The January 2019 edition of Co-op News is a a celebration of new co-operatives in the new year - including a focus on Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, a look a the fairness of Fairtrade - and Suma Wholefood's updated branding.

The January 2019 edition of Co-op News is a a celebration of new co-operatives in the new year - including a focus on Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, a look a the fairness of Fairtrade - and Suma Wholefood's updated branding.


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Choosing the

co-op model

Plus ... is Fairtrade

really fair? ... A new look

for Suma Wholefoods ...

What to read in 2019

ISSN 0009-9821

9 770009 982010




Introducing Revolver

Cooperative’s Luxury Belgian

Drinking Chocolate

Perfect for hot and cold chocolate

milk drinks, or as a finishing touch

for ice cream, desserts

and cakes.

Sold exclusively through Midcounties

Cooperative food stores at just

£4.49 or on line from


Revolver Cooperative is a multi-stakeholder cooperative,

donating 25% of our profits to our farmers and their communities.

Ranked 1st in ethics amongst 32 European coffee brands by the Ethical Consumer magazine


New year,

new co-operatives




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,

Manchester M60 0AS

(00) 44 161 214 0870




Rebecca Harvey



Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.coop


Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.coop


Keir Mucklestone-Barnett


Elaine Dean (chair), David Paterson

(vice-chair), Sofygil Crew, Gavin

Ewing, Tim Hartley, Beverley Perkins

and Barbara Rainford. Secretary:

Richard Bickle

Established in 1871, Co-operative

News is published by Co-operative

Press Ltd, a registered society under

the Co-operative and Community

Benefit Society Act 2014. It is printed

every month by Buxton Press, Palace

Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE.

Membership of Co-operative Press is

open to individual readers as well as

to other co-operatives, corporate bodies

and unincorporated organisations.

The Co-operative News mission statement

is to connect, champion and challenge

the global co-operative movement,

through fair and objective journalism

and open and honest comment and

debate. Co-op News is, on occasion,

supported by co-operatives, but

final editorial control remains with

Co-operative News unless specifically

labelled ‘advertorial’. The information

and views set out in opinion articles

and letters do not necessarily reflect

the opinion of Co-operative News.



The biggest co-operative societies are in retail, agriculture and

finance. They are the organisations with the most members, the

most influence and plenty of resources to spread news of their

achievements. So it is often these big names that get the headlines.

But whatever the size of a co-operative, they are plugged into

a movement that is bigger than the sum of its parts. And whether they

have five members or 500,000, co-ops are bound together by values

and principles that span geographies and sectors.

In celebration of this, and with the help of Co-operatives UK and other

friends around the world, for the first issue of 2019 we are looking

at some of the co-operative communities that have sprung up over

the last 15 years or so, where people are working together to achieve

more for their members and their communities than they could on

their own.

In the Stirchley area of Birmingham, the Anfield / Everton area

of Liverpool and in Stretford, on the outskirts of Manchester,

communities are teaching skills and meeting neighbours while at

the same time creating sustainable businesses that benefit the wider

community (p28-33).

Local communities aren’t the only ones benefiting from this new

growth in co-operation though – the Contractor Co-operative was

recently set up specifically to offer security to those at the sharp end

of short-term contracts and the expanding gig economy (p36-37).

Then there’s the Creative Coop, born of a desire to work within a fairer,

more ethical business model and strip back the layers of hierarchy

often found in traditional creative agencies (40-41).

We also hear how co-ops in Europe are being set up by and for youth

at risk of exclusion (p42-43) – and how social enterprises are being

encouraged in the USA (p44-45). And we speak to Suma about their

new branding and refreshed look (p26-27) and revisit the question

of the fairness of Fairtrade (p46-47).


Co-operative News is printed using vegetable oil-based

inks on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer

waste) with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC

certified sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.

JANUARY 2019 | 3

ISSN 0009-9821

9 770009 982010




Meet Jane Avery, vice-president of Central

England Co-op (p22-23); Suma worker

co-op rebrands (p26-27); Bristol Bike

Project welcomes volunteers and is looking

for a new home (p38-39); and delegates

discuss how Co-ops can empower young

people that feel disenfranchised at Cecop

-Cicopa Europe (p42-43)

news Issue #7303 JANUARY 2019

Connecting, championing, challenging




Choosing the

co-op model

Plus ... is Fairtrade

really fair? ... A new look

for Suma Wholefoods ...

What to read in 2019



COVER: FairBnB is a new

co-op being launched by

a group of activists as

an alternative platform

for person-to-person

vacation rentals

Read more: p44-45


Vice-president of the Central England



Suma Wholefoods has undergone a

rebrand to stress its co-op credentials

and create more consistency




The communities working together

in and around the Stirchley area of the

city: Loaf Baker, the Old Print Works,

Children’s Quarter and Glue collective



How the Friends of Stretford Public

Hall and Projekts MCR are making

a difference locally



Kitty’s Laundrette and Homebaked

are building on the city’s co-operative

heritage for a new generation


Can FairBnB become a platform for

community-powered tourism?


A new co-operative offering security

to those at the sharp end of short

-term contracts and the expanding

gig economy


Celebrating 10 years of empowering

communities through the power of

the humble bike


Innovation, creativity and booming

business – the co-operative way

42-43 YOUTH

The role of co-ops in helping young

people who feel disenfranchised


Setting up community businesses:

social enterprises in the USA


The Fairtrade debate: does certification

have a positive or negative impact overall?


5-13 UK updates

14-21 Global updates

24 Letters

48 Books

4 | JANUARY 2019


Sam was rushed straight to hospital as he had lost a

lot of blood. The police arrived and when the store

manager Jon arrived he described it as “a scene

from a horror movie.” There was blood everywhere,

and police tape covering the shop.

about what had happened, so I told them to talk to

me and I asked LifeWorks for the tools to help. They

were great.”

The three men were caught in the middle of a

similar attempt elsewhere. Between them they

were sentenced to 26 years in prison.


Lobbying, tech and outreach: Group sets out its response to store attacks


p Artwork from the Group to support its new campaign

The Co-op Group National Member’s

Council has made Safer Colleagues, Safer

Communities an official campaign.

The decision by the council, which

represents the society’s 4.6 million

members, means the Group will campaign

“to get to get the issue of colleague and

community safety taken more seriously

and use our community presence to tackle

root causes of violence and crime”.

A report from the Group includes case

studies of violent incidents at stores,

including harrowing accounts of robberies

where staff were threatened with axes

and crowbars.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of the

Group’s Food division, said: “The Co-op

is committed to tackling crime impacting

our colleagues and the communities in

which they live.”

Steps already taken include work with

MPs Alex Norris (Labour/Co-op) and

David Hanson (Labour) to amend the

Offensive Weapons Bill to provide greater

protection for shop workers.

The Group will also work with other

co-op retailers, the wider business

community and trade unions, including

the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied

Workers (Usdaw), whose general secretary

Paddy Lillis discussed the issue of store

security in a speech to the Co-op Party

in October.

“We supported Usdaw’s Respect for

Shop workers week,” added Ms Whitfield,

“where we welcomed 48 MPs into our

shops and talked to them about the

impact crime has on our colleagues. We’ve

also been talking to other influential

people like the police, community

groups and the media and leading the

conversation that this is a crime against

people, our colleagues and communities,

not business.”

She said the campaign will also see “a

focused investment in our shops to reduce

the impact on colleagues even further.

“This year we’ve significantly invested

into technology such as intelligent

CCTV, colleague headsets, guarding in

vulnerable stores during at risk hours

and training of our colleagues and this

will continue.”

Store crime has sparked concern

across the co-op retail movement this

year, prompting new security measures

– including beefed-up CCTV and ATM

security at Central England Co-op and

the launch of a business offering security

services at East of England Co-op.

The Group, which in September

received a petition from staff complaining

that staffing levels were dangerously

low in stores at night, offered detail of

specific uses of its security measures in

the report.

These include the introduction

of headsets for staff so they can stay in

contact with each other at all times, and

working with the police to bring stores

closer to their communities and to work

with young repeat offenders so that they

understand the effect of their actions.

It is also offering funding and other

support through its Local Community

Fund to organisations working to reduce

anti-social behaviour, including the

Damilola Taylor Trust, which supports

young people aged 12-24 in South London,

Streetsport, which delivers youth activity

in Aberdeen, and the Streetwise project

in Bradford, which works to give young

people a new direction in life.

uFrom January 2019, members of the

Co-op Group will no longer earn points

from Co-op Bank products. An email has

been sent to members advising them of

the change, which follows the sale of the

Group’s remaining stake in the Bank.

JANUARY 2019 | 5


Changes to apprentice levy would aid job creation, says Group

The Co-op Group has called for an urgent

review of the apprentice levy system,

introduced by the government last year

to fund employment training.

Under the levy, employers with a pay bill

of more than £3m a year must pay into a

fund for apprenticeship schemes. Since its

introduction, it has come under fire from

business groups such as manufacturers’

organisation EEF, and the CBI.

Critics say it is overly complex and fails

to persuade employers, who often see it as

just another tax, to take on apprentices.

In February this year, it was reported that

the number of new apprenticeships had

dropped by 30% on the previous year.

Now the Group – which has itself

employed more than 4,000 apprentices

since 2011 and calls itself a “front runner”

in hiring apprentices, has called for

an overhaul.

It says around 400 more placements

could be offered if there were basic

changes to the levy – such as allowing

firms to use the fund to cover travel and

accommodation costs on training courses.

p The Group has hired more than 4,000 apprentices since 2011 (Photo: The Co-op Group)

Helen Webb, chief people officer at the

Group, said: “We share the government’s

vision, but there needs to be an urgent

review of how the levy works in practice.

“We support the principle that 20%

of an apprentice’s time is spent off the

job in training, but funding guidelines

mean that we can’t use our levy. This

costs us more than £5m a year to finance

our apprentices when they are out of the

business, reimbursing their travel costs or

paying for someone to cover their duties.

“Our business is currently having to

spend an additional £3.2m to support

these costs as it can’t be claimed through

the levy. If we could use the levy to cover

these costs we could offer up to 400 more

apprenticeship roles.”

Green innovation: The carrier bags

that can help feed the soil

Three more schools join the

Group’s schools network

More than 1,000 Co-op Group food stores

are supplying new compostable carrier

bags to help replace the 60 million singleuse

plastic bags used across the UK.

The 5p bags are initially available

at stores based in areas where the

local authority accepts them in

household food waste collection.

Approved for home composting, they can

be reused as food waste caddy liners and

turned into peat-free compost, along with

household food waste.

Iain Ferguson, the Group’s environment

manager, said: “Our members and

customers expect us to help them to

make more ethical choices, and we are

dedicated to doing just that. Reducing

environmental impacts is, and always has

been, at the core of the Co-op’s efforts.

“The bags are carefully designed to

help local authorities with food waste

recycling, supporting their community

and resident engagement and reducing

plastic contamination in a targeted way.”

Historic building restoration

boosted by store donations

Shoppers at Co-op Group stores in south

Wales have helped raised more than

£6,200 for the restoration of the Guildhall

in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

A restoration project is under way to

transform the 13th century building into

an educational facility, community hub

and visitors’ centre.

Llantrisant Guildhall Restoration Project

trustees visited stores in Southgate and

Pontyclun to thank shoppers and staff.

Guildhall manager Dean Powell said:

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of

organisations, businesses and individuals

across the region for their support.”

The Co-op Academies Trust has welcomed

three new schools to the fold.

In December, two primaries – Co-op

Academy Friarswood, in Newcastle Under

Lyme, and Co-op Academy Woodslee,

Birkenhead, signed up to the trust,

alongside Co-op Academy Walkden,

a secondary in Salford.

Frank Norris, director of the Co-op

Academies Trust, said: “The effect of a good

school that was previously failing or weak

is immense in regenerating communities

and we have established a great track

record of turning around schools, which

were previously struggling.”

6 | JANUARY 2019


£2.2m funding announced for communities looking to save their pubs...

Power to Change will provide £2.2m in

funding for people looking to save their

local pubs through community ownership.

This funding builds on the success

of the current More Than a Pub

programme, which is jointly funded by

Power to Change, an independent trust

supporting community businesses in

England, and the Ministry of Housing

Communities and Local Government.

The programme is led by Plunkett

Foundation in collaboration with Key

Fund, Co-operative and Community

Finance, the Campaign for Real Ale

(Camra), Co-operative Mutual Solutions,

Pub is the Hub, Locality and the British

Beer and Pub Association.

Since 2016 it has supported 190

communities and seen 26 pubs open their

doors under community ownership.

Announcing the new funding at

Plunkett’s Rural Community Ownership

Awards in London in December, Vidhya

Alakeson, chief executive of Power to

Change, said: “Community-run pubs are

so valuable to the people who use them,

offering a huge range of crucial services

including lunch clubs for vulnerable

people, training and development,

gardening and cooking classes.

p Celebrations as the community buys the King’s Head in Pebmarsh, Essex

“The More than a Pub programme

we have run with Plunkett has been an

enormous success so it was a natural

decision for us to continue to support this

thriving and much-loved sector.”

James Alcock, executive director

of Plunkett, added: “This announcement

is an endorsement of the role community

pubs play in creating thriving communities

and will strengthen the community pub

sector. For many, pubs are not just a place

to drink; they are central to people’s sense

of place and identity, they provide an

important space for people to meet and

help to build community cohesion.”

Co-operative and Community Finance,

a key partner in More Than A Pub, also

welcomed the announcement. Business

development manager Tim Coomer said:

“We are delighted by this news, and look

forward to working with the partnership in

the spring of 2019 to design and develop a

programme that builds on the great things

that have been achieved so far.”

Community pubs minister Jake

Berry said: “Pubs have and will continue

to be at the very heart of our communities.

The More Than a Pub programme is

a fantastic example of communities

taking ownership of their local assets,

and it’s great to see Power to Change

supporting their innovative work for

another year. I look forward to the

continued partnership work in boosting

the ever important agenda of empowering

our local communities.”

... and Wales welcomes its latest co-operative local

p Locals cheer as they save the Sportsman

The Sportsman, a pub in the coastal town

of Nefyn, Wales, will reopen for the first

time since 2009 after locals raised over

£85,000 through a community share offer

to purchase the freehold.

Launched in May, the community share

offer raised 50% of the money needed to

buy the pub. The group hosted an initial

public meeting in January 2018, which 80

people attended, and set up a committee

to run the project.

Investors were asked to buy a minimum

of 50 shares at £1 each, and more than

500 people took up the offer.

The project received support from

Community Shares Wales, a project

delivered by the Wales Co-operative

Centre. The team also worked with

the Plunkett Foundation and

Gwynedd Council.

Elin Angharad Davies, newly appointed

director and secretary, said: “We never

believed in our wildest dreams that we

would be able to raise over £80,000

pounds in just over eight weeks. We are

completely overwhelmed by the response

of our community to save their local pub,

which used to be the central meeting

place for sports clubs and visitors to the

Llyn Peninsula.

“The training and support we’ve

received from the Wales Co-operative

Centre has been second to none. They’ve

been a reliable advisor and mentor in

times of uncertainty.”

JANUARY 2019 | 7


Pitching the perfect produce for society’s local range

The Midcounties Co-operative has

launched a £10,000 award for the best

regionally produced food or drink idea

or product.

The Food Glorious Food competition

will see producers, farmers and locals

pitching their ideas to a Dragon’s Denstyle

panel of local food and drink experts

The winner will receive £10,000

to invest in their product, which will join

the Midcounties Best of our Counties

range. Runners up will also get the

chance to sell their products in selected

Midcounties stores, along with a free

one-day business skills course at

Hartpury University and Hartpury College.

Midcounties is already working with

42 Gloucestershire food and drink

businesses for its Best of Our Counties

range, including Hillside Brewery,

which supplies beers to over 120 of the

society’s stores.

Paul Williamson, director of Hillside

Brewery, said: “The support we have

received from Midcounties has been

instrumental in allowing us to grow our

business, helping us to reach areas we

would never get to on our own. There’s a

real focus on quality and local sourcing,

which made them the perfect retail

partner for us.”

He added: “I can speak from experience

when I say that securing investment

at those early stages can make all the

difference. What is perhaps even more

useful for local suppliers and individuals,

however, is the stamp of approval that

you receive from being listed by a major

retailer and the on-going mentoring and

support offered by Midcounties.

“The Food Glorious Food competition is

a unique opportunity for local businesses

to work with a dedicated team that is

committed to helping put Gloucestershire

producers on the map.”

