Robert Owen’s 14 May 2021 250th Anniversary event

Seventy participants celebrated Owen’s birthday with a programme from Newtown to Japan and back again, making this a memorable celebration. Activity included:

Welcome by Cllr. David Selby, Mayor of Newtown, joining us, with floral tribute from the Co-operative Group

Greetings: Akira Kurimoto, former Secretary General, Robert Owen Association (Japan) Organising committee, ICA Global Congress, Seoul, December 2021

  • What would Robert Owen be doing today?’ School children interview the First Minister of Wales
  • ‘What Owenite ideals descended to the modern Co-operative Movement?’

Cilla Ross, Researcher/Activist,

Sara Vicari,, (Rome),

Gillian Lonergan, former National Co-operative Archive Librarian

Facilitator: Rebecca Harvey, Executive Editor, Co-op Press

  • ‘How do we keep Owen’s ideals burning brightly?’

Sara Vicari, (Rome),

Michael Brown, Director for Open Newtown,

Dan McCullum, Awel Aman Tawe,

Rory Ridley-Duff, Chair, UK Society for Co-operative Studies,

Ceri Cunningham & Selwyn Williams , Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog

We are very pleased to acknowledge financial support received from several UK Co-operative Societies and other Co-op Member Education organisations. Thanks are due to all those who have contributed to making Owen’s Birthday celebrations possible. Special thanks  are due to Rebecca Harvey, at the Co-op Press, who at our suggestion interviewed the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS; and recorded Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd pupils interviewing our First Minister in March 2021. A short publication is being prepared to capture presentations and participant views with an edited video of event highlights.

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Newtown school children from Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd who recently interviewed Mark Drakeford about Robert Owen

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Was Robert Owen a Radical Visionary or just a very canny businessman? Owen’s 250th Legacy Celebration. What lessons can we learn for the 21st Century?


Participants wishing to attend our Friday 14th May & Saturday 3rd July 2021 events please see two separate Eventbrite links.

For Friday May 14th   
For  Saturday July 3rd 

English and Welsh messages follow with  a programme for each event.

 2021 marks Robert Owen’s 250th birthday. This anniversary celebrates his ‘bankful of ideas’ about alternative ways of organising society from pre-school play to the co-operative movement. As opposed to competition, his central purpose was to support democracy, self-government and co-operative advance through ‘voluntary association’, with education seen as the primary driver of social change.

 ‘Voluntary association’ was based upon the common interest and the public good being able to deliver “goods for members/associates now, rather than everything for everyone but … after the next election, after the revolution, in the afterlife.” (Stephen Yeo) ^

 Owen’s work led to co-operatives, mutuals, trade unions, building and friendly societies. These developments have had global reach as recognised in the 2012 UN International Year of Co-operatives. Continue reading

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Robert Owen’s 250th Anniversary raised in the Senedd today

Here is Huw’s great contribution in the Senedd today and the Minister (Rebecca) response – Huw Irranca-Davies | Member of the Senedd | Wales ( Many Senedd members generally seemed agreeable to his remarks. No reference is made to the idea of a National Robert Owen Day but its time will come! 

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This is the most important clip you’ll ever see!

We have never seen a stronger case advanced for the role and values of the global Co-operative Movement

 full version on  

 Here is Dr. Mike Ryan speaking at a @trocaire event speaking about the catastrophe we’re walking into.

We genuinely think this is the most important clip you’ll ever see. So true. Robert Owens work is still unfinished in his 250th anniversary year. Watch this space for future events.

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Everything you need to know about Fairtrade

“For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March, thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks. mine our gold and who grow the cotton in our clothes, people who are often exploited and underpaid.

In 2021, Fairtrade Fortnight will feel very different. 2020 has been a hard year for everyone and we know that physically campaigning and meeting people will continue to be challenging in 2021 but we have also heard from so many of you that you want to continue to support Fairtrade through this time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us more than ever how interconnected we are globally. This interconnection is at the very heart of the Fairtrade message and is where your role begins. You are part of the Fairtrade movement and you have the power to drive long-term change, not only with your shopping choices but with your support in spreading the message. We just have to do this a little differently in 2021!”

