Co-operative workers from across the region gathered in Milton Keynes to launch a year of celebration.
The 2012 International Year of Co-operatives was launched at the Chrysalis Theatre with a day of activities and entertainment.
Staff from 21 of the region’s co-operatives attended the event, including Milton Keynes Credit Union, Shenley Church End Housing Co-op, Leighton Buzzard Woodcraft Folk and Milton Keynes Peace and Justice Network.
The guests were entertained by a steel band and pledged to take individual actions to act more co-operatively and help build a better world.
The 2012 International Year of Co-operatives was organised by the United Nations in an aim to highlight how ‘Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World’.
Sabina Crouch, membership officer for the South Midlands, said: “As part of the co-operative movement, The Co-operative Group is committed to the communities in which we trade, and we support local charities and good causes via our Community Fund.
“But, as well as supporting the local community, we lead the way on Fairtrade and are part of a much wider community, the huge, international movement of co-operation.
“Thanks to the International Year of Co-operatives, everyone from our store staff in Milton Keynes, to the Ibaraki fishing co-operative in Japan can celebrate the responsible way we do business.”
Co-operatives provide over 100 million jobs around the world, and The Co-operative Group has 4,800 trading outlets in the UK. The year will include a programme of activities and materials aimed at raising awareness of the UK co-operative sector.