Midcounties chief executive Phil

Ponsonby said: “Supporting local

suppliers is at the heart of what we do.

Through our Best of our Counties range

we are promoting more than 40 local

producers and this latest campaign

is designed to extend that even further.

“For the winning idea or product

there is the offer of a cash injection

and guaranteed listing across all of our

Gloucestershire stores. However, we will

be looking to work closely with all those

who enter to provide access to industry

experts and for the runners up shelf space

in selected stores.”

Those interested can enter the Food

Glorious Food competition by providing

details of their new food and drink idea

at: www.foodgloriousfood.coop.


Midcounties hosts training days to beat

the stigma around mental health

The Midcounties Co-operative is working

with Warwickshire charity Springfield

Mind to deliver mental health first aid

training for senior colleagues.

The collaboration will enable the society

to provide training for all operational

managers, executives, leadership team

ambassadors and members of the human

resources team.

Midcounties colleagues will undertake

half-day sessions to reduce the

stigma surrounding mental health in

the workplace and promote a wider

understanding of mental health and some

of the most common mental health issues.

In addition to getting advice on

how to support someone who may be

experiencing mental health problems,

colleagues will receive guidance on how

to look after their own mental health.

The training is aimed at ensuring

that all colleagues feel able to speak

openly about their issues in the

workplace without fear of being alienated

or discriminated against.

The society intends to continue to

work with Springfield Mind to deliver

similar training more widely over the next

three years.

Maria Fennell, chief executive of

Springfield Mind, said: “There is still

so much more to be done to reduce

stigma around mental health in the

workplace, and it’s encouraging to see

groups like Midcounties embracing this


“The training session we ran was

incredibly well attended, and we hope

those who attended will leave with a

greater awareness of mental health issues,

and the huge difference they can make to

their colleagues’ lives.”

Midcounties has had a long relationship

with the Springfield Mind, with two of its

p Staff at a training session

senior colleagues currently serving as

trustees of the charity.

Rebekah Brain, society engagement

manager at Midcounties, said: “The

wellbeing of our colleagues is of

paramount importance to us, and we

want to make sure anyone suffering from

mental health issues feels they have

someone to can reach out to.

“W look forward to continuing our work

with Mind in the future to ensure that we

can encourage important conversations

about mental health among Midcounties

colleagues and members.”

8 | JANUARY 2019


Community businesses celebrated at Plunkett Foundation’s annual awards

p The winners and runners up of the Rural Community Ownership Awards

The Plunkett Foundation announced

the winners of its Rural Community

Ownership Awards at a ceremony in

London in December.

Finalists included a community-owned

farm in Shropshire and a community

bakery in Scotland, alongside community

pubs and shops in Wales and England.

Plunkett, a support body for rural

community business, said there were

more than 50 entries this year – a new

record – across six categories, and called

it “a testament to the growth of the

community business sector”.

Headline sponsored by Hastoe

Housing Association, the awards also

had continued support and sponsorship

from Power to Change and the Esmée

Fairbairn Foundation.

The ceremony was hosted by Charlie

Luxton, an architectural designer, writer

and television presenter who is passionate

about affordable housing and rural

communities and has supported several

eco-friendly projects in Oxfordshire.


Slapton Community Shop in Devon won

Community Story of the Year, sponsored

by The Retail Mutual. This award

recognises the stories that capture how

community businesses provide a much

deeper role in supporting individuals

and community life. When the Beast from

the East storm struck the UK in March, it

washed away the road which connects

Slapton to Dartmouth, and members

of the shop team drove to Kingsbridge

and brought back supplies of essentials,

including bottled water, and kept the

shop open. The shelves were bare by the

time deliveries could resume, but the

village had been sustained by the efforts

of the volunteers.

p The Slapton team pick up their award

Hampstead Norreys Community Shop

in Berkshire won Diversifying to Make a

Difference, sponsored by BCRS Business

Loans. The store has come up with

innovative ideas to become plastic-free

and is working to make the community

more sustainable, involving the whole

community in an inter-generational way.

Ashwater Village Shop in Devon won

Investing in Local People, sponsored by

Suma Wholefoods. During the snowy

weather in 2017, the team kept the

community together and continued

to deliver their customers. They also

provide a foodbank service and are

excellent at fundraising and giving back to

the community.

Dunbar Community Bakery in East

Lothian won the Horace Plunkett Better

Business Award, supported by the Co-op

Group. This award recognises community

business longevity and ability to

innovative business practices. This bakery

has recovered from a long period of losses,

with a strong volunteer management

committee which set and achieved an

objective to turn around the business and

generate a surplus.

Talking Shop in Oxfordshire won the

The Little Things Award, sponsored by

the Phone Coop. In the words of one

customer “…you come away from Talking

Shop feeling happier than you went in.”

This award recognises the incredible

work undertaken by rural community

businesses to tackle loneliness and

isolation. Talking Shop has been set up

with the intention of bringing people

together. They have taken steps to

ensure everyone feels welcome and

included, no matter their age, background

or circumstance.

Rick Nickerson from Bigton Community

Enterprise in Shetland won the People’s

Choice, sponsored by Hastoe Housing

Association. This award recognises

the dedication and commitment of an

outstanding individual. When the village

store was put on sale seven years ago,

Rick Nickerson rallied the community

together to investigate a purchase. He is a

committed volunteer serving in the shop

with tireless dedication, and helps ensure

the shop is dementia and autism friendly.

James Alcock, executive director at

Plunkett, said: “The winners all represent

fantastic examples of community

p Rick Nickerson collects his award

business. The nominations recognise

the dedication within the sector to create

thriving and resilient rural communities,

and celebrate the aspects that make them

inspirational businesses.”

JANUARY 2019 | 9


Tim Bailey named chief

executive of SAOS

The Scottish Agricultural Organisation

Society (SAOS) has announced its new

chief executive as Tim Bailey, who takes

up role in March 2019.

Mr Bailey has been working in the

food supply chain for 19 years. He is

joining from Acoura (formerly Scottish

Food Quality Certification) where he

has served as agricultural director,

managing director and global head of

service delivery support. Acoura, part of

the Lloyd’s Register Group, is the UK’s

fastest growing provider of risk services

for the food and drink supply chain.

Prior to joining Acoura in 2002, Mr Bailey

practiced as a veterinary surgeon. He also

runs his own livestock farming business.

Mr Bailey takes over from James

Graham, who is retiring after 21 years

with SAOS.

He said: “SAOS is in the pivotal position

to make an even larger contribution to

the Scottish agri-food and drink industry

in the years ahead, and I believe I can

help it to achieve that. The SAOS team

is highly respected for its expertise and

track record, but also for the collaborative

values it represents and practices. SAOS’s

values and innovation capabilities will be

more important than ever to the industry

in future, as we address a wide range of

challenges and capitalise on the growth

opportunities ahead. I very much look

forward to taking up the role.”

Mark Clark, chair of SAOS, said: “Tim

brings a range of knowledge and skills

from across supply chains that will

be extremely valuable as we continue

building the organisation through our

innovation work.

“It is also vitally important that

Tim brings both a genuine interest in

Scotland’s primary and manufacturing

sectors, and empathy with SAOS’s

co-operative membership, our culture and

our values.”


Zero waste co-op to

benefit from Welsh

government funding

Co-ops and social enterprises involved

in recycling will be able to implement

new zero waste projects with the

backing of a £5.4m investment from the

Welsh government.

Announced by environment minister

Hannah Blythyn, the scheme will see eight

projects developed by social enterprises

receive capital. A zero-waste pilot project

will also provide new recycling facilities

to 24 schools in Pembrokeshire.

Crest Co-operative in North Wales is

among the social enterprises that will

receive £2.7m, along with Pembrokeshire

charity Frame and social enterprise

Newport Wastesavers. The co-op, which

runs a series of recycling projects, will

receive £1.02m to expand its infrastructure

in Conwy and Denbighshire.

p Hannah Blythyn visits Crest Co-op

Set up with lottery grants in 1998, the

community co-op operates a number of

small enterprises providing services to

communities in Conwy and Denbighshire.

In addition to selling pre-loved furniture

and electricals and running cafés, it also

helps disabled and unemployed people

increase their skills and gain employment.

Strategic business development

manager Jay Martin said the investment

would lead to more jobs and

apprenticeships. The co-op also plans to

open a new shop in Rhyl.

“In the last few years, our community

reuse stores in Llandudno Junction and

Colwyn Bay have experienced significant

growth in sales of reuse furniture,

clothing, mattresses and household goods

with sales increasing month on month.

“Aside of the obvious environmental

benefits of our reuse activities; they

also make a significant contribution

to addressing the poverty agenda by

enabling low income individuals and

families access to good quality furniture

and electrical goods for a fraction

of new cost.”

Minister Hannah Blythyn said: “One

of the best ways to reduce waste is to

repair and refurbish items so they can

be reused and some of these projects will

improve facilities to enable this. We’re

also investing in a pilot schools project to

reduce waste and instil good habits from

a young age.”

10 | JANUARY 2019


Non-executive director

of two mutuals banned

by the FCA

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

has banned Angela Burns from acting as

a non-executive director (NED) and fined

her £20,000 for failing to act with integrity

at two mutual societies.

In a statement, the regulator said Ms

Burns served from January 2009 until May

2011 as an NED at two mutual societies,

Marine and General Life Assurance

Society and Teachers Provident Society,

and chaired their investment committees.

It added that she took part in discussions

at both mutuals about Vanguard Asset

Management Limited, a US investment

manager that had just opened UK offices.

She was simultaneously soliciting

work from Vanguard by referring to her

NED positions at the two mutuals while

providing them with what they thought

was impartial advice. But she did not tell

either mutual that she was simultaneously

seeking consultancy work with Vanguard.

Mark Steward, executive director of

enforcement and market oversight of

the FCA, said: “Directors have a duty to

disclose or avoid conflicts of interest so

they can be addressed by the board.

“In this case, Ms Burns placed herself

in a position where her duty as a nonexecutive

director may have conflicted

with concurrent opportunities she was

pursuing. This was neither disclosed nor,

as a consequence, could it be addressed

by the board. This was inappropriate

and inconsistent with the standards of

integrity expected from senior managers.”

The publication of the ban and fine

comes after Ms Burns’ unsuccessful

challenge to the FCA’s ruling. She referred

the regulator’s previous decision notice to

the Upper Tribunal on 21 December 2012,

then applied to the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court denied her

permission to appeal on 27 November.

Tamworth Co-op bags £26,000 of cash for local causes

Tamworth Co-operative Society has given

out £26,000 to local good causes, thanks

to its ‘Cash in the Bag’ scheme which has

raised funds from its five pence plastic

carrier bag charge. Sixteen organisations

have been given grants of between

£300 and £2,500, and the money will be

used for a variety of projects and

services helping a wide cross-section

of the community.

SAOS invites nominations for Next Generation Award

The Scottish Agricultural Organisation

Society (SAOS) is looking for contenders

for its Next Generation Award, for young

people involved in agricultural co-ops

who have shown leadership, vision

and commitment to co-operation.

Nominees must be under 40 and be an

employee, farmer member or director

of a co-operative.

Lincolnshire Co-operative opens Scunthorpe funeral home

Lincolnshire Co-op has invested £500,000

into a new funeral home in Scunthorpe.

The new branch on Oswald Road will

include a private arrangement lounge,

welcoming reception area and chapel of

rest. There will also be a display showing

the handiwork of Lincolnshire Co-op’s

memorial masons, who use state-of-theart

technology for special tributes.

Police Credit Union reaches a lending landmark

The Police Credit Union has hit the milestone

of lending more than £250m to its members.

It serves over 25,000 members covering

England and Wales and includes prison

officers, probation officers and the armed

forces. CEO Paul Norgrove said: “Credit

to our team and their continued efforts in

supporting our members.”

Renovation boosts sales at Heart of England Co-op store

Heart of England Co-operative has

seen sales increase at its food store

in Balsall Common after a £238,000

re-fit. Sales had started to soar by 11%

even before the work was completed.

The largest increases occurred in the

wines and spirits, food to go and frozen

food sections.

JANUARY 2019 | 11


Let credit unions fund community energy

and social housing, says Co-op Party chair

Co-op Party chair Gareth Thomas has

been lobbying ministers for measures

to allow credit unions to finance social

programmes such as community energy

projects and social housing.

In December, the Labour/Co-op MP

asked the government when it would

“bring forward proposals to allow wellfunded

credit unions to provide low-cost

credit cards and low-cost car loans, and to

invest in other social programmes such as

energy co-ops and housing schemes?”

John Glen, economic secretary to the

Treasury, replied: “Following on from

the budget, we have a series of measures

to assist credit unions to expand their

role in delivering affordable credit across

communities. We have a scheme of

work over the next three months to pilot

interest-free loans and prize-linked saving

schemes, to help credit unions to grow as

they have been doing in recent years.”

In a follow-up letter to the minister,

Mr Thomas asked for further information

about government plans to help “the

growing credit union sector to continue

expansion of its services”.

He said British credit unions had seen

“striking” growth over the past 15 years,

trebling its membership to 1.34m people

and almost quadrupling its assets to


“As the sector grows it is becoming even

better equipped to expand the services

it is permitted to offer to members,”

he added, arguing that this expansion

would increase credit unions’ capacity

to promote financial inclusion at a time

when “traditional high street banks are

becoming further removed from local


Mr Thomas said there would be wider

benefits to allowing credit unions with

sufficient surplus assets to support social


“It allows individual credit unions

to diversify their portfolio and increase

returns on investment for members,”

he wrote, “[and] allows communities

to pursue projects that benefit the local

area that they might not otherwise be

able to finance.”

It would also put “a significant

proportion of members’ funds (currently

held in bank accounts and thus accruing

interest rates below the rate of inflation)

to a more productive and economically

rewarding purpose ... addressing a

key social issue that deeply affects the

communities which credit unions serve”.

He said representatives of the

Northern Ireland credit union sector

are already in talks with the Prudential

Regulation Authority on similar issues

and are “currently preparing a business

case for how they could help finance

social housing”.


Power to Change allocates new funding for community businesses

p Halton Mill, home to Green Elephant

Community businesses across the UK can

apply to receive a grant matched to their

earnings of up to £10,000.

The funding is provided through the

Community Business Trade Up Programme

run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs

(SSE) in partnership with Power to Change.

Now in its third year, the programme is

open for applications until 14 February.

Businesses receive a grant of up

to £10,000, a nine-month learning

programme of 12 learning days, and can

access a community of supportive peers.

The learning programme runs from June

2019 to March 2020, providing places for

80 community business leaders across

England who will learn in groups of 10 at

eight different locations across England.

According to SSE, the first cohort of the

Community Business Trade Up Programme

achieved a typical 92% increase in income.

One of the businesses receiving support

through the programme was the Green

Elephant Co-operative at Halton Mill in

Lancaster, which increased trading by

36% after receiving grant funding.

Alastair Wilson, CEO of School for

Social Entrepreneurs, said: “Community

businesses strengthen local economies

and enrich the fabric of society. But

running them can be challenging. We’ll

help community business leaders develop

the skills, strengths and networks they

need to improve their sustainability and

impact, with the support of match trading

grants and a learning approach we’ve

refined over 21 years.”

Jenny Sansom, programmes manager at

Power to Change, said: “This programme

will give a really important step up for

relatively new community businesses

and help them to focus on their trading

activities and long-term sustainability.”

Buzz Lockleaze, a community interest

company in Bristol, also took part in

the programme. The business runs a

community shop, café and garden, offering

volunteering and training opportunities.

Business development manager Roisin

Tobin said: “The match trading grant really

helped us to focus on growing our income

from trading. We knew that if we put the

effort in, we would receive an additional

pound in funding for every pound we

earned. It proved to be the catalyst we

needed to try ideas and move our thinking

from how we would find the next grant to

keep us going, to what income we could

generate ourselves, to be supplemented

by grant. Knowing we’re more selfsufficient

is a great boost.”

12 | JANUARY 2019


Andy Burnham backs credit union ‘Oscars’

p Community First Credit Union picks up its award

The eighth annual ‘credit union Oscars’,

that celebrate the sector’s work around

the world, was held in Manchester in

December, with the support of regional

mayor Andy Burnham.

Mr Burnham, Labour/Co-op mayor

for the devolved Greater Manchester

Combined Authority, sent a message

that was read out at the event by Jeff

Seneviratne, vice chair of Credit Unions

for Greater Manchester.