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Celebrate Robert Owen’s 250th Anniversary

Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a great man of history who pioneered modern socialism, the trade union and co-operative movements. He has never been given the recognition he deserved and many of his ideas from enlightening the “dark satanic mills” around the world to Early Years Education are still fresh today. His ideas have changed the world wide over. This is more than amply demonstrated by a series of excellent videos produced by

In this 250th anniversary ideas we are championing the idea of a national Robert Owen Day in our schools. We are very pleased that the Wales Co-operative Party have included this in their Welsh General Election Manifesto. Could other political parties please note!

It is not widely understood that co-operation goes well beyond ‘doing good’, ‘wellbeing’ or High Street shops & funeral parlours. At a time of rapacious capitalism Owen’s greatest legacy has been pioneering economic democracy and  Co-operative values in a rapidly changing world threatened by extinction.

Eddie Butler in his BBC Wales and history of the world series captures a brief picture of Owen from 12.16 to 15.29 minutes. – you may need to register.

The Robert Owen Museum have crafted a well balanced contribution on Owen’s view of slavery which is well worth a read.

Shortly, we will be providing a listing of Robert Owen 250th anniversary events. If you plan an event, or require support please do get in touch.

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Co-operation and a 21st-Century Food Strategy for Wales

At a time of declining wages of cotton and woollen workers failing to improve wages and conditions, the Co-operative Movement grew out of the efforts of early Owenite socialists and chartists and the need for pure, unadulterated goods, keen pricing and a member dividend on purchases. At first the shop only sold five basic items – butter, flour, sugar, oatmeal and candles – but after very many difficulties expanded very quickly. This is our co-operative contribution in developing a food strategy in Wales.

Food is the cornerstone of existence, tying into multiple other policy areas across the whole of devolved government (health and social care, education, anti-poverty, wellbeing, agriculture and environment, to name a few). It is therefore critical that we have a food strategy fit for purpose, one that is collaborative in its approach. However, the Welsh Government’s current food strategy is disconnected, with insufficient collaboration across the devolved policy spectrum. 

One way to support our vision of a food and farming, circular and foundational economy (key tenets of the current Labour administration) would be to ensure collaboration through the creation of a Wales Food Commission. This Commission would direct and monitor a new cross-departmental food system strategy which will deliver for our health, environment, economy and society. This new strategy would drive and reward sustainable Farm & Fishing to Fork supply chains, address food waste and promote healthy, sustainable diets and consumption for all. 

One key part of this strategy will be public sector procurement. Procurement will be a central driver in ensuring collaborative working, focussing on significant areas including: 

• Nutritious Food for all – A food strategy must ensure the 70,000 children in Wales that live in poverty currently not eligible for Free School Meals, receive them. This would help reduce long-term health inequalities, particularly in terms of preventable diseases, including diabetes (which costs the Welsh NHS approximately £500 million annually, 10% of its annual budget), strokes and coronary heart disease. This approach would also remove stigma and administration processes associated with means testing.

• Food for public health – School food standards should be aligned to the Eat Well guide and public procurement and increase sustainable production capability/potential of healthy food in Wales, with similar attention to be given to NHS catering. This alignment is already being considered. 

• Food Literacy – This would require schools to offer experiential food literacy education to equip pupils with essential life skills and the knowledge and confidence to grow, prepare and choose healthy food that will support positive health outcomes and help reduce health care costs.

• Net zero food system and farming for nature and the climate – Public sector procurement standards should be aligned to environmental standards/targets to drive much needed change.

• More sustainable seafood – Welsh seafood should be sustainably incorporated into school and NHS food standards.

• Sustainable food sector jobs and livelihoods – We need sustainable and fairly paid jobs in farming, fisheries, food manufacture and public sector catering, including the school meal service. Rural, valley and coastal communities have been suggested to be the hardest hit by Covid-19; jobs should be targeted to these areas. 

• Food Justice -. During Covid-19, councils, community initiatives and food operations demonstrated what benefits can be achieved when we work together and co-ordinate action in ensuring food access. To embed that extraordinary effort we support the appointment of local food champions and the development and co-ordination of locally based approaches to food access, including support for community food projects and social prescribing. Let us also highlight the importance of what use to be called ‘meals on wheels’ an essential service that works really well, for example, in Cardiff. 

