I was asked at the Co-operative Congress whether I was a member of the National Guild of Co-operators, to which I had to answer no. Rightly or maybe wrongly I have tended to see the Guild (first set up in 1926) as something of a relic of a previous period of British co-operation and one with only a limited role to play today. (In fairness to the Guild, they have a website here where you can find out more.)
The question was asked in the broader context of whether we need an effective organisation of individuals who identify with the co-operative movement (Co-operatives UK – quite rightly – being a member organisation of co-operatives rather than of individuals). This was a question which also began to be posed last year, in the context of the Ways Forward initiative hosted by Co-operative Business Consultants.
I tend to think that this would be a useful step forward (although what such an organisation or network would seek to achieve with its members’ contributions is of course a wide open question). In the meantime, there is SOLIDFUND, the solidarity fund originally established by the workers’ co-operative movement which is increasingly attracting a wider range of supporters and now has around 500 participants. It’s worth checking out, if you haven’t already signed up.