“I am a huge supporter of the credit

union way of doing business,” said Mr

Burnham. “Credit unions transform

people’s lives because they help them

manage their finances in a way that means

they don’t have to resort to loan sharks

and payday lenders.

“I’m proud to say that Greater

Manchester Combined Authority will be

working with the consortium of credit

unions and other partners across Greater

Manchester over the coming months.

I welcome their co-operative way of


It is the first time the awards, organised

by the International Credit Union

Leadership Development & Education

Foundation (Iculdef), have been held in


The event saw the Joe Biden Award for

Development Educator of the Year go to

development education programmes in

Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Caribbean,

Europe and North America – recognising

their efforts in serving communities in a

spirit of co-operation.

Winners and runners up of the Great

Britain and Ireland Edward Filene Credit

Union Awards for Performance Excellence

were all also celebrated, with Community

First Credit Union from Mexborough in

South Yorkshire scooping the top Award

for Social Entrepreneurship.

Credit Unions for Greater Manchester,

a consortium of eight credit unions,

won the award for ‘Pursuing International

Co-operative Alliance Principle 6

– Co-operation Amongst Co-operatives’

in recognition of the way they joined

forces to serve their communities and

bring the unique credit union difference

to everyone within the Greater Manchester

Combined Authority.

Iculdef trustee, Barry Epstein,

thanked everyone for supporting the

credit union movement and said:

“We are proud and humble to be part

of it – go out and let the world know what

we have to offer.”

The full list of winners can be found at



JANUARY 2019 | 13



DotCoop secures .coop domain for another 10 years

The .coop domain will remain the

exclusive domain name for the

co-operative movement for the next

10 years.

Launched in 2001, the domain is

managed by DotCooperation LLC

(DotCoop), which is jointly owned by

the National Cooperative Business

Association (NCBA CLUSA) and the

International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

Every domain name on the internet is

licensed by the Internet Corporation for

Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

In November, DotCoop, the registry

operator for the .coop domain, renewed its

contract with ICANN for the second time

since the domain’s launch.

Negotiations began in 2016 – and

DotCoop communications officer Tom

Ivey says the process took over two

years due to the changing environment

and regulations within the domain

name industry.

“Since 2012, ICANN has opened up

the market and there are over 1,000

namespaces (TLDs) so the standards for

operating them have changed,” he said.

“We are in the age of the new internet.

In this crowded space online where

everyone has the space they want, we

needed to safeguard this domain we have.

We were one of the first to be added to

the internet after .com. It’s important that

we managed to secure this space for the

co-operative movement.”

ICANN also agreed for the domain

to continue to be available only to bona

fide co-operatives and co-operative


“Most domain names out there have

no such restrictions, they can be used by

everybody. This is fundamental, it means

that if a co-op uses this domain it’s like a

badge, they are verified, they joined this

co-op movement,” added Mr Ivey.

14 | JANUARY 2019


BCCM pushes for the co-op alternative

in the finance and healthcare sectors

The Business Council of Co-operatives

and Mutuals (BCCM) – Australia’s apex

body for co-ops – has welcomed draft

legislation to assist co-ops and mutuals in

the banking and insurance sectors.

Australia’s assistant finance minister

Zed Seselja released the draft legislation

for public consultation. It would create a

capital instrument in the Corporations Act

to enable co-ops, mutuals and memberowned

firms to be more competitive and

access growth capital.

Over the last nine months, the BCCM

has worked with its member businesses,

the Customer Owned Banking Association

(COBA) and Friendly Societies of

Australia (FSA) to positively influence

how the government implements the

recommendations of the independent

Hammond Review of reforms for co-ops,

mutuals and member-owned firms.

“Today we are delighted to see the final

tranche of draft legislation that will help

to deliver on the government’s promise to

our sector. The bipartisan nature of this

process has been very encouraging,” said

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison.

“We are looking forward to seeing the

second part of this work with the treasury,

which will create a new capital instrument

that may be issued by mutuals, enabling

them to grow and better serve Australians,

while protecting their co-operative or

mutual ownership structures.”

In another initiative, Ms Morrison has

contributed to Connecting People with

Progress, a report from the Committee for

the Economic Development of Australia

(CEDA). Her input focuses on the role of

co-operatives and mutuals in health and

human service delivery – and highlights

how co-ops create quality and benefit

workers, service users and the economy.

At a CEDA panel discussion of the report,

Ms Morrison pointed to a co-operative

revival in health and human services,

with consumer-owned and employeeowned

models emerging in sectors such

as primary health, disability housing,

aged care and disability employment.

In the report, she cited numerous

examples of successful co-operatives in

these sectors that offer “quality, stability

and predictability to participants, and

enabling workers – who are co-owners

– to co-design the business together and

share in any surplus from their labour”.

She also looked at the role of platform

co-ops in delivering health and human

services, as they “have lower transaction

p Melina Morrison (Photo: Chris Gleisner)

costs, invest surpluses in community

benefit, protect users and workers

from being exploited and have a higher

commitment to long-term goals”.

She called on the government to support

co-operatives and mutuals, including

reviewing current regulations and cutting

the red tape that makes forming a co-op

unnecessarily arduous.

“How we deliver care and support

services will define our society in years

to come,” she said. “We must counter

this looming challenge with imagination,

innovation and co-operation.”

u Full report at s.coop/2atpq


Basel Committee exempts credit unions from new disclosure rules

p The Basel Committee HQ (Photo: nchenga)

Credit unions and community-based

depository institutions will be exempt

from many aspects of the Basel

Committee’s new disclosure rules issued

on 11 December.

The World Council of Credit Unions

(Woccu), which has spent the year

campaigning for the exemptions,

welcomed the news.

The rules are part of the Basel III

international risk-based capital and

liquidity standard. The committee has

made other disclosure requirements

optional at national level.

Woccu said many other disclosure

requirements would be limited to

institutions that use internal models to

calculate capital levels or are parties to

derivatives transactions, which exempts

most community-based depository

institutions from these paperwork

burdens. National-level regulators will

be able to decide whether to require

depository institutions to issue disclosures

on capital distribution constraints and

on exposures to problem assets under

expected credit loss accounting standards.

“We commend the committee for

establishing proportional reporting

thresholds and increasing national

discretion over disclosures requirements,

which should help reduce the regulatory

burden spillover, that rules for

internationally active banks often have

on community-based institutions like

credit unions,” said Michael Edwards,

Woccu’s senior vice president and

general counsel.

JANUARY 2019 | 15


International co-op movement adopts declaration on decent work

The International Co-operative Alliance

(ICA) has committed to promoting a

decent working environment and zero

tolerance for harassment.

Its members unanimously adopted the

Declaration on Decent Work and Against

Harassment at its General Assembly in

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The document notes that the movement

endorses the International Labour

Organization’s (ILO) Recommendation

193 on the Promotion of Co-operatives

(2002). It adds that the international

co-operative movement supports the

UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda

for 2020, which calls for a world free

of poverty, where people are able to

enjoy decent work and benefit from

“sustained, inclusive and sustainable

economic growth”.

To this end, the ICA commits itself

to “respect, promote and act diligently

to support the fundamental tenets of

decent work”. These include freedom of

association and full recognition of the right

to collective bargaining; the elimination

of all forms of forced or compulsory

labour; an end to child labour; and

the elimination of discrimination in

employment and every form of work.

The declaration defends the basic

principles of dignity and equality in the

new and emerging forms of employment;

prohibits within its sphere of influence all

sexual harassment; and strongly opposes

every other kind of workplace misconduct,

including intimidation, oppression

and discrimination, as well as any

abuse of power.

While pledging “zero tolerance for

violence in the workplace”, the ICA also

calls on all members to abide by the

declaration, which applies to all of its

constituent bodies.

The commitments included in the

declaration align with the co-operative

values and principles stated in the

Statement on the Cooperative Identity, the

document adds.

“We are one of the first international

organisations saying formally and strongly

that a decent working environment is

fundamental in our society and that there

is no room for any form of harassment in

our organisations,” said ICA president

Ariel Guarco.


Price rises

for Fairtrade cocoa

to help build co-ops

Fairtrade International is raising the

Fairtrade Minimum Price for conventional

cocoa from $2,000 (£1,570) to $2,400

(£1,886) per metric tonne at the point of

export (FOB), marking a 20% increase.

For organic cocoa, the Fairtrade price

will be $300 (£235) above the market

price or the Fairtrade Minimum Price,

whichever is higher at the time of

sale. This is a change from the current

minimum fixed price of $2,300 (£1,807)

per metric tonne for Fairtrade certified

organic cocoa.

The additional Fairtrade Premium will

be increased from $200 (£157) to $240

(£188) per metric tonne, the highest fixed

premium of any certification scheme. This

is on top of the selling price, paid directly

to farmer organisations to spend on

projects of their choice.

The premium helps to build strong

and viable co-ops that can respond to

members’ needs and strengthen them

as long-term business partners for

buyers. And the new minimum price will

allow average Fairtrade cocoa growing

households to move above the extreme

poverty line – after a study earlier this year

showed that 58% of Fairtrade certified

cocoa farming households in Côte d’Ivoire

had incomes below this.

The review of the Fairtrade Minimum

Price and Premium is linked to a wider

Fairtrade strategy to work towards a

living income for cocoa farmers. Under

that strategy, Fairtrade International

has also established a Living Income

Reference Price for cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire

and Ghana, providing the first target

price for the industry based on living

income benchmarks and consultation

on farm costs.

The new price structure, agreed by the

Fairtrade Standards Committee, a multistakeholder

body which includes farmer

and trader representatives, will take effect

on 1 October 2019. The decision follows

a lengthy consultation process across

the cocoa supply chain with Fairtrade

farmers, traders, manufacturers and

chocolate brands.

“This is good news for West Africa’s

cocoa growing communities,” said Fortin

Bley, an Ivorian cocoa farmer and chair of

Fairtrade Africa’s West African Network.

“Farmers have been badly squeezed by

low prices ... this will help level the playing

field for a more sustainable future.”

u Is FairTrade fair? Page 46-47

16 | JANUARY 2019


MEPs and credit unions meet to discuss regulatory relief

Regulation was on the agenda at a

recent meeting between the European

Parliament Credit Union Interest

Group and the European Network

of Credit Unions.

MEPs engaged with members of ENCU

on how the Parliament could reduce

unnecessary regulatory burdens on the

sector. They also explored how credit

unions can increase financial inclusion,

provide services to underserved

populations and increase access to

responsible lending products.

Launched in 2014, the interest group is

a caucus for MEPs from all parties, which

works to raise awareness of credit unions

and micro-finance among EU institutions

and stakeholders.

p Representatives from Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), Vereniging Samenwerkende

Kredietunies (VSK), C.A.R. Federation (FEDCAR), Savings House (FULM), and Instinctif Partners

It briefs the European Parliament and

other decision-makers on credit union

developments in EU member states and

around the world.

Co-chair MEP Marian Harkin (Ireland)

said: “We must not overburden small

credit unions so they can continue to

serve underserved and rural areas that are

in need of responsible access to credit.

“Credit unions represent an ideal way

to help ordinary Irish people with their

financial needs and regulations should

not stand in their way.”

Gerry Thompson, vice president of

the Irish Credit Union League (ICLU),

added: “Prudent regulatory reforms

can reduce unnecessary compliance

burdens on credit unions and will help

lead to inclusive economic growth

throughout Europe.”

The network was represented by

delegates from the ILCU, the National

Association of Co-operative Savings and

Credit Unions of Poland, the Estonian

Union of Credit Cooperatives and World

Council of Credit Unions.

It’s time to back the co-op model in the

Common Agricultural Policy, EU told

A call to include measures to support

farm co-ops in the future Common

Agricultural Policy (CAP) was heard by

the European Parliament Committee on

Agriculture and Rural Development at a

recent meeting.

The committee held a public hearing

aimed at tackling the challenges faced

by the dairy sector – and heard how

co-operatives empower farmers.

The event, entitled ‘Models of

co-operation to strengthen farmers’

position in the food chain’ heard

form farmers, agri-co-operatives’

representatives and academics,

who explained that co-ops increase

farmers’ bargaining power and

ability to address markets and future

trade challenges.

Co-operative case studies were

presented at the hearing, with that

of the Mila Co-operative – situated in

the northern Italian alpine region of

South Tirol – demonstrating the value

of co-ops to farmers in remote and

disadvantaged areas.

The case of the Pomograna

Co-operative in South Italy demonstrated

how co-operation tackles the challenges

of agriculture in the region, and the

advantages created by agri-coops to

benefit the overall sector, farmers and


Umberto Di Pasquo, senior policy

advisor at European farmers’ apex

body Copa-Cogeca, said: “Since their

establishment, agri-co-ops’ core mission

has always been to pool farmers’

resources and support them in specific

activities. They may also supply their

members with inputs for agricultural

production, as well as food processing,

transportation, packaging, distribution

and marketing.

“During this public hearing, we heard

about the difficulties, but also the dreams

and ambitions of farmers who, every

day, experience the burdens deriving

from the urban-rural divide. However,

we have undoubtedly continued learning

about how agri-co-operatives, in many

respects, are capable of empowering

farmer members by providing them

with essential services and innovative

tools to thrive in a circular, resilient and

innovative agricultural economy.”

JANUARY 2019 | 17


Mondragon changes rules around the distribution of dividends

p Mondragon’s annual congress

The world’s largest worker co-operative,

the Mondragon Corporation, has adopted

new rules on the distribution of dividends

to members.

From January 2019, the dividend paid to

members by individual co-ops that form

the group will depend on how financially

stable they are, their ability to generate

profit, and their capacity to pay their

debts. The measures were put forward by

the board and approved by members at

the group’s annual congress in November,

in which over 650 members took part.

The meeting’s report was published in

Mondragon’s own publication, TUlankide.

According to the new rules, the co-ops

will be able to distribute dividends only if

they have a rate of return (the net gain or

loss on an investment) above 9%.

Furthermore, co-ops must have a debt

(EBITDA) ratio below 2.5, and a financial

autonomy rate higher than 1. This is

calculated by dividing a co-op’s own

capital to its permanent capital (reserves).

Should these requirements not be met,

Mondragon will be able to stop individual

co-ops distributing dividends. In this

case the distribution of dividends will

be, at most, 50% of a co-op’s net surplus,

compared to the current 70%.

Co-ops meeting the requirements

will be able to allocate 75% of their

net surplus for the distribution

of dividends to members. The payment

of interest for the contributions of the

members to the capital (including the

contribution to join the co-op and the

accumulated dividends) will also be

adjusted to the organisation’s financial

progress and may not exceed 25%. It

currently stands at 50%.

With the new requirements, the group

aims to avoid crises such as the one at

Fagor Electronics, Mondragon’s former

domestic and commercial appliance

manufacturer, which went bust in 2013.

To prevent similar scenarios, the group

has also set a limit of 50% for voluntary

reserves generated in previous years that

can be used in a single year.

“The aim of the approved document is

to strengthen the financial situation of

the co-operatives and the sustainability

of their businesses,” says the report,

published by the group’s magazine.

The Mondragon Corporation includes

261 enterprises, of which 101 are co-ops.

Eroski and its customers donate 6,150 tonnes of food

Spanish retail co-op Eroski donated 5,717

tonnes of food in 2018 as part of its Zero

Waste programme. Another 433 tonnes

were collected from customers and

members, bringing the total donation to

6,150 tonnes of food.

The Zero Waste programme was

designed to end the waste of food products

in date at Eroski shops, by handing it to

charities near their trading areas. Enough

food has been given out to provide meals

to 3,899 families.

On 30 November and 1 December the

co-op joined other supermarkets in a

Big Collection organised by the Spanish

Federation of Food Banks (Fesbal). More

than 1,400 Eroski stores, from convenience

to large format, took part.

“At Eroski we have a firm commitment

to contributing to a fairer, more supportive

society, which is one of our objectives

under our renewed health and

sustainability commitments,” said the coop’s

director of health and sustainability,

Alejandro Martínez Berriochoa. “Once

again, our collaboration with the

food banks was a great opportunity to

materialise Eroski’s commitment and

mission as a consumer co-operative.”

Eroski has been collaborating with

Fesbal, which helped it to develop the

p Collecting food donations at Eroski

Zero Waste programme, for more than

20 years. The campaign was initially

proposed by the food bank of Vizcaya

and supported by Eroski customers. “We

would like to thank Eroski for its longterm

collaboration with the food banks,

which shows a commitment to fighting

food waste, something at the heart of both

organisations,” said Fesbal.

