Mark launches Co-op History Project at UCLAN(March 22, 2013)
Mark launched the Co-operative Movement Community History Project by students at the University of Central Lancashire on Friday 15th March.
UCLAN students Niall McDermott, Greg Chalmers, Kaleigh Wright and Will O’Rourke have been researching the history of the Co-operative movement in Preston. They related their findings through oral interviews with local co-op members and distributed them in an audio CD, which was distributed at the launch event.
Working along with the Preston Historical Society, the students have discovered how important the movement was in Preston and the effect it had on the town, as it was then, and it’s people through the 1930’s right up to it’s decline in the 1980’s.
Will O’Rourke said: “At the start of this module, we were unaware quite how wide-ranging Co-op services are; from shops, workers clubs, sports leagues, funeral care, insurance to travel agents. As one of the volunteer’s we spoke to said: it is more than a shop, it’s a way of life”.
Mark who is a Labour and Co-operative MP gave a talk about what it means to be a Co-operative Member or Parliament. He talked about his experiences starting out in politics as a Labour and Co-op Councillor before progressing to becoming an MP and instilling the values and principles of the Co-op movement in his parliamentary work.
Mark said: “From it’s early days rooted in Rochdale, the co-operative movement has become global and there are lots of examples of co-operatives working effectively in all different parts of the world. It is very important to me, as I’m sure it is to many people in Preston, to still have the Co-op which distributes the profits to all the members, which is a very important principal.”
There are currently 32 Labour and Co-operative Members of Parliament in Westminster who all undertake to promote and support co-operatives and mutual organisations. Co-ops work for the benefit of their members rather than shareholders and a key feature of their work is to meet the needs and aspirations of their members with a concern over a wide range of issues such as the environment, animal rights and fair-trade.