Sam Thorley and Shani Knight, who are participating in the Society’s graduate programme at its head office in Warwick, were invited to attend the Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide Global Youth Forum and share their experiences of instilling co-operative values in young people.
The pair are ambassadors for The Green Pioneers programme, a partnership between The Midcounties Co-operative and The Outward Bound Trust, and their presentation centred around its work with partner schools to develop environmental awareness among 14 and 15 year olds.
The President of the Central Co-operative Union of Bulgaria, even expressed an interest in launching its own version of Green Pioneers.
The conference also offered an invaluable opportunity for Sam and Shani to share experiences with fellow co-operators from countries as diverse as Italy, Finland, Russia, Argentina and Botswana.
Speaking following the conference, Sam Thorley said:
“Attending the Worldwide Global Youth Forum gave us a real insight into different ways of engaging with young people – from Finland, where 30 per cent of co-op members are under the age of 25, to Africa, where there have traditionally been issues with raising co-operative awareness among a youthful audience.
“It gave us a platform not only to share our experiences, but to learn about best practice from across the globe. It’s an experience that can only help us in our work here at The Midcounties Co-operative, and ultimately to improve the way we work with young people.”
The pair are now looking to remain in touch with their new contacts, and have already been sharing their views on how to move forward from the conference.
Shani Knight explained:
“We didn’t just gain new contacts, but new friends, and we’ve set up our own WhatsApp group to keep on sharing our experiences over the coming months. It was also announced at the conference that there will be a new online platform for global co-operatives to share best practice, and we’re looking forward to contributing to that.
“The conference really proved that you’re never too young to change the world, and we’re looking forward to working with colleagues around the world to find new ways of working with young people to make a real co-operative difference.”