Customers could also pay for €5 food

vouchers at the checkout – funding a

donation equivalent to two packs of

vegetables, two kilos of pasta and four

fish tins. At the end of the campaign all

funding obtained through the vouchers

will given to the food banks to buy the

products they most need.

Mr Berriochoa said Eroski shoppers

could also buy food products on their

own and leave them at collection centres

in stores.

Eroski will make an additional donation

of 7% of the total amount raised through

the campaign.

“As usual, at Eroski we wanted to

further commit ourselves to this cause by

making an additional donation towards

the total amount raised by consumers,”

said Mr Berriochoa.

Eroski is run by the Mondragon

Corporation, the world’s largest federation

of worker co-operatives.

18 | JANUARY 2019


Tax exemptions: MPs grant reprieve for French co-ops ...

The French co-operative movement

secured a big win in parliament as an

amendment proposing the removal of

some tax exemptions for co-ops failed

to pass.

Les Scop, the French Federation of

Worker Co-ops, had warned that the

amendment, which formed part of the

new Finance Bill, threatened the futures

of co-operative societies of collective

interest (SCICs) and co-operative and

participative societies (SCOPs), two of

the most common legal forms for co-ops

in the country. Existing co-operative law

requires SCICs to allocate 57.5% of their

surpluses for non-distributable reserves.

They do not pay corporate taxes for funds

set aside for these indivisible reserves.

Article 11 of the finance law removes

the tax exemptions for the amount

contributed to indivisible reserves.

Following campaigning from Les Scop,

the government removed the amendment

at the second reading of the bill.

The draft Finance Bill passed the first

reading in the French National Assembly

in November and is due to be debated

further during the second reading.

Another amendment introduced

through the bill questioned the financing

of SCOPs (worker co-ops known as

production co-operative societies) through

the provision for investment (PPI).

The PPI is a tool used by SCOPs to set

aside funds for future development.

These can be equal to the dividend paid

to employees. Tax free, the funds can be

used to make investments in the business

within the first four years of its creation.

CG Scop estimates that in 2017 SCOPs

allocated between 40 and 45% of their

surpluses to such investment funds,

a total of €72m.

The federation argued that removing

tax exemptions for co-ops investing in

their business would affect 2,400 SCOPs

and their 50,650 employees.

Following lobbying from Les Scop, the

French senate voted to continue to allow

co-ops to use the provision for investment.


... but Cooperar still has a battle on its

hands to change budget plans

Argentine financial co-ops and mutuals

could lose their tax-exempt status in the

government’s 2019 document.

The budget document includes an

amendment to tax laws that removes the

exemption from paying tax on profits for

co-operatives and mutuals active in

banking and insurance.

The budget, which has been approved

by the Senate and the Chamber of

Deputies, sets a tax rate of 6% for these

co-ops and mutuals. But after protests

from the co-operative sector, the Senate

approved an amendment which lowers

the tax rate to 3%. This law is yet to be

discussed by the Chamber of Deputies.

Ariel Guarco, president of national

co-op body Cooperar, said the initiative

failed to take into account the specificity

of the co-operative model.

Speaking at the Senate in November,

Mr Guarco, who is also president of the

International Co-operative Alliance,

said co-ops were not making profit but

a surplus, reinvesting a large part of this

into the business to improve services.

They also depend on capital from

members, and are unable to use funding

from external investors.

Earlier in September Mr Guarco had

told a meeting of agricultural co-ops: “The

State should treat co-ops as not-for-profit

companies. We have always contributed

and even more so in difficult times, but

our legal nature must be respected. We

can never accept being taxed on earnings.

“We are not marginal enterprises. We

are enterprises that represent 10 million

people and provide services in all sectors.

Co-operatives are not companies with

social responsibility, we are the social

responsibility made enterprise.”

Alejandro Russo, president of the

Argentine confederation of mutual

p Ariel Guarco, president of Cooperar

businesses, also raised concerns over

the impact this legislation could have on

co-ops’ and mutuals’ ability to provide

services to members.

He said in a statement before the Senate

Budget and Finance Committee: “It is

punishing entities with greater wealth,

whose only sin was to strengthen their

assets to provide more security to their

members and respond to eventual claims

or requirements.”

Similar legislation calling for removing

the exemption to pay tax on profit for

co-operatives and mutuals was rejected

by parliament last year.

JANUARY 2019 | 19


Fonterra reports on sustainability efforts

New Zealand dairy co-op Fonterra

has released its second Sustainability

Report, which reveals progress across

its environmental, social and economic

goals, but says more needs to be done.

The co-op recently formed a

sustainability advisory panel, and

says its approach is focused on three

pillars: health and wellbeing through

its products and service; a healthy

environment for farming and society;

and prosperity for its farmers and wider


In 2018 the co-op reached its target for

reformulating its products to nutritional

guidelines. It now has 71% of its everyday

and advanced nutrition products

meeting its the guidelines – endorsed by

the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation –

in line with its target of 75% by 2020.

Fonterra can now electronically trace

92% of its products back to the source of

its milk. So far, 90% of its manufacturing

sites have been certified by an

independent third party to a leading food

safety management system, on target for

100% by 2019.

In 2018 the co-op delivered 1,000 Farm

Environment Plans (FEPs) and piloted a

climate action plan on 100 farms.

Around 53% of its farms have water

meters on significant water intakes (NZ),

a small increase from 51% in 2017. The

co-op wants to increase this to 85%.

Over 97% of its farms are participating

in nutrient management reporting and

benchmarking (NZ), but Fonterra was

hoping to achieve 100% by 2015.

Since 2015, the co-op achieved a 3%

reduction in absolute manufacturing

GHG emissions. It aims for these

emissions to fall by 30% by 2020.

Fonterra also launched Cared for Cows

Standard, to bring an independently

verified certification to the way its

farmers treat their herds every day.

To support local communities,

Fonterra has agreed a target for diversity

and inclusion, introduced a family

violence support initiative and delivered

more than 20m of free portions of dairy

nutrition for New Zealand children.

Female representation in senior

leadership stands at 30%, with a target

of 50% set for 2022. Similarly, ethnic

representation is at 9%, with the

objective of reaching 20% by 2022.

Fonterra’s return on capital stood at

6.3%, down from 8.3% the previous year.

“Sustainability is not a long-term

goal – it is an infinite one. Every year of

work that we report represents a small

step along the way,” said chair John

Monaghan and CEO Miles Hurrell.

Meanwhile, Fonterra has topped a list

of the 40 highest earning co-ops, mutuals

and societies in New Zealand, based on

2017/2018 revenues.

The 40 businesses on the list

generated over $NZ48.bn (£26bn) in

revenues over their respective 2017/18

financial years, equating to 16%

of New Zealand’s GDP.

Grocery distributor and retailer

Foodstuffs New Zealand took second and

third place with their North and South

Island based co-ops; kiwi fruit producer

Zespri was fourth and rural supplier

Farmlands Co-operative came fifth.

New Zealand Alliance Group enters UK market

New Zealand farm co-op Alliance has

partnered with Classic Fine Foods to

distribute its Pure South range across

southern England and the Midlands.

London-based distributor Classic Fine

Foods is expanding its courier network to

enable 48-hour delivery.

Donna Smith, Alliance UK and Europe

sales director, said: “We are delighted to

partner with Classic Fine Foods. They

are a trusted brand to deliver innovative

and artisan products into fine dining


Alliance is one of the world’s largest

lamb producers and also produces beef

and venison. With a turnover of NZ$1.8bn

(£996m), it is owned by 5,000 farmer

members and exports to 65 countries.

Through this partnership, Alliance

will supply lamb and venison to highend

restaurants, hotels, department

stores and gourmet food outlets. The

Pure South range also includes the

co-op’s recently launched Te Mana

lamb, a 21-day aged, premium lamb

that has been bred in the New Zealand

high country as part of a ten-year

programme. The lamb presents naturally

elevated levels of Omega-3 due to an

intramuscular fat.

Pure South’s Te Mana lamb and Silere

Alpine Merino are free-range, grass-fed,

GMO free and raised without antibiotics.

Emma Scott Aiton, sales director at

Classic Fine Foods said: “Classic Fine

Foods has always built its success on

having the right partners, and Alliance

is no exception. We look forward to a

prosperous future working alongside

Alliance and their premium lamb brands.

“Together we are building a

partnership that chefs can rely on for

top quality, specialist knowledge and

flexibility. We have no doubt that we will

have sensational results together.”

20 | JANUARY 2019

Lending fintech bought up for the credit union sector

CUNA Mutual Group – insurance and

technology provider to credit unions –

has acquired Oregon-based Mirador, a

fintech startup operating a digital small

business lending platforms. Mirador’s

digital lending platform enables banks

and credit unions to decide on loans

within 24 hours or less. It works with

financial institutions across the USA.

Co-operation amongst national co-op bodies

p Barcelona’s kiosks could find a new use


Kiosk revival

to bring opportunities

for disabled workers

A co-operative of 25 people with

disabilities will operate 10 disused

newspaper stands in Barcelona under an

initiative by the city council.

The three year pilot scheme aims

to create new business models for the

stands and integrate more people with

disabilities into the workforce. The stands

will open next summer after a six-month

training period for co-op members, who

will decide how to use each stand.

The 25 co-op members have a range of

disabilities, including physical, visual,

hearing and mental health. They will

have a number of different roles within

the co-operative, such as co-op coordinator,

administrative support and

kiosk manager.

The co-op’s members will look after

business plans, business model and

operation of the stands – allowing

them to work in a city where only 25%

of working age people with disabilities

have jobs.

Laia Ortiz, Barcelona’s deputy mayor

for social rights, said the co-operative

will be established as a labour integration

company, so it must have at least 30%

of its workforce at risk of social exclusion.

The city’s health commissioner, Gemma

Tarafa, added: “This initiative will allow

us to have more and better opportunities

for people with disabilities.”

Confecoop, Colombia’s apex body for

co-ops, and Coopermondo – part of

Confcooperative, Italy’s sector body –

have strengthened their co-operation

agreement. This will see them continue

projects which have helped quinoa, coffee,

sugar, fruit and aquaculture workers in

Colombia, as well as victims of conflict,

displaced people and ex-combatants.

Mondragon composes co-operative ‘soundtrack’

Mondragon Corporation, the federation

of worker co-operatives based in the

Basque region of Spain, has created a

‘soundtrack’ to the co-op experience

as part of a collaborative musical and

cultural project. Musician Fernando

Velázquez and lyricist Jon Sarasua were

just two of many collaborators on the

project, which has also had input from

numerous ‘bertsolaris’.

Consolidation boosts number of €100m CUs in Ireland

The number of Irish credit unions with

more than €100m in assets has doubled in

the past five years to 54. The credit unions

make up 57% of the total of €17.6bn of

assets in the sector, said the Central Bank.

The news follows rapid consolidation

which saw the number of credit unions

falling from nearly 400 to 250 since 2013.

Costa Rican co-op honoured for disability work

A co-operative in San José, Costa Rica, has

received a Global Recognition Award from

the United Nations for integrating people

with disabilities in the labour market.

Coopesuperación took home the award in

the Recruitment and Selection category.

The business runs two customer service

centres with 71 employees.

JANUARY 2019 | 21


Meet ... Jane Avery,

vice president of the Central

England Co-operative

Jane Avery serves as vice president of the Central England Co-operative,

having joined the board in 2015. Her day-to-day job is also related to

co-operatives – she works as business development officer at the

Co-operative and Social Enterprise Development Agency. In addition

to her involvement in the co-op sector, she is chair of Leicester Rape

Crisis, a charity providing therapeutic services for women and girls who

have experienced sexual abuse.



I became a member of the board of the Central

England Co-operative in May 2015. I stood for

election and was successful so I am now a board

member. In May this year I became vice president.

My experience with co-ops started when I left

school in 1978 and became an employee of the

former Derby society as management trainee. I

knew absolutely nothing about co-ops and it was

very different to me to work for one, compared to

working as a student at Sainsbury’s. It was just

another shop for me at the time.


At the induction meetings that happened over

a week we were introduced to all the different

departments within the society – food, non

food, bakery, floristry, funerals and the services

offered, HR, property and so on. At the final

session on the Friday afternoon there was a

presentation by a member relations officer. That

person talked about the history of the co-op, the

co-operative having a different sort of structure,

with ownership based on membership and

how we could become members. I was sold on

the story.



In my spare time I volunteer with an organisation

called Leicester Rape Crisis. I am the chair of the

trustees there and we provide services in Leicester

for about 450 women a year who are survivors of

sexual abuse. Some of it is signposting them to

the different services they need, and some of it is

providing therapeutic counselling services. These

are often provided in the NHS, but they tend to be

generic services rather than specialised ones and,

of course, there is a really long waiting list so we

are trying to fill that gap.



Central England Co-op awarded the charity a

community dividend – it used that to refurbish the






22 | JANUARY 2019




news Issue #7288 OCTOBER 2017


building and make it a pleasant environment. A lot

of the values of the organisation, such as help and

care for others, are values that it shares with the

co-op movement. It is a charity though, it isn’t a

co-op and sometimes we have to recognise that

there is a role for charities. Co-ops are commercial

businesses and you wouldn’t want to have a

situation where providing support for victims of

sexual abuse is a commercial activity. There is a

difference but there are also shared values.



Plus ... The Alliance’s

2017 Global Conference...

Co-op development in

Malawi... Celebrating

Social Saturday

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010


In my day job – when I am not at Central England

Co-operative or at Rape Crisis – I am a coowner

of the Co-operative and Social Enterprise

Development Agency. A lot of the support we give

to people who want to set up a business is to

women. It’s less so now, but still is the case that

sometimes women want to set up a business

and want some support but find that it is a bit

intimidating. So we aim to provide training

sessions or advice sessions that are specifically run

by and for women.

This creates a really strong trust base where

women aren’t going to be judged because there is

a perception that to be ‘good’ in business you have

to have male characteristics. It is not necessarily

the case at all, but it is just one way of helping to

break down barriers. So we do support women

into business a lot but our focus is on developing

co-ops and businesses that have profit with

purpose – so some social enterprises as well.

news Issue #7291 JANUARY 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging



Co-op buildings

past, present and






Finding the route

to collective


Plus ... Helping

Looking ahead to 2018

... Working for gender

equality ... Co-housing

for homeless veterans

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010




news Issue #7290 DECEMBER 2017

Connecting, championing, cha lenging



Diversity hailed

at Global ICA


Plus ... How co-ops

help refugees ... A short

history of co-operation

... Why Quakers didn’t

go co-op in business

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010


news Issue #7293 MARCH 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging



MARCH 2018



Are credit unions

ready to embrace

new technology?

Plus ... Helping

Updates from the 6th Ways

Forward conference ...

Financial inclusion... The

Fairtrade Shopper Report ...

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



sed Member Pioneers ...

International credit union

updates .

news Issue #7289 NOVEMBER 2017

Connecting, championing, cha lenging



How much do

co-ops give back

to communities?

Plus ... Helping

tea farmers to unite

... Jeremy Corbyn on

co-ops ... Get set

for Christmas

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010


Issue #7294 APRIL 2018 Connecting, championing, cha lenging



Plus ... 150 years

of East of England ...

and updates from the

Co-op Retail and Abcul


ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010





in action


Issue #7295

MAY 2018


A spotlight on

how co-ops do

it differently

Plus ... Sustainability

reporting ... Co-ops stminster ... and

ty results updates




news Issue #7298 AUGUST 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging




How to help the

movement thrive

Plus ... 150 years of

Radstock ... Using spoken

word to tell the co-op

story ... Lessons from US

worker co-ops

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010






ISSN 0009-9821

9 770009 982010

news Issue #7299 SEPTEMBER 2018

Connecting, championing, cha l



Are co-op values

losing ground as

businesses grow?

Plus ... Meet Tamworth

Co-op’s Julian Coles ...

Updates from OPEN 2018

... Social Business Wales

Conference: a preview

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



news Issue #7292 FEBRUARY 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging




The challenges

facing workers

and co-ops

Plus ... Helping

Meet new global co-op

chief ... Get promoting

Fairtrade ... History of

community business

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



What politicians

are offering and

what co-ops want

Plus... ... A governance guide

... Mixing co-operation

and tech for strength

9 770009 982010

Issue #7295

Plus ... Sustainability

reporting ... Co-ops in

Westminster ... and

society results updates


MAY 2018


A spotlight on

how co-ops do

it differently

JUNE 2018 Connecting, championing, cha lenging

JANUARY 2019 | 23

ISSN 0009-9821






The Women’s Co-operative Guild decided

to wear the white poppy as a peace

demonstration at the 1933 armistice

remembrance service as they felt that the

original meaning of the red poppy – ‘Never

Again’ – was being lost. They also wanted

a symbol that would remember all those

affected by war.