• Co-operative solutions have much to offer. Government should support: food processing and distribution such as food hubs and worker co-ops to foster local economies; small and medium sized enterprises and co-op producers to reduce the environmental impact of transportation and enable better use of resources; further development of secondary co-ops in agriculture and tourism to promote economies of scale and joint marketing; and fresh food co-ops and co-operative community initiatives such as Incredible Edible, including making land available for community growing. 

• Healthy Start Scheme in Wales – Government should actively consider whether the scheme is the best vehicle for supporting low-income families with young children to access a healthy diet. Government should gather evidence to see how we can strengthen delivery and continue to work with the UK Government to increase the uptake of the scheme, including through digitalisation. 

In conclusion, food and farming are being overlooked as a way to drive economic recovery in Wales. We need to learn from the Covid-19 crisis to develop a resilient, fair, sustainable system of food, farming and fishing that works for everyone. A food system which provides everyone with healthy food and also fit to tackle food poverty, climate change and restore nature, whilst providing good and safe livelihoods. The creation of an independent, representative Wales Food Commission would direct and monitor a new cross-departmental food system strategy to bring about a food system fit for the 21st Century in Wales.

David Smith is a former Gwent Tertiary College Catering Lecturer, served on the Food Standards Agency (Wales) Advisory Committee and the Main Group Board Director at the Co-operative Group.

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Building a Co-operative Institution in Wales – Banc Cambria

Co-ops and Mutuals Wales & Addysg Oedolion Cymru |Adult Learning Wales presents:

Building a Co-operative Institution in Wales – Banc Cambria
Wednesday 23 September 7-8.10 pm

Wales needs to develop institutions that work for the collective good of its citizens. Mark Hooper is leading a project to establish a co-operatively owned, community bank in and for Wales. The conversation will revolve around the differences Banc Cambria will make, in terms of localised bank operations, community engagement & small business support. The session will be introduced by Mick Antoniw MS/AS Labour-Co-op Member of the Senedd for Pontypridd.

To join: Click the link and note your details and go to this event (amongst other) at once please and by September 18. A digital invitation and further directions will then be sent to you.

This event is part of Addysg Oedolion Cymru |Adult Learning Wales’s ‘Late summer school’, offering a variety of digital events in conjunction with partner organisations.


Mentrau Cydweithredol a Chydfuddiannol Cymru yn cyflwyno:

Adeiladu sefydliad cydweithredol yng Nghymru – Banc Cambria

Mercher Medi 23 7-8.10 pm

Mae Cymru angen datblygu sefydliadau sy’n gweithio er lles ei holl ddinasyddion. Mae Mark Hooper yn arwain prosiect i sefydlu banc cymunedol yng Nghymru ac i Gymru, fydd dan berchnogaeth gydweithredol. Bydd trafodaeth am y gwahaniaeth y gallai Banc Cambria wneud o ran bancio lleol, ymgysylltu cymunedol a chefnogi busnesau bychain. Bydd y sesiwn yn cael ei chyflwyno gan Mick Antoniw MS/AS, aelod Llafur a Chydweithredol y Senedd dros Bontypridd.

I ymuno: Cliciwch y linc a nodi eich manylion a’r digwyddiadau sydd o ddiddordeb (Ar unwaith o.g.dd. ac erbyn 18 Medi fan bellaf) Bydd gwahoddiad digidol a chyfarwyddiadau pellach yn cael hanfon atoch.

Mae’r digwyddiad hefyd yn ran o ‘Ysgol haf bach Mihangel’ Addysg Oedolion Cymru |Adult Learning Wales sy’n cynnig amrywiaeth o ddigwyddiadau digidol mewn cydweithrediad â phartneriaid ac aelodau cefnogol (manylion isod). Mae hefyd yn cyd-fynd gydag’r Wythnos Addysg Oedolion Ddigidol.

Iaith: Mae iaith y cyflwyniadau wedi eu nodi. Mae croeso fodd-bynnag i chi gyfrannu yn y Gymraeg i’r holl ddigwyddiadau a byddwn yn hwyluso cyfieithiad os oes angen.


