forward highlights the role of co-operation and mutual aid in response to the pandemic, and aims to use this year’s conference to explore how best to take forward this approach in the context of the climate crisis.

“As the cost of living crisis bites, the deep inequalities in our society are increasingly plain to see,” said an event spokesperson. “The need for inclusive economies and climate justice has never been clearer or more urgent. 

“This conference will show that effective solutions already exist, that they are built on sound values and principles, and that through wider co-operation – across communities and social movements, between public, private and third sectors – we can scale these out widely and at speed.”

For further information on the programme and tickets, visit

This article was originally published at Co-op News

Featured image: Meggyn Pomerleau on Unsplash

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  • Alice Toomer-McAlpine

    Co-founder and Co-editor of The Meteor, Alice is a community worker and journalist from Manchester who works across a range of roles including youth work, community organising, video production and creative documentation of non-profit projects. Alice is interested in how the stories we create and share shape the world we live in, and how communities can take ownership of their stories and build trust with local independent media to build collective power.

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