The head of the Guild wrote to the British

Legion to ask them to make both red and

white poppies and she suggested that all

profits from sales of the white poppy go to

the same armed forces charities as those

from the sale of the red poppy (this is

documented in a Daily Herald newspaper

article from 1933).

At the time, the Women’s Co-operative

Guild had a membership of more than

72,000 women many of whom had lost

their sons and husbands in WWI. But

they did not even receive a reply from the

British Legion.

The Guild decided to make their own

white poppies and chose their own causes

and charities to send the money to. The

white poppy is a symbol of peace adopted

by women who felt very strongly that they

wanted an end to all wars and that the

original meaning of the red poppy was

being subtly changed over the years to a

symbol that supports militarism.

The PPU only started to take part in the

distribution of the white poppy in 1936.

The British Legion could have supported

the Women’s Co-operative Guild which

would have changed everything but chose

instead to ignore tens of thousands of

women who were themselves directly

affected by the horrors of war.

Some of the comments around this issue

are ill-informed and are an insult to the

thousands of mothers who lost their sons

in WWI and to the many wives who lost

their husbands.

Betty Samba

via website


It is vexing that our Phone Co-op has

been swallowed into Midcounties which,

in my view, is too big already. How many

years will it be before Midcounties has a

CWS-style disaster?

Mr Hodges





Time to switch accounts to Nationwide

I think!

Christopher Rawlinson

via Facebook

So, what bank will enable us to earn Co-op

Group points?

John Morton,

via Facebook



When my brother died, his widow insisted

we went to the Co-op Funeralcare, because

you can trust them.

They were very nice and already had his

body (quite confusing how). She agreed

to the simplest funeral and it cost £3,000,

which she didn’t have. I asked around and

news Issue #7295 MAY 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging

Have your say

Add your comments to our stories

online at www.thenews.coop, get

in touch via social media, or send

us a letter. If sending a letter, please

include your address and contact

number. Letters may be edited

and no longer than 350 words.

Co-operative News, Holyoake

House, Hanover Street,

Manchester M60 0AS



Co-operative News

news Issue #7288 OCTOBER 2017

Connecting, championing, cha lenging

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010


Plus ... Sustainability

reporting ... Co-ops Westminster ... and

society results updates

MAY 2018


A spotlight on

how co-ops do

it differently




Co-op buildings

past, present and


Plus ... The Alliance’s

2017 Global Conference...

Co-op development in

Malawi... Celebrating

Social Saturday

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010


found the equivalent for £1,700 but she

was too upset to change.

When they asked for the money she

asked me how she was going to pay for it.

She had nothing except widow’s benefit.

My sisters and I ended up paying the

bill to get the Co-op off her back.

So no, the Co-op Funeralcare is not

the peoples friend, it is, in my view, a

manipulative cash cow for the senior


Bob Cannell

via Facebook

JANUARY 2018 Connecting, championing, cha lenging




... W


for home

ISSN 0009-9821

9 770009 982010


Issue #7299


24 | JANUARY 2019


Are co-op values

losing ground as

businesses grow?

Plus ... Meet Tamworth

Co-op’s Julian Coles ...

Updates from OPEN 2

... Social Business

Conference: a pr

ISSN 0009-9821

9 77000

9 770009 982010


news Issue #7290 DECEMBER 2017

Connecting, championing, cha lenging




Diversity hailed

at Global ICA


Plus ... How co-ops

help refugees ... A short

history of co-operation

... Why Quakers didn’t

go co-op in business

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



news Issue #7289 NOVEMBER 2017

Connecting, championing, cha lenging




How much do

co-ops give back

to communities?

Plus ... Helping

tea farmers to unite

... Jeremy Corbyn on

co-ops ... Get set

for Christmas

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



Issue #7299 SEPTEMBER 2018 Connecting, championing, cha lenging


Are co

losing gr


Plus ... Meet Tamwo

Co-op’s Julian Coles ...

Updates from OPEN 2018

... Social Business Wales

Conference: a preview

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010




Issue #7291




Finding the route

to collective


Plus ... Helping

Looking ahead to 2018

orking for gender

ity ... Co-housing

less veterans



news Issue #7293 MARCH 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging

MARCH 2018



Are credit unions

ready to embrace

new technology?

Plus ... Helping

Updates from the 6th Ways

Forward conference ...

Financial inclusion... The

Fairtrade Shopper Report ...

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



sed Member Pioneers ...

International credit union

updates .

news Issue #7294 APRIL 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging

APRIL 2018


Co-op learning:

Principle 5

in action

Plus ... 150 years

of East of England ...

and updates from the

Co-op Retail and Abcul


ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010




ISSN 0009-9

Issue #7292


The challenges

facing workers

and co-ops




news Issue #7298 AUGUST 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging




How to help the

movement thrive

Plus ... 150 years of

Radstock ... Using spoken

word to tell the co-op

story ... Lessons from US

worker co-ops

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



news Issue #7296 JUNE 2018

Connecting, championing, cha lenging

JUNE 2018


How co-ops are

working towards

the Sustainable

Development Goals

Plus ... Q&A with

fiction writer Cadwell

Turnbull ... and looking

ahead to Congress and

Co-operatives Fortnight

ISSN 0009-9821


9 770009 982010



MAY 2018 Connecting, championing, cha lenging

Plus ... He

Meet new g

chief ...



BRUARY 2018 Connecting, champio

Suma Wholefoods launches

new branding that emphasises

its co-operative ethos

A new look has been unveiled by Suma Wholefoods

to freshen up its brand, stress its co-op credentials

and create more consistency across its range.

The worker co-op, based in Elland, East

Yorkshire, brought in London design agency

Pearlfisher to work on its new visual identity after

deciding its packaging was not as slick as that of

its competitors.

“We’ve not looked holistically at our brand

for some time now,” says Suma’s Sheree Hatton.

“We’ve been tweaking it here and there as we’ve

brought out new products, which means it’s

become inconsistent.”

The co-op, which formed in 1977 and now has

around 160 worker-owners and annual revenues

of about £40m, decided to find a new look after

carrying out a brand audit. Consultants from

Pearlfisher visited Suma to speak to its customerfacing

teams, and to old and new staff, to find out

what Suma meant to them and what they thought

of its existing branding.

They also spoke to customers for feedback

on why they shop with Suma and how their

experience could be improved.

“People identified the inconsistency of our

design and packaging,” says Ms Hatton. “They

were not sure what the leaves or petals in our

branding were; there was not as much brand

equity in the logo as we expected.”

In response, Pearlfisher came up with a suite

of shapes which can be used individually but

which also come together to form a logo. The

logo itself features the wording: ‘Co-operative

since 1977’.

“They called it ‘sum of our parts’, which fits in

with the way Suma works,” Ms Hatton explains.

“We work together individually as members and

come together as Suma. It’s not too obscure for

people not looking for a concept, but for people

who are looking for a concept, we can tell them

that story.”

The new look also features a short message

highlighting Suma’s ethos.

It reads: “We are Suma. A co-operative of

ordinary people built on integrity and equality for

more than 40 years. We’re committed to sourcing

the most delicious and sustainable products,

inspiring change for good.”

This refreshes the Suma story for customers,

says Ms Hatton, adding a level of consistency.

“It will be on every product we launch. We will talk

more openly about the provenance of a product,

and we will be more open and strong-minded

about voicing those ethics.”

Although this aspect of the rebranding

emphasises Suma’s worker co-op status, the

team opted not to incorporate the Coop Marque,

created as an internationally recognised logo for

26 | JANUARY 2019

The new design represents the structure of the co-op, with each part coming together to make the entire logo

co-operatives. Ms Hatton said the team wanted to

keep the new look as clear and simple as possible –

and regulations mean Suma already has to include

a lot of food-related information on its packaging.

“Our print material and other supporting

material will include the Coop Marque,” she says,

“But there’s less space on our packaging because

there’s other things that we need to have on there

– and we want to keep it looking clean.”

Suma is keen for the new look to emphasise

its co-op difference as a unique selling point, at

a time when supermarkets, multinationals and

other rivals from the conventional business sector

are developing similar lines, including vegan

and gluten-free ranges. “We’re pushing the co-op

angle to the fore,” she says. “In our brand audit,

not everybody knew we were a co-op, which is a

bit embarrassing.”

Ms Hatton says reaction to the new look has

been “very enthusiastic and positive” among the

co-op’s worker owners, although the lead up to the

launch week (14 Dec) was a very busy one, with

branded T shirts and new business cards being

handed out, and Suma’s website and social media

channels being updated, including the adoption of

a new in-house font, Montserrat.

“As we launch people will see the logo changing

– we will be doing posts around the new change

and the reasons for it. We hope it brings more

colour to our shelves and brings more interest as

it takes our message back into the high streets.

We’ve gone for bringing in more colour, making it

more modern, to stand out.

“We work closely with our suppliers so we’ve

sent them a press release on this - telling them that

they will see us changing.”

Although the launch was in mid-December, the

rollout will be a gradual process because Suma is

keen to keep waste to a bare minimum.

“We’re rolling it out on products as we re-order

them,” Ms Hatton adds. “People received our

new-look price lists in December, and the logo will

be rolled out across our trucks in December and

January. January is when we will start to see it on

products out there.”

JANUARY 2019 | 27

New year,

new co-ops

In March 2018, a report from the Centre for Cities

thinktank highlighted how UK cities in the north

and the Midlands have, since the turn of the

century, been transformed by a period of rapid

regeneration. In that time, population and jobs

growth has far exceeded that of London – as much

as six times faster, in some cases.

When measured by a combination of jobs and

population increase, Manchester saw the fastest

city centre growth in England and Wales in the

period 2002-2015, followed closely by Leeds,

Birmingham and Liverpool. London came 20th.

“This urban renaissance has brought

opportunities for people living across these cities

and their surrounding areas, and it’s vital that it

continues,” says Andrew Carter, chief executive

of Centre for Cities. The focus and conclusion

of the report at the time was on the need for cities

“to take tough decisions on how to sustain the

growth of their commercial centres, while also

providing the homes their residents need”.

But another opportunity for the communities in

these cities is a co-operative one.

During the same period, UK sector body

Co-operatives UK has noticed a significant rise

in the number of co-ops starting up, developing

and growing in communities in Manchester,

Birmingham and Liverpool, which are pioneering

a different way of doing business – one which puts

members at their heart.

This issue, we’re highlighting some of the

co-operative organisations in these areas – and

looking at some newer co-ops working to change

ways of working in other sectors.

28 | JANUARY 2019


Stirchley is a district in the south west

of Birmingham, recently described by the

media as “the most up and coming area in

the city”. It borders boho Kings Heath and

genteel Bournville and, according to those

who live there, has a “relaxed community vibe

and blossoming independent scene”. Part of

the success of this scene is down to the growth

Loaf Bakery

Loaf is a bakery and cookery school in Stirchley,

founded in 2009 and organised as a workers’

co-operative. There are nine members of staff, six

of whom are directors. The co-op aims to promote

real food and healthy living in Birmingham, and

build community through food.

“This means bringing forgotten food skills

and real food back to our kitchens through our

cookery courses, community bakery and popup

events, and helping to restore our local high

street at the same time,” says the co-op. “Any

profit made through these projects is directed

towards furthering Loaf’s social objectives. Loaf

believes everyone has the right to eat real food.”

Any leftovers are distributed to local communities

through the Real Junk Food Project, The Big Issue,

and other charities in Birmingham.

The organisation’s Real Food Manifesto

states that “Real food is food that has a small

environmental impact, is authentic, slow, honest,

traditional, healthy, simple, innovative, and

artisan,” and sets out the co-op's beliefs in the

importance of community, connection, ethics

and change.

Children’s Quarter

Also based in Stirchley is Children’s Quarter.

Founded in 2017, it’s a co-operative of groups which

are committed to creating inclusive opportunities

for children, young people and their families who

are currently socially isolated because of factors

such as disability and mental ill-health. “We want

a society in which including everyone is seen as

the starting point; not as an add-on project,” the

organisation states.

It’s not just formal service providers that can

join the co-op; any group that provides services

to children and young people and are committed

to social inclusion are welcome to join as full

members of the co-op, while individuals who

support its aims are able to join Children’s Quarter

as supporters. Other organisations that support its

aims can join as associates.

of independent co-ops serving different needs

of the local community.

Birmingham Bike Foundry and the

Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative are

both in the area, while Loaf, Glue Collective,

the Old Works, Artisan Essential and Children’s

Quarter have sprung up nearby over the

past decade.

The Old Print Works

Up the road from Stirchley, towards the city

centre, is Badsall Heath, one of Birmingham’s

most deprived areas. It is here that you’ll find

The Old Print Works – a building that is home to

vibrant intercultural community engagement and

sustainable arts practice. Tenants include a cafe,

events spaces, a community garden as well as

studio spaces for ceramicists, carpenters, cabinet

makers, photographers, fashion designers and

arts educators.

In 2016, the building’s tenants wanted to take

over the building to cement the Old Print Works

as a thriving hub for arts engagement, sustainable

living, civic cohesion and job creation. They

applied to Co-operatives UK’s co-op development

project, the Hive, to get support to set up as a

co-operative, including one-to-one advice on the

best structure to pursue.

“Accessing support through the Hive marked

a huge step forward for our newly forming

co-operative,” said Tessa Burwood from

Professional Incredibles, which runs Gaia’s

Garden at the Old Print Works. “By collectivising

through a democratic legal structure, we can

streamline decision-making, really get to grips

with improvements to the Old Print Works and

develop our offer to the neighbourhood.

“It will help us to achieve a real sense of shared

ownership and security for all those who occupy

the space, creating one point of contact, and

strength in numbers. It will also ready us to access

revenue streams specifically geared towards

co-operatives, which will help us to build on this

resilient, agile and talented community.”

Written by

Rebecca Harvey

JANUARY 2019 | 29

Glue Collective

Outside of Stirchley, the Glue Collective is a

group of makers, artists, community workers

and horticulturists who officially became

a co-operative in 2017.

“As a co-operative our objectives for GLUE

are about bringing together a collective

of people seeking to address current and emerging

environmental, social, health and economic

challenges in our local communities,” says

the organisation.

For them, this involves the development

of educational activities, the manufacture

and sale of green products and creating

opportunities for training, volunteering and

employment. One of their current projects is

the Glue Garden, formed when they took over a

wasteland. Now a community garden, it is used

to grow food and run workshops and events

throughout the year. They are also working on

redeveloping an ancient woodland just outside

of Birmingham as a retreat and have set up

an Allotment in a Box scheme helping people

to grow fruit and vegetables all year round in

small spaces.


Home of the Co-operative Group’s head office

and a stone’s throw from Rochdale (often hailed

as the birthplace of modern co-operation,

Manchester has also seen new co-ops emerging,

with people and communities take ownership of

their own solutions to different issues. Two new

– but very differing – examples in this city are

the Friends of Stretford Hall and Projekts MCR.

Friends of Stretford Public Hall

The story of Stretford Public Hall is an inspiring

one: a group of people banding together to buy a

derelict building, and along the way rediscovering

the community it was built to serve 150 years ago.

The hall was originally built as a library for the

local Stretford community in 1878 by John Rylands,

a local philanthropist, aka ‘The Cotton King’ and

Manchester’s first multi-millionaire. After decades

of community use, the hall closed in 2012. Then, in

2015, the Friends of Stretford Public Hall (FOSPH)

was formed to take on the ownership and running

of the building for the benefit of the community.

FOSPH is a charitable community benefit society

that is democratically run by its members on a

one-member one-vote basis.

In 2017, FOSPH launched a community share

offer to raise £250,000 to fund the next phase

of refurbishment, transforming the Victorian

ballroom so it could host a range of cultural and

community events – and generate sufficient

income to run the hall sustainably. The offer raised

over £255,000 from more than 800 members, with

the first £100,000 matched by Power to Change.

Today, the ballroom is used for everything

from yoga and a community choir to a cinema,

weddings and creative classes – while the hall

is also home to affordable workspace studios for

artists and a co-working space in the Lofthouse for

creatives and start-ups.