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Welsh Food Alliance 2009

With the current covid-19 lockdown, food access for older people is a key  issue in this current pandemic. We are pleased to make available a 2009 Welsh Food Alliance report of a UK Older People’s Food Summit on growing malnutrition in an ageing society, which we feel is very relevant today.

UK Older People’s Food Summit Cardiff 18th March 2009

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International Women’s Day – 8 March 2019 – This year is themed around gender-balance Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter

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We need a tax funded National Care Service

With older people 80+ predicted to increase by 44% in Wales by 2030 we need active space with tax funded National Care Service for self help enterprises -member owned and controlled @CartrefiCymru @Glennwalescoop @KarenLWilkie @derekwalker_ @wgmin_deputy @wgmin_health @fmwales @JulieMorganLAB

When will we have a national conversation on how we move from the commitment in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2016 to an exclusively co-operative and publicly run social care system across Wales.

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Adult Education 100 – Making its Mark February 2019

The aim of this newsletter is to give you an update of recent events and also describe how you can contribute your expertise and ideas to both the campaign and the Centenary Commission. Disappointingly (though perhaps unsurprisingly in these troubled times) it has proved extremely difficult to secure even the most limited resources with which to deliver the campaign or indeed fully involve those who so generously and enthusiastically responded to our call. That was our plan and our intention. We continue to seek funding but are forced to do things on the proverbial shoestring, so any ideas on how to access financial support are most welcome!

Firstly, a reminder of how we got to this point. You will remember that there were two main strands to our plans for the Centenary of the Ministry of Reconstruction’s Commission on Adult Education. The first was to kick-start a Campaign which would raise the profile of adult education as a critical factor in addressing the challenges facing out times – from automation to fragmented communities, deepening inequalities to a sharpening and dangerous demographic deficit. It’s aims are:

  • ▪  To raise the profile of adult education as part of a national conversation about the need for lifelong learning in a rapidly changing world;
  • ▪  To explore the nature, purpose, and place of adult education for society’s past, present and future;
  • ▪  To encourage people and communities to value and participate in adult educational activities which developlasting understandings, opinions and experiences;
  • ▪  To develop policies and secure resources for transformative adult education.

Read the full newsletter here

Adult Education 100 Newslettter Feb 2019 -Final (1)

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Autumn Gathering in Cardiff

Adult and Community Learning and Wellbeing Across Wales (23.10.18) Cardiff

Last month there was a gathering of co-operative, educational and social enterprises in Cardiff sharing ideas for broadening adult education and learning with impacts designed to benefit the wider community.

We have set ourselves the task of  promoting equality of wellbeing through adult and community learning in a collaboration across three sectors: adult and community learning, the co-op movement, and the  third  sector. Groups including Adult Learning Wales, Cartrefi Cymru, the Co-operative Group, Co-operative College, Wales Co-operative Centre, Drivers For Change, Co-ops and Mutuals Wales and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

It may sound straightforward, but actually further work is needed so that for example we recognise positive impacts from education, which are not formally measured or accredited. Collective benefits could be more valuable than individual achievements and curriculum development must closer reflect a mapping of local community needs. So with some investigative research underway there will be another gathering of these groups to plan a way forward early in 2019.


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Co-operative Thinking – Collective Learning

Delegates: Cooperative Thinking, September 2018

Photo: Chris Hall

Continue reading

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An Invitation to Think Cooperatively, Learn Collectively

Saturday, September 8th 2018
9.30am for 10.00am – 4.00pm
The Tabernacle Chapel, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1AJ

Bringing together co-operative and community activists for shared learning Continue reading

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Co-operatives Fortnight

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Save the Date

We are planning our next all-day event for Saturday September 8th at the Tabernacle Church on the Hayes, Cardiff.

Details of this exiting event will be published in the coming weeks

Watch this space

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In wolves’ clothing? Fake Non-Profits

David Smith recommends a blog post by Ed Mayo.


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Robert Owen: socialist

‘BBC Radio 4 British Socialism: The Grand Tour – Series 1: From Robert Owen to Keir Hardie Episodes 15 minutes.Anne McElvoy traces the emergence of British socialism through the 19th century, from Robert Owen’s visionary schemes for a society based on villages sharing goods in common, to the arrival of Labour MPs in Parliament 1906’ 

The omnibus edition is on Friday evening at 21:00 –

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