The Big Society and the co-operative contribution to Sustainable Communities

A FREE virtual event via Zoom on 2nd July 2022 from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm.

Following the considerable success of the Inaugural Lecture in 2021 we would like to invite you to join us at the second Robert Owen Annual Lecture.

The scale of the challenge to create and maintain sustainable communities is enormous because sustainability must be at the core of all future community planning. Our vision which we are seeking to develop is that by 2050 most, if not all, rural communities will have:

  • Access to clean air and water
  • Sound economic opportunities
  • A safe and healthy place to raise their young people
  • Adequate, affordable and environmentally sound places of shelter
  • Universal opportunities for high quality lifelong learning
  • A strong sense of community and a commitment to mutual support & responsibility
  • A meaningful democratic say in the decisions – macro & micro – that affect their lives

The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted many community challenges and shortcomings as well as encouraging some radical solutions. To this must be added the impact of Brexit as well as the current standards of living crisis against a back drop of war in Europe.

We cordially invite you to join us at this seminal lecture to hear from speakers who will propose a range of possible solutions as well as raising new issues. We have every confidence that this will contribute to our mission to seek new approaches to developing and maintaining sustainable communities in a challenging environment.

We are a member owned, values led co-operatives seeking to offer effective support to Marches communities. We live in unprecedented times where innovative ideas have never been more necessary if our communities and our people are to survive, prosper and offer hope for the future to our young people.

The event will be chaired by Geoff Hughes, Consultant and former Director, Herefordshire Council and led by speakers with a wealth of community, co-operative and mutual experience:

  • Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire was educated at Oxford University, and has a Masters and PhD from University College London. He ran an educational project giving away medical and other textbooks in Eastern Europe; worked for Barclays on Eastern Europe and other emerging markets; taught and carried out research in philosophy at UCL, and later at Birkbeck College. A lifelong volunteer, Jesse has raised over half a million pounds for charity; has been a school governor of an inner city comprehensive and worked with the Roundhouse arts centre and urban regeneration project, helping many disadvantaged young people. He has been a board member of the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, and patron of other local charities.
  • Amelia Washbourne, Community Activist, Fresh Start South Wye, Director and resident of the South Wye area of Hereford for over 35 years working in the NHS with a background in local government, health and social care and early years education. A mother and grandmother with deep roots in the community and a long standing interest in improving the level of service delivery and quality of life for residents. Amelia is currently working on the visionary Fresh Start South Wye project, in an area that has high levels of deprivation with the resultant impact on health, crime, achievement and ambition. Change and improvement with fundamental community regeneration is required and a group has come together to work to restore the community through a macro public/private initiative which would be strategically managed through a community wide South Wye co-operative business organisation.
  • Baroness Sue Hayman, The Co-operative Party, Rural Co-operative Commission is a Labour politician and life peer serving as a Shadow Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She was the Labour Member of Parliament for Workington from 2015-2019 and served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2017 to 2019. She is currently a member of the Co-operative Party, Rural Co-operative Commission that has been launched to bring together the best ideas for how the co-operative movement can contribute to our rural life.

We hope that you will join us, support our vision and mission and engage with us as we offer co-operative solutions to current and future challenges. There will be a Q&A and discussion seeking pointers for the future.

To book FREE please click on here: The Big Society & the co-operative contribution to Sustainable Communities Tickets, Sat 2 Jul 2022 at 11:00 | Eventbrite. On the page click on register and enter your details.  Alternatively, you can go and search for “Big Society”. Click on register and follow the instructions. If you have any problems please email us at

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