“What we could see in the hall was the real

opportunities it presented to the community, and

the real strength of feeling,” says Dan Williamson,

a founding member and trustee at FOSPH.

“It was a real opportunity for the community

to take control of a significant asset that would

greatly benefit the future of the community and

give the community a real stake in the area.”

The story of Stretford Public Hall was featured

in the Community Business Fix Podcast in

October 2018. Listen at: soundcloud.com/


30 | JANUARY 2019

JANUARY 2019 | 31

JANUARY 2019 | 31

Projekts MCR

At first glance, wasteland under the Mancunian

Way flyover, on the edge of Manchester city

centre, seems an unusual place for a co-op to set

up shop. But that’s exactly what Projekts MCR

did in 2004, with the aim of developing people

and places through skateboarding and other

skatepark activities.

“We managed to transform disused land under

a flyover into a space that is a hive of community

activity,” says chief executive John Haines.

“We’re here to support and care for people and

welcome people regardless of their background.

We set up as a co-operative because it seemed to

be suitable for a group of people that all had a

shared purpose.”

It’s a not-for-profit Co-operative and Community

Benefit Society that is focused on making

skateboarding accessible to under-represented

groups, particularly people living in areas of

high deprivation, girls and women and people

with disabilities. Over the past 14 years the

organisation has used skateboarding to enrich

the lives of over 20,000 people, mainly children

and young people. The skatepark sees over 18,000

visits a year and Projekts MCR now delivers over

20 coaching sessions a week to schools and youth

related groups in Greater Manchester.

In December, the co-op launched a new

crowdfunding community share offer to expand

the skating area, incorporate a cafe and community

area and add in a spectator viewing platform.


Down the M62 from Manchester lies Liverpool,

a city with a proud co-op heritage of its own,

symbolised by the Liver Buildings, built

to house the member-owned Royal Liver

Assurance Group. Today, a new generation of

small community co-ops is springing up, such

as Kitty’s Laundrette – named after a heroine of

the city’s activist history – and Homebaked.

Kitty’s Laundrette

In 1842, Kitty Wilkinson, an Irish immigrant,

helped establish the UK’s first public washhouse,

in the Everton/Anfield area of Liverpool. Fastforward

to 2016, and the idea of an eco-laundrette

named in her honour started to take shape: a

social enterprise providing affordable washing

and drying facilities to the local community.

Over the next two years, a small team of local

residents managed to secure funding to develop

a detailed business plan, enhance the capacity

and skills of the team and secure the building for

its continued use. In 2018, the team launched a

kickstarter to give the project a final push.

“The money generated through this Kickstarter

will go towards renovating the laundry room into

a welcoming, accessible and versatile community

space,” said the co-op, which managed to raise

£20,382 from 366 backers.

“We feel the laundrette has the potential to

create interactions across groups within our

diverse local community. We want to shape an

engaging program of creative and social activities

with local residents and people from the city region

alike. These could be exhibitions, film screenings,

craft clubs, poetry nights, discursive events, social

history projects and more.

“The laundrette will provide affordable,

environmental and essential services to the

community while being the self sustaining

business which underpins all other activity.”


Kitty’s Laundrette has another co-op neighbour:

Homebaked, which is a community land trust and

co-operative bakery, based opposite Liverpool

Football Club.

The project is co-owned and co-produced by

people who live and work in the area.

“Starting from having saved our iconic

neighbourhood bakery from demolition and

developing it into a thriving community-run

business with a beautiful apartment above, we are

proposing to regenerate our high street ‘brick by

brick and loaf by loaf’, using money that is spent in

the neighbourhood to benefit our communities,”

says the co-op.

“This work is based on the simple belief that we

all deserve to live well. For us that means good

jobs, secure homes, great food and welcoming

spaces to meet, share stories, learn and celebrate.”

In April 2018, the organisation finished the

refurbishment of the apartment above the bakery,

and in November received news that Liverpool

City Council would support the CLT's proposal for

bringing the empty houses next to the bakery back

to life.

32 | JANUARY 2019

JANUARY 2019 | 33

Can FairBnB become a platform

for community-powered tourism?

Written by

Anca Voinea

A group of activists is launching an alternative

platform for person-to-person vacation rentals

called FairBnB.

The new platform plans to compete with Airbnb,

the world’s largest accommodation provider, while

promoting community-powered tourism.

At the moment, FairBnB is owned and run by

a worker co-op with eight members including

coders, researchers and designers. One of them

is Sito Veracruz, a 31-year old with a background

in law and urban planning based in Amsterdam.

He says the project was born out of the belief that

vacation rental is an activity that needs to be

properly regulated.

“The idea came up within an advocacy group,

Fair City, a federation of local neighbourhood

associations, working on social housing and

other issues. One of the working groups was about

vacation rent.”

Looking at concerns over existing platforms

regarding data transparency and regulatory

Sito Veracruz (centre) with four other members

of FairBnB in front of their office in Bologna

compliance, the team decided to set up their own

platform, and settled on the co-op model as best

suited to their ethos.

After working on the platform for the past four

years, the group intends to launch it in May, in

five European cities – Amsterdam, Barcelona,

Bologna, Valencia and Venice.

Mr Veracruz says there are several hundred

hosts signed up to the project. “This is a new

approach and there’s a lot of work to do, but we are

very happy with how it’s going.”

Short-term rentals have been criticised for

their impact on affordable housing stock. In

Amsterdam they are limited to 60 days a year

while in Barcelona they require licensing and no

new licences are being issued to keep the longterm

supply of property available to local people.

In recent years, Airbnb has found itself in

disputes with municipal authorities around the

world over tax requirements, rules enforcement or

the advertising of unlicensed properties.

To avoid such issues, FairBnB says it will verify

that every single host is legally allowed to rent out

his or her space according to local law.

“We’re working with communities and the

municipalities on these issues,” says Mr Veracruz.

“We want people to be part of the business.

We are born as a reaction to what is happening

in rentals; we want our users to know we are

committed to legality, we want to apply regulations

to the platform and we take this into consideration

when accepting a host.”

The FairBnB team has several experts on tourism

data and legislation, he adds. “We’re aware of

restrictions in each city and we’re working with

them – we want to stay up to date with regulations

so we can apply them and help cities regulate in

the proper way.”

The co-op is also committing to opening

data and compliance with local and regional

legislation and pledges to pay taxes at local level.

The platform will have a strict one host, one home

policy to prevent any users from listing multiple

properties – a measure already adopted by Airbnb

in certain cities in response to local rules.

FairBnB is also keen to mitigate some of the

effects of tourism and the associated gentrification

on cities.

“We can be a tool against gentrification if used

properly,” says Mr Veracruz, “but citizens and

governments are the ones who can tackle it.

“Local cities can say they if don’t want rentals

or want to limit them. It’s not in our hands – we

34 | JANUARY 2019

can support these measures but it’s really down to

the government.

“I am an urban planner by background so

I understand the effects of vacation rent in

neighbourhoods; I understand that municipalities

need to set limits, and as a platform we will

encourage cities to set plans and be a part of that

– we are part of an anti-gentrification consortium

in Valencia.”

FairBnB also wants to reinvest 50% of profits

in social projects that counter the negative effects

the industry. Locals will vote to support projects

like food co-ops, playgrounds, green projects or

community cafés.

It also plans to open membership of the co-op

to other stakeholders, such as hosts, guests, local

business owners and neighbours to ensure that

everyone has a say in how it is run.

But both these initiatives are made difficult by

existing co-op law, says Mr Veracruz. “In Italy we

can’t, as a co-op, donate 50% of each commission

to local social cause. You can from a foundation or

limited company, but for co-ops it is very difficult.

I’m annoyed about this.

“In Italy and Spain, the regulation of co-ops is

also difficult. You can’t create a multi-stakeholder

from scratch. We are now a worker co-op – it’s

the easiest structure we could find. We would

like others to come in – hosts, neighbours etc –

but unfortunately that will be tricky. The co-op

sector is big and hyper-bureaucratised. It makes

it hard to proceed as a co-op –it would have been

easier to proceed as a limited company and that

is unacceptable. Ideologically it's important and

crucial for us; we don't regret it but we want to

improve it.”

Differences in national co-op law also mean

that all operations across Europe are registered in

Bologna, Italy, and FairBnB is not registered as a

European Co-operative Society, he adds.

Those interested in the platform can pre-register

their accommodation or project at fairbnb.coop.

Above: The co-op is

committing to opening

data and compliance

with local and regional

legislation and pledges to

pay taxes at local level

JANUARY 2019 | 35

Security for contractors through co-operation

Written by

Susan Press

A new co-operative offering security to those

at the sharp end of short-term contracts and

the expanding gig economy launches a unique

opportunity in 2019.

The Contractor Co-operative promises people

the chance to take control of their working lives in

a safe, convenient and community-led way. It will

also offer members something most contractors

lack: the opportunity

for full employment

status including sick

pay, maternity pay and

specialist accounting,

“ Evidence suggests that the

'gig economy' is here to stay

as it suits engagers who take

people on and workers who

want flexibility of employment”

legal and financial

guidance, along with

access to pension

advice and support.

There is another

key difference from its competitors in the

private sector: it pledges to be the antithesis of

other umbrella organisations through being

fully transparent to contractors and fully tax

compliant with the HMRC, ensuring that all

Fiona Webber

amounts paid to employees are fully taxed

and accounted for. And, as well as promising a

valuable resource of expertise and advice, the

co-op says it will provide a democratic platform for

sharing information and resources collectively in

a wide range of professions.

The past 20 years have seen an astonishing sea

change in the nature of work and in the number

of people without a

traditional employer.

According to the Office

of National Statistics,

the proportion of the

UK workforce that is

self-employed rose 26%

since 2001, while the

actual number of selfemployed

workers has

increased by 45%. So the advent of an idea like the

Contractor Co-operative is long overdue.

The idea for the co-op was conceived by

tax specialists WTT Consulting, which offers

contractors support with HMRC issues and

problems resulting from a raft of legislative

changes in recent years. These changes affect tax

liabilities for the growing number of people who

rely on contract and consultancy work – but who

may not understand the complexity of being fully

compliant with the rules.

In a risky field rife with payroll umbrella bodies

and third party agencies often avoiding tax and

making money out of individual contractors, they

decided the co-operative model would offer the

perfect structure to those who wish to remain a

part of the contractor market but avoid the pitfalls

of going it alone and engaging with companies

which often make money at their expense.

CEO of the Contractor Co-operative, Chris

Mattingly, has a wealth of experience in building

and managing successful businesses over the last

18 years, most recently in the insurance industry.

“Evidence suggests that the gig economy is here

to stay – it suits engagers who take people on, and

workers who want flexibility of employment,”

he says. “Accordingly, in an attempt to meet the

needs of their clients given the lack of quality

provision in the contractor market, the directors

of WTT Consulting began to consider whether they

could develop a safe solution.

“It seemed to us that a worker co-operative is

a perfect structure for those who are at the sharp

end of the working revolution. Where it comes into

play is providing a safe environment for them to

36 | JANUARY 2019

contract with clients so they get a fairer and better

deal than they would do at the moment.”

Currently there are two favoured models,

says Mr Mattingly: you can work through a

personal service company, or through a payroll

umbrella company.

“Traditional payroll umbrellas are in business

to make a profit for their shareholders at the

expense of their employees,” he explains. “While

the Contractor Co-operative seeks to be successful

and profitable, it exists first and foremost for the

benefit of its employees and members.

“The basis of how we have come into being is

to provide the individuals who have previously

worked through a payroll or personal service

company a safer way to contract, working in a

company with other like-minded contractors,

with all the benefits of ownership and community

that go with it.

“The individual will still be in charge of their

own destiny in terms of who they work for. However

the co-op is there to help them by entering into an

environment where they join us as an employee

with a supply framework that enables them to

contract with the Contractor Co-operative.”

Under the initiative, a proportion of each

member-contractor’s income will be retained

every month to meet co-operative purposes and

progress future projects. Each contractor will have

a vote at AGMs and have a say in how the business

is run. They will also have opportunity to stand for

the board.

The co-op already has an office up and running

in the Holborn area of London and a threestrong

management board led by Mr Mattingly,

comprising Fiona Webber, Graham Webber and

Rhys Thomas, which is responsible for day-today

operations. Its shareholder board will meet

as required to decide upon the strategic direction

of the business and pass on instructions to the

management board.

There is also an advisory panel of specialists

including WTT Consultants – and Co-operatives

UK, which offered help in setting up and

governance issues and now counts the co-op

among its members. Not-for-profit pension

provider The People’s Pension is also on board to

help members in need of advice.

At the moment it is still very early days for the

co-operative but Chris Mattingly is confident

about the prospects for the year ahead.

“While the idea was conceived at the end of 2017

it has taken us into the middle of this year to get the

correct structure so we can engage with clients,”

he says. “We are only a handful of members

at the moment so the key factor in 2019 for us is

going to be growth and we expect to be engaging

hundreds of contractors as we work towards 2020,

when we are expecting more legislative changes

from HMRC.

“The long game is that we would appeal to

everyone working in a contract situation. However

at the moment we are more likely to attract those

who are particularly targeted by HMRC and are

looking for new ways to contract.”

He adds: “We would like the whole ethos

of the co-operative to be the sense that it is a safe

community for contractors where everyone can be

a member and have a say rather than working for

a corporate body.

“Most contractors are isolated in their own

personal service company. This is giving them

similar benefits on a larger scale using our

community to share knowledge and information

as well as offering benefits like sick pay, holiday

pay and maternity leave. At the moment we expect

to be attracting people like professional project

managers, business analysts, engineers and IT

programmers but in the longer term it would

hopefully be more over-arching and include

people like teachers and healthcare workers.

“In the future we also expect to be very much

involved with apprenticeships. At the moment we

are too small for that but, as we start to grow, we

are looking to start apprenticeships and encourage

young people moving into the contractor

market so they do not make the mistakes others

have done.”

Chris Mattingly

JANUARY 2019 | 37

The Bristol Bike Project celebrates

years of empowering communities

2018 is a milestone year for the Bristol Bike

Project, a co-op that has helped more than 2,000

people from marginalised communities become

independently mobile and gain new skills.

The initiative took off in 2008 when founding

members James Lucas and Colin Fan started

repairing bikes and taking them to the Bristol

Refugee Rights centre, offering people an

affordable alternative to public transport.

A volunteer at the centre, Mr Lucas had

seen the challenges faced by disadvantaged

and marginalised people when trying to be

independently mobile, and he hit on the idea of

the Bike Project during a cycling tour of Norway.

“The seeds were sown during that four-week

trip,” he said, adding that “it became clear quite

quickly that there would be a group of people that

would really benefit from having a bike.”

After putting up posters asking for unwanted

bikes, they received donations from across

the city. The project soon outgrew its original

premises, a back garden in Montpelier and an old

horse stable on the outskirts of Bristol, and moved

into Hamilton House, a community art and social

space located in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol.

They expanded the workshop space, registered

as a Community Interest Company and set up a

trading arm to fund the charitable work. The co-op

now works with over 60 organisations across

the city, including Bristol Refugee Rights, Bristol

Drugs Project, Second Step, Unseen, and the Big

Issue, who refer people for its Earn a Bike scheme.

Participants in the Earn a Bike programme

take part in a one-to-one workshop with a co-op

mechanic to learn basic bike maintenance and

take away a free bike at the end of it. The scheme

includes a young person’s session and a womenonly

Freedom of Movement workshop.

The Women’s Night brings together around 13

people each week to share knowledge and skills in

a friendly atmosphere.

Freedom of Movement workshop attendee

Amintata Coulibali said: “I felt at home. Even

though I knew nothing about the bikes, they took

time to explain everything.”

The co-op gives out as many as eight bicycles

a week, and helps an average 30 people to repair

their bicycles via its Fix-a-Bike and After School

Bikes sessions.

It also runs maintenance courses for the public.

Each week six people can access the service, an

affordable way to learn bike mechanics skills.

Maintenance packages vary from £35 to £75;

a brake service or gear service is £18 while tyre

fitting costs £6. Mechanics are available for hire

via the Dr Bike service, with sessions priced at

£130 for up to four hours. Bikes are also up for sale

from £120. The funds raised support the co-op’s

community work.

Since March 2017, the co-op has been working

with Life Cycle UK to help 10 of its regular

volunteers gain a nationally recognised bike

mechanics qualification, free of charge.

The co-op has 170 members and over 100

volunteers, some of whom end up taking on

more responsibility or even taking jobs with the

38 | JANUARY 2019

organisation. “Almost everyone working here

now volunteered at some point,” says community

coordinator Krysia Williams. The co-op employs

18 people, most of them working part-time.

Members need to have volunteered at the co-op

more than twice a month for two months to

qualify to join. Financial contributions are not

required but current members need to nominate

prospective members.

In collaboration with Hengrove Family Cycling

Centre, the Bristol Bike Project is working with

seven different schools in some of the most

deprived parts of Bristol, delivering six-week bike

mechanics courses.

They also deliver at least 12 Community Dr Bikes

at events in Bristol every summer free of charge,

carrying out safety checks and keeping peoples’

bikes running smoothly.

Caroline Beatty, a former director of Bristol

Refugee Rights, thinks the project “has it all”.

She adds: “It’s a working community that boosts

skills and confidence, enables people to manage

poverty, blurs the line between helper and helped,

increases physical fitness, and reduces landfill

waste and dependence on fossil fuels.”

Sean, who was referred to Earn-a-Bike by Bristol

Drugs Project in 2010 and has remained involved

as a volunteer ever since, says having a bike and

being involved in the Project has changed his life.

“Finding the Project was such an important

part of my recovery,” he adds. “The bike keeps me

clean. But the best thing about this place is that it

is immediately welcoming. Anyone who has been

an addict will know just how important it is to be

accepted in that way.”

The model has inspired other communities

across the UK as well as in other countries. “We

get messages from people all the time asking how

to do the same; we get co-ops asking for advice

and receive inquiries from people who are running

other types of organisations who have seen what

we are doing,” says Ms Williams.

To mark its tenth anniversary, the co-op

released a video telling the story of some of the

volunteers and members involved in the project.

The short film was first shown on 8 November

as part of a celebratory event showcasing their

work. The event also featured an exhibition and

presentations from partner organisations and

people who benefited from the project.

The co-op plans to expand its projects around

young people and gender equality. For now it

is faced with the hurdle of having to find new

premises. “Our biggest priority is searching for

a new home. We would love to find a new space

where we can grow our projects, each programme

can be expanded,” says Ms Williams.

See the anniversary film and other clips at


Facing page: Members

of the Bristol Bike

Project celebrate their


Above: Team members at

work at the co-op’s HQ

Can you help them find a new home?

Since it formed 10 years ago, the Bristol Bike

Project has been based at Hamilton House, a hub

for community activities run by social enterprise

Coexist. But Coexist has been forced to move, and

the co-op will have to find a new home in 2019.

“We are incredibly sad that we will no longer

be a part of the Coexist family here at Hamilton

House,” said the co-op on its website, “but we have

to see this change as an opportunity to grow the

project and boost our social impact.

“The project has gone from strength to strength,

and we are proud to operate a thriving community

workshop and a busy bike shop. We are determined

to keep serving our local community, but we need

all the help we can get to make sure we find the

best place to do this.”

Bristol Bike Project is looking for suitable spaces

anywhere in Bristol, which must be “accessible,

reasonably central and affordable”, adding it could

be forced to move as early as February and wants a

new site before then to ensure a smooth transition.

Currently its shop and workshop each occupy

approx 750 sq ft (1500 sq ft in total), with approx

900 sq ft externally for bike storage.

The co-op adds: “We are flexible and willing

to be creative with space, for example seeking

separate spaces for the shop and community

workshop) but wouldn’t want to constrain our

social impact or ability to generate revenue with

too small a space.”

Anyone who can help can contact the co-op at


JANUARY 2019 | 39

Innovation, creativity and booming business

– the co-operative way

Written by

Jen Banks

Finding the similarities between the co-op

movement and Doctor Who, helping to give away

hundreds of thousands of pounds and being part

of an international project supporting refugee

children is all in a day’s work for the Creative Coop.

Formed in 2003, this Essex-based creative

agency was officially incorporated as a co-op in

2013. Specialising in branding, design and web

development, the Creative Coop born of a desire

to work within a fairer, more ethical business

model – and strip back the layers of hierarchy

often found in traditional creative agencies.

It’s the same reason creative director Ben Philp

left behind the world of big corporate clients,

struck out on his own and eventually joined the

Creative Coop – finding it a perfect match for

his values and desire to work in a more efficient

and satisfying way.

“Creative Coop works with clients who do

good,” he says. “Primarily, these include social

enterprises, charities, arts, the public sector,

community projects and other co-ops. I’ve also

found people in these organisations are more

enjoyable to work with.

“And having these kinds of clients means I’m

not asked to do things like produce a video putting

a spin on why palm oil ‘isn’t that bad’, as I’ve been

asked to do in the past.”

He adds: “It makes you feel happier in the

work you’re doing. Some agencies try to hide the

fact they work with tobacco companies or animal

testing laboratories. We are proud about what our

clients are trying to achieve and we are passionate

about helping them with creative solutions.”

With four hands-on worker members, and

numerous associates and freelancers, the Creative

Coop is a thriving business that proves ethical

can be profitable too. One thing that frustrated

the team about big agencies was the top-heavy

structure, with multiple layers of project managers

often coming between creatives and clients.

“We feel there’s not always a need to have

heavy project management and we prefer to work

directly with the client,” says Ben. “Depending

on the job, the project manager is often someone

who is working on the project in another capacity.

It’s a more efficient way of working. There are

fewer emails and no middle man.”

He also believes co-ops should be able to

compete on the same scale as private companies

– and that’s exactly what the Creative Coop does.

“We don’t rely on being a co-op, it’s about the

quality of what we produce. But the model can

give us an edge,” he says.

“Usually, we mention we’re a co-op at the start

of a pitch to a prospective client and we give them

40 | JANUARY 2019

some basics about what that means. Either they

understand and get it, or have no idea and ask

questions. Some people aren’t interested at all

– they judge us on the fact that we do good work.”

Save the Children is one of the clients the

Creative Coop has been working with for over a

decade. And it’s something they’re particularly

proud of. “It’s really rewarding to work on,”

says Ben. “We’ve done everything from visual

materials for events to branding, brochures,

online and more.”

Through this work, Ben and his colleagues

have become involved in an international project

– creating a website for the Initiative for Child

Rights in the Global Compacts. The Global

Compacts are two landmark agreements written in

2018 to show how countries from around the world

will aim to work together to support and protect

migrants and refugees.

“It’s about helping children and young people

who are displaced through conflicts and different

problems. They receive five times less education

because they’re refugees. So it’s important work,”

says Ben.

He’s particularly proud of the Creative Coop’s

project for the Shears Foundation. Creating

diagnostic tools is one of the agency’s specialities

and they were able to do this to help the charitable

trust award grants.

“The Shears Foundation was set up in the

North East when Trevor and Lyn Shears sold

their transport company for £20m,” adds Ben.

“Every year, they award £800,000 to local causes.

The application process had previously been by

paper, but we took that online, made an eligibility

checker and designed a usable, accessible site,

which the client really appreciated. It made it

easier for them to give away their money.”

With a solid trading history and reputation

– and a raft of satisfied clients including Big

Lottery, Locality and Social Investment Business,

the Creative Coop has its sights set on growth.

Currently comprising creative director Ben,

technical director Alan Peart, developer John

White and producer Marc De’ath, they are planning

to add a new designer member to the core team.

“We test people out working on a freelance basis

and if that goes well, they become associates and

we use them on a more regular basis,” says Ben

explains. “Then there’s the option for them to

become a member.”

Expanding their co-op client base is another

goal. “We don’t work with as many co-ops as

we’d like and it’s an area we’re keen to expand in.

We exhibited at Co-op Congress for the first time

this year, and joined Cotech,” says Ben.

Cotech is an association for creative technology

co-ops – and Ben and his colleagues are excited

about the new opportunities it presents.

“We can share ideas and experiences and build

connections. As an agency you might need

help from other agencies with different

specialities – and it’s preferable to work with

co-ops with the same values you trust. And we

get to extend our network further and publicise

co-ops as well.”

One co-op they’ve recently worked with

is apex body Co-operatives UK, to create

the branding for Co-op Fortnight 2019. This

involved a workshop that gathered a number

of stakeholders including Co-op News, the

Co-operative College and Rochdale Borough

Housing to look at the Fortnight’s brand identity.

“We went through a number of exercises looking

at brand perception and personality. Some of the

personality comparisons that came up were:

Madonna – edgy and adaptive; Banksy – an

authentic but unknown force, and Doctor Who

– moving with the times and re-inventing itself.”

And which came out as the closest to co-ops?

“Doctor Who,” says Ben, who was subsequently

asked by Co-operatives UK to produce their ‘Proud

to be a Co-op’ poster that was sent out in this

year’s membership packs. It was another project

they relished.

For this, they worked with one of their associates

– an illustrator whose style they knew well – to do

something different. “All the co-op principles are

in the poster. But they’re not in your face,” says

Ben. “It’s something a bit more interesting that

people have to look at closely to see what’s going

on and follow the journey. We wanted to create

something that people feel proud to have on their

wall. And we think we’ve achieved that.”

Clockwise from left:

Creative Coop members;

a poster designed for

Co-operatives UK;

Creative Coop's long

standing client – Save

The Children; the new

Co-op Fortnight branding

which will be rolling out

in preperation for 24 June

JANUARY 2019 | 41

Co-ops can help to secure a future for youth

at risk of exclusion

Written by

Anca Voinea

Co-operators, students, researchers and officials

came together from across Europe at the end of

2018 to discuss the role of co-ops in helping young

people who feel disenfranchised.

The conference was jointly organised by Cecop-

Cicopa Europe – the European confederation of

industrial and service co-operatives – and the

European Youth Forum (YFJ) – the platform of the

national youth councils and international nongovernmental

youth organisations in Europe.

It discussed the benefits of democratic decision

making and looked at how the EU and national

governments can support co-op development.

Keynote speaker Stephanie Beecroft, team

leader for social inclusion at the YFJ, said young

people were the group at greatest risk of poverty

and social exclusion in the EU.

Top: A panel of speakers at the conference; above: Diana Dovgan, secretary general

of Cecop-Cicopa Europe, welcomes delegates to the event

She warned that many of them face “a lack of

full participation in society, a lack of access to their

economic, social and cultural rights. Potentially,

they cannot access their right to education,

employment, social protection”.

She added: “We have seen new forms of work,

non-standard forms of works and age-based

discrimination that makes it even harder for

young people to access social protection. We really

need to see a change in the EU, because building

a society that works behind people is a better

foundation for everyone.”

There was a presentation from Tess Lundgren

and Peter Brannstrom from Swedish co-op

Urkraft, who told how their social enterprise offers

opportunities to people who struggle to find or

keep jobs. The co-op, which has built up contacts

with local social actors, combines theory and

practical experience in its work.

Similarly, Danish worker co-op Hustomrerne

employs 250 workers across the country.

Dating back to 1919, the carpentry business

provides jobs and placements for people from

disadvantaged backgrounds.

In Belgium, Molenbike co-op, set up as a workerfriendly

alternative to delivery giants Deliveroo

and Uber Eats, gives couriers the chance to earn

a fair wage and have a say in how the enterprise

is run. It pays a minimum of three hours at a gross

hourly rate of €22.

Co-operators at the event said the EU needed to

put in place better legal frameworks for co-ops,

and more visibility for the model in its policies.

They also want easier access to capital and better

design of EU funds to tackle social needs.

Amana Ferro, senior policy officer at the

European Anti-Poverty Network, said: “Co-ops

provide a sense of ownership, power, control and

bring back dignity to vulnerable youth.”

Elodie Fazi, team leader on youth unemployment

at the Directorate General on Employment and

Social Inclusion of the European Commission

(DG-EMPL), discussed the EC’s measures to reduce

youth unemployment. She called on civil society

organisations to lobby the member states to fully

implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Sara Fernandez from Ateyavana co-op in Oviedo,

Spain, looked at its work helping young people

with mental health problems find employment by

working with training centres across the area.

And in Italy, social co-op Camelot gives

migrants, refugees and asylum seekers the chance

to learn the language and better integrate.

42 | JANUARY 2019

Delegates also urged policymakers to change

the criteria for public procurement, so that the

emphasis is on quality rather than lowest price, to

protect wages,

Raquel Cortez Herrera, deputy head of the

Unit of Inclusion and Disability at DG-EMPL,

said: “The fight against social exclusion is still

mainly a member state competence. However,

the Commission is very committed to supporting

member states’ efforts in working towards these

objectives. This support comes in two different

forms: policy guidance and financing, through

different funding instruments.”

Nikita Sanaullah, policy officer for social

inclusion at the YFJ, added: “Reaching those most

in need is where we believe co-operatives can

have added value. They can provide young people

with opportunities based on individual interests

and needs. Participating in a co-operative can

help develop young people’s professional skills,

like leadership and entrepreneurship, which

are crucial for their career development. But the

co-op model that is based on democracy and

participation can also help equip young people for

active citizenship in their communities.”

Brando Benifei MEP (Socialists and Democrats,

Italy) urged the co-op movement to do more to

shape the EU’s employment policies. He asked

the sector to support efforts by the European

Parliament on the European Social Fund+, an

initiative to merge the current European Social

Fund with other funds and programmes to

simplify the EU’s tools to fight inequality.

In his closing remarks, Cecop-Cicopa Europe

president Giuseppe Guerini said: “Quite naturally,

co-operatives have a sustainable dimension,

they build capital that will be transferred from

one generation to another. They can also be

an instrument to solve inequality gaps: where

co-operatives are active, inequalities are reduced”.


project tackles youth

loneliness among young

carers in Manchester

Young care leavers gave a drama performance on

how loneliness affects them, in an event hosted by

the Co-operative College and the Co-op Foundation

at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.

Funded through a £25,000 grant from the #iwill

Fund, the project brought together young care

leavers to create a show combining rap, songs and

a desert island monologue.

According to charity Barnados, young people

leaving care are forced to be independent at a

younger age – 16-18 – than their peers. A lack

of family support means they are under greater

pressure to find a job and their own home.

But a recent government report revealed

that 64% of services for care leavers are judged

inadequate or in need of improvement by Ofsted.

Care leavers also identified isolation, loneliness

and a lack of a reliable social network as key issues

in their late teens and early twenties.

The drama show highlighted these issues – and

also helped those taking part to overcome them.

“It gives you more confidence and makes you more

sociable,” said one. “People are there to support

you and help if you’re feeling a bit down.”

Those who took part will now act as mentors on

future programmes, which will help to create a

supportive community for care leavers.

Simon Parkinson, chief executive and principal

of the Co-operative College, said: “We hope their

inspiring performance will empower other young

care leavers to come forward and talk about how

loneliness affects them too.”

Jim Cooke, head of the Manchester-based

Co-op Foundation, added: “Isolation and

loneliness are real issues for many young care

leavers. By funding projects such as the Youth

Co-operative Action Group, the Co-op Foundation

is helping young people to talk openly about

loneliness, often for the first time.

“We’re delighted young people have been able to

use creative arts to tell their own stories, breaking

down the stigma of loneliness and building their

own skills and confidence.”

The Co-op Foundation is a charity set up

and supported by the Co-op Group to help

disadvantaged communities. Earlier this year it

was awarded a £1m grant from the #iwill fund,

which it will match with an additional £1m to fund

a network of projects to inspire young people to

take action to address loneliness.

Care leavers performing at

the Pioneers Museum

JANUARY 2019 | 43

Setting up community businesses:

lessons from USA social enterprises

Below: Maine Potter’s

Market was set up 25

years ago

Aine Graven, social value co-ordinator at mutual

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), has just

returned from a six-week trip to the USA where she

visited social enterprises, including co-ops.

Funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial

Trust, the research aimed to better understand the

social enterprise economy that is developing in the

USA and what co-ops in the UK could learn from

this model.

Aine is writing a report on her visit,

which will be published in partnership with

RBH and the Winston Churchill Memorial

Trust. The report will feed into RBH plans and will

be presented to Greater Manchester partners.

RBH is part of a group of Greater Manchester

housing providers wishing to drive forward the role

social value plays in supporting social outcomes.

This means that companies and organisations

wishing to work with RBH need to show how they

can deliver social value when responding to its

tenders or delivering services for them.

Aine joined RBH in 2018 to lead on the

development of the organisation’s Social Value

Strategy with a focus on maximising the impact

of procurement and employment power for the

benefit of local people and communities. “My

passion for social enterprise comes from a genuine

belief that it can change the world; which is why I

chose to focus my research on this area,” she says.

“I know through my work that there is huge

appetite amongst housing providers in Greater

Manchester to support the social economy to grow

through capacity building and buying social.”

The itinerary was based on the social enterprise

city report, taking her to four cities – Chicago,

Boston, Washington and Nashville.

How are social enterprises in the USA different

from those in the UK? “They are much more

focused on investment,” says Aine, adding that

the USA lacks a social investment market. In the

UK the Public Services Social Values Act requires

people who commission public services to think

about how they can also secure wider social,

economic and environmental benefits.

UK social enterprises also tend to focus on

grant funding. By contrast, in the USA there is no

legislation that requires social goals to be taken

into account. Accelerator programmes teach social

entrepreneurs looking to start a new business to

have strong portfolios and marketing pitches to

attract investment.

“So, in USA there is much more involvement

from the private sector,” she adds.

“Social entrepreneurs there were also interested

in learning how we do things in the UK. Not

everything will be translated here but the focus

there is: get ready for finance.”

“ Everything about this service

is built on customer choice.

People can elect how early to

arrive for their appointments,

how long they stay, where to

sit in the treatment room,

even what they pay.”

One of the social enterprises she visited was

Maine Potters Market, a co-operatively owned

gallery featuring local ceramics. The co-op has

been in existence for 25 years in the historic Old

Port District of Portland, Maine. It is owned and

operated by its members, each of which is a potter

living and working in the state. Members take

turns in running the shop.

44 | JANUARY 2019

“Everywhere I went in Maine there was a co-op,”

says Aine. “I visited art co-ops, small retail co-ops

and organisations promoting fair prices.”


In Nashville, Tennessee, co-operative principles

are put in practice at a community acupuncture

clinic. Founder Alexa Hulsey set up East Nashville

Community Acupuncture to provide more

affordable treatments. While private acupuncture

treatment typically costs $65-$150 (£50-£118)

at her clinic everyone pays between $15 and $35

(£11-£27), and customers decide what to pay for

each treatment, based on what’s affordable for

them. Key to keeping costs low is treating people

in a group setting, which goes back to the roots of

how acupuncture has been practiced in Asia for

thousands of years.

“The biggest thing I took away is that this is a

service built on community; acupuncture just

happens to be the delivery mechanism,” says Aine.

“Alexa describes her understanding of social

enterprise as businesses built on relationships

and community bond, rather than chasing sales.

And, in doing so, the business grows organically

without the need to spend a lot of money on flashy

marketing and PR.”

Customer choice is key to the service, she adds.

“People can elect how early to arrive for their

appointments, how long they stay, where to sit in

the treatment room, even what they pay.

“It’s a stark contrast to the regular health system

where patients aren’t really given any freedom –

there is generally a parent-child relationship

between patient and health services, but this

model breaks this down entirely. It’s a totally

different experience and there is a lot that could

be learnt by other health services in adopting

this method. Giving people choice and control

builds their confidence and supports them to help


Aine thinks the business shows how co-op

values can be translated into the social enterprise

model. The clinic is financially sustainable and

is looking at expanding. No marketing is needed

because the clients promote the business.

Aine also visited Project Return, a Nashville

charity supporting ex-offenders. The agency pays

former inmates to obtain certifications so they can

secure jobs in the city. With more than 60% of

ex-offenders still looking for work a year after their

release, the charity works to help them find jobs.

Recidivism rate for Project Return participants is

below 15% – compared to a national rate of 50%.

The charity is operated without a hierarchy

culture, says Aine. “People who have been at

the bottom of a hierarchical system are now on

an equal footing and this is very important to

the success of the programme. This fits in with

the co-op model and the value of equality. No

appointments are required and people can just

turn up and get support from staff.”

Referring to the initial findings, she says

the entrepreneurs she met put huge value on

networks and organisations like the Social

Enterprise Alliance. During conversations with

East Nashville Community Acupuncture (ENCA)

and Electronic Recycling Solutions, both founders

spoke about the importance of operational

networks during the start-up phase. Contact with

similar organisations enabled them to learn how

to run their operations effectively and benefit from

their journeys.

“The networks will look different over time as

the enterprise evolves,” adds Aine. “Later down

the line Alexa from ENCA found that as she was

starting to scale up, her needs changed and she

was looking to tap into a different circle of learning

and contacts. The network she needed access to

was now focused on strategic growth, scale and

challenge rather than operational issues.”

Left: Alexa Hulsey,

founder of East Nashville

Community Acupuncture

Below: Aine Graven (right)

with Bettir Kirkland from

Project Return

JANUARY 2019 | 45

By Paul Gosling

Michael Jary, retiring

chair of the Fairtrade

Foundation’s Board

of Trustees

Dr Mark Hayes, managing

director of Shared Interest

Traidcraft – one of the pathfinders of Fairtrade

commerce in the UK – is in crisis. After completing

a restructuring exercise the organisation will be

employing just 12 staff, down from the current

67. Twenty two staff have chosen voluntary

redundancy, while 45 have been issued formal

redundancy notices.

In a statement, the company says: “Returning

the business to profit will involve a simpler range

of products. The new Traidcraft will establish core

grocery lines; carry fewer craft lines; encourage

communities to buy co-operatively and in bulk,

saving on packaging and benefiting the planet;

[and] deliver discounts through a membership

model for supporters.”

Elsewhere, though, the Fairtrade movement

is doing well. The latest annual report from

the Fairtrade Foundation – for the year ending

December 2017 – quotes independent data from

Kantar Worldpanel as showing that UK retail sales

of Fairtrade products grew 7% last year. This was

supported by strong commitments from a number

of leading retailers, including the Co-op Group,

which became the first UK retailer to 100% source

Fairtrade roses and commit to using Fairtrade cocoa

in all of its own-brand products, and Waitrose,

which moved to 100% Fairtrade tea. “Overall we

have been able to deliver more of the core benefits

of Fairtrade – minimum prices and premium – back

to farmers,” said retiring chair of the Foundation,

Michael Jary.

The principles of Fairtrade International and in

the UK the Fairtrade Foundation are for a larger

proportion of the retail price of commodities

to be returned to farmers and other producers

in the developing nations. Actions last year in

support of these aims included the Co-op Group

building a new community resource centre in

Kenya to support Fairtrade tea farmers. “The

facility will offer 50,000 people across the Fintea

tea-growing community access to educational,

recreational, cultural, health and lifelong

learning opportunities,” explained the Fairtrade

Foundation’s annual report.

The report summarised various research

studies’ conclusions, which showed the positive

impacts of Fairtrade production. Benefits included

improvements to the lives of small producers

and workers; strengthening of managerial and

organisational structures of producer groups;

and better working conditions in plantations,

with a positive knock-on effect on plantations

run by non-Fairtrade producers. There were

also wide-ranging investments in producers’

and workers’ communities arising from

Fairtrade production.

However, there was also an honest recognition

of negatives. In particular, workers employed by

Fairtrade-certified producers are paid less than

workers employed by non-certified farms.

Whether Fairtrade certification has an overall

positive or negative impact was discussed at

a recent debate at the Katholieke Universiteit

Leuven in Belgium. The case against Fairtrade

was made by development economist Dr Peter

Bowbrick – who has also published under the

name Peter Griffiths. He claims that too little of the

sales revenues of Fairtrade products goes to the

farmers they are supposed to be assisting. “Almost

none goes,” he told Co-op News.

Bowbrick continued: “It is extremely profitable

for the supermarkets and the people selling the

products and 99% of the extra they charge they

keep. It seems to be designed to be incredibly

inefficient. You know if you put money in a

collection box that 80% goes to the farmers. But

studies show [with Fairtrade] that 5% to 11% is sent

to the third world and god knows how much gets

to the farmers.”

In published work, Bowbrick has claimed that

there is little evidence that Fairtrade labelling

benefits the farmers who are involved, while

possibly harming those who are not. He also

argues that the Fairtrade bodies fail to be fully

transparent and that the Fairtrade movement

attempts to impose its political views on farmers.

Dr Mark Hayes – a long time supporter of the

Fairtrade Foundation and a founder and former

managing director of financial co-operative

Shared Interest – debated with Bowbrick in

Belgium. He told Co-op News that he believes

Bowbrick’s argument is “wholly misleading”.

Hayes explained: “He is confusing two things –

donations and purchases of products. Historically

it used to be necessary to pay slightly over the odds

for Fairtrade products. But now they are much the

46 | JANUARY 2019

same price, so there is no premium paid by the

consumer. So it’s nonsense to talk of it in the same

way as a donation.”

However, Hayes readily concedes that

demonstrating the provenance of Fairtrade

products and the distribution of income from their

sales are challenges. Consumers now expect to

obtain reassurance about how the money flows

down to workers in developing nations. “There is

a limit to the extent we can audit the whole thing,”

he admits. “If you only deal with people who can

fully audit their operations then you would be

limiting who can qualify [for accreditation].”

One possibility raised by an audience member

at the debate in Belgium was whether blockchain

technology might in the future assist with the audit

process. Blockchain – a web-based distributable

ledger system that sits behind cryptocurrencies

such as Bitcoin – is increasingly used in the food

sector to show the provenance of ingredients and

in the aid sector to demonstrate where donors’

money is going.

But the Fairtrade Foundation says its

standards and audits already provide comparable

levels of assurance. Susannah Henty, senior

communications manager, explained: “To make

sure producer groups receive 100% of these

payments from traders, independent checks and

audits are carried out by a third party organisation,

FLOCERT ... However, we’re always looking at

technology and what it can offer farmers, and

that’s why we launched Fairtrace last year.”

Henty insists that the Foundation is transparent

in terms of its activities and funding. “The

Fairtrade Foundation is a charity, and our

income comes from charitable donations and

license fees, paid for by businesses so they can

use the Fairtrade MARK on Fairtrade products

sold in the UK,” she explained. “In addition to

promoting the market so producers can increase

their Fairtrade sales, the license fee supports

the Fairtrade standards, the audit process and

the networks and staff that support Fairtrade

workers and producers. The Fairtrade Foundation

publishes its accounts annually which give a full

breakdown of their activities. In the Fairtrade

system, Fairtrade-certified producers benefit from

fairer terms of trade which are outlined in the

Fairtrade Standards.

“Fairtrade co-operatives or producer groups

are paid for their commodities directly by buyers

or traders. For the goods they sell under Fairtrade

terms, they receive at least the Fairtrade minimum

price, or the market commodity price if higher,

and the additional Fairtrade Premium (extra

investment) directly from their buyer. In 2016,

premium alone from UK sales generated £32.3m;

globally more than €150m went back to producers

in the seven major product areas.” She added that

the Foundation’s ‘Monitoring the Impact' reports

provide clear information on how producers

benefit from the Fairtrade system.

In short, the Fairtrade Foundation strongly

refutes the charges made by Dr Bowbrick. Given,

though, that his complaints have been widely

circulated, it is unlikely that we –

or the Fairtrade movement –

have heard the last

of them.

Below: Chocolate and

Love Fairtrade certified


Bottom: Teresa Kurgat,

tea farmer and member of

Sireet OEP co-operative,

Kenya. Credit: Simon


JANUARY 2019 | 47



in print:

What we’ll

be reading

in 2019

With uncertain climates ahead – politically and

environmentally – authors from every continent are

asking what this means for them, their communities

and society at large. From a co-operative perspective,

this includes working together to ensure community

security and alternatives to the mainstream, and

exploring what education, development and

solidarity will look like in the decades to come.

In this context, three of the books we’re most

looking forward to in 2019 focus on food.

In the summer of 2017, Co-op News interviewed

Jon Steinman, author, broadcaster and member

of the Kootenay Co-op, a consumer food co-op in

Nelson, British Colombia, who was kickstarting a

project to look at how local economies are positively

impacted by community food co-ops.

“If we want to have a long-term grocery store that

supplies communities with good food, the most

resilient model is the co-op model,” he said at the

time. In May 2019, this work is coming together

in Grocery Story (New Society Publishers, 2019),

which will challenge readers to “put the power of

food co-ops on your plate and grow your local food


Canadian food co-ops are also the subject of The

Co-op Revolution (Caitlin Press, 2019), in which

author and journalist Jan DeGrass writes about her

journey as a founding member of the Vancouverbased

Collective Resource and Services Workers’ Coop.

In the late 1970s, CRS Co-op became one of the

most successful co-ops in British Colombia, and was

committed to co-operation and worker ownership.

“For some,” she writes, “the co-op movement was

about crushing capitalism; for others it was simply

about buying cheap, wholesome food from people

they trusted and living in communal camaraderie.

No matter the pursuit, co-operation was the answer.”

Case studies exploring the idea of using

conscientious eating, shopping, and selling as tools

for civic activism feature in Maria McGrath’s Food

for Dissent (University of Massachusetts Press,

2019). She charts the growth of the natural foods

movement from its countercultural fringe beginning

to its 21st century ‘food revolution’ ascendance.

Alongside food we’ll be reading about how

the introduction of co-operative societies into

the Irish countryside during the late-19th century

transformed rural society and created an enduring

economic legacy (Civilising Rural Ireland, Patrick

Doyle, Manchester University Press, 2019); how

global trade can be made to serve people not

money (Trading for Good, Christian Felber, Zed

Books, 2019); and the role of co-operative education

(Learning for a co-operative world: Education,

Social Change and the Co-operative College, Ed.

Tom Woodin and Linda Shaw, UCL, 2019) in a book

to be published as part of the Co-operative College’s

centenary celebrations.

48 | JANUARY 2019

The Fall of the Ethical Bank: how a large

group of decision makers believed their own

hype – and got it spectacularly wrong




Conference will meet in Angel Square in

January; Can co-operative deserts bloom?

is the theme of the 2019 Future Co-ops

conference in February; the ICA’s 2019

General Assembly will be in Kigali, Rwanda

in October; and the Co-operative Retail

Conference is in Cheshire in March.

18 Jan: Co-operation for Credit Unions:

CFCFE Members Conference

The conference themes are Collaboration

(what can the sector learn from

experiences in Ireland and Britain, and

what are its priorities?) and Community

Impact (how can it demonstrate its

role in the community, beyond its

core services?).

WHERE: Angel Square, Manchester

INFO: www.cfcfe.eu

1-2 Feb 2019: Future Coops 2019

– Can co-operative deserts bloom?

Future Co-ops 2019 will explore how the

co-operative sector can grow, addressing

the issue of co-operative deserts and

how new co-ops can be helped to bloom.

Future Co-ops will be working with Central

England Co-operative’s Think:Digital

innovation team, using their new insights

and participatory problem solving

techniques in a fun and effective way.

WHERE: Birmingham

INFO: futures.coop/future-coops-2019

13 Feb-9 Mar: Exploring International

Co-operative Development

A unique course run by the

Co-operative College looking at the role

that co-operatives play in the field of

international development. The course

comprises two webinars (Wed 13 and

Wed 27 Feb, 2-4pm, with a day school in

Manchester on Sat 9 Mar).

WHERE: Online / Manchester

INFO: co-op.ac.uk

8-10 Mar: Co-operative Retail Conference

The Co-operative Retail Conference is the

only annual event designed specifically

for co-operative retailers. It attracts

the leaders, managers and directors

of consumer-owned retail co-operatives

from right across the UK.

WHERE: De Vere Cranage Estate, Cheshire

INFO: uk.coop/co-operative-retailconference

21-22 Jun: Co-op Congress 2019

Congress is the co-operative sector’s

annual conference. A day when members

and directors, activists and CEOs from

co-ops large and small came together.

WHERE: Manchester

INFO: uk.coop/congress

24-27 Jun: 7th EMES International

Research Conference on Social Enterprise

The 7th EMES International Research

Conference on Social Enterprise

aims to be one of the world’s central

meeting places for all researchers

that are involved in social enterprise,

social entrepreneurship and social and

solidarity economy research.

WHERE: Sheffield Hallam University

INFO: s.coop/2atdt

11-13 Oct: The Co-operative Party

annual conference.

The annual conference of the co-op

movement’s political party.

WHERE: Glasgow

INFO: party.coop

12-18 Oct: International Co-operative

Alliance General Assembly

WHERE: Kigali, Rwanda

INFO: tbc

26-28 Nov: Co-operative College

Centenary Conference

Organised by the Co-operative

College,the 2019 conference will be

part of the celebrations of the College’s

centenary year.

WHERE: Rochdale

INFO: co-op.ac.uk/our-centenaryconference

50 | JANUARY 2019

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