April 2022 for yumpu

The April edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at small co-ops – from the benefits a hyper-local model can bring in terms of community empowerment, with a look at the UK's Cooperation Town network of food co-ops, to the challenges small co-ops can face in accessing resources and scaling up. We take a look at support mechanisms in place, such as Co-operatives UK's Hive and Community Shares Booster, and at the UK's newest co-operative development agency, Cooperative Islington. Plus we hear from a number of co-op development workers across the UK. There is also a report from the Co-operative Retail Conference and a special news section looking at the co-op response to the invasion of Ukraine, including updates from the country's own co-op sector.

The April edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at small co-ops – from the benefits a hyper-local model can bring in terms of community empowerment, with a look at the UK's Cooperation Town network of food co-ops, to the challenges small co-ops can face in accessing resources and scaling up. We take a look at support mechanisms in place, such as Co-operatives UK's Hive and Community Shares Booster, and at the UK's newest co-operative development agency, Cooperative Islington. Plus we hear from a number of co-op development workers across the UK. There is also a report from the Co-operative Retail Conference and a special news section looking at the co-op response to the invasion of Ukraine, including updates from the country's own co-op sector.


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

APRIL <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … The benefits and<br />

challenges of small-scale<br />

co-operatives ... Report from<br />

the Co-op Retail Conference<br />

... A look back on the life and<br />

work of social re<strong>for</strong>mer<br />

Robert Owen<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />



An ISA <strong>for</strong><br />

the people,<br />

the planet &<br />

your pocket.<br />

The new ISA. Fair on fees.<br />

Big on the issues that count.<br />

Introducing The Big Exchange ISA.<br />

Built to have a positive impact on people<br />

and planet. With honest fees, expertly<br />

managed investments and no jargon.<br />

Whether you have £25 or £20,000, you<br />

can make your money count <strong>for</strong> more.<br />

Search The Big Exchange ISA<br />

Capital at risk.<br />

The value of your fund can go down<br />

as well as up. Tax treatment depends<br />

on an individual’s circumstances and<br />

may be subject to change.<br />


Small is beautiful?<br />




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

(00) 44 161 214 0870<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

editorial@thenews.coop<br />


Rebecca Harvey | rebecca@thenews.coop<br />


Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.coop<br />


Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.coop<br />


Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

alice@thenews.coop<br />

DESIGN<br />

Andy Bellis | andy@thenews.coop<br />


Elaine Dean (chair); David Paterson<br />

(vice-chair); Sofygil Crew; Victoria<br />

Green; Tim Hartley; Phil Hartwell;<br />

Gillian Lonergan; Beverley Perkins;<br />

Shaz Rahman; Lesley Reznicek<br />

Secretary: Richard Bickle<br />

Established in 1871, Co-operative<br />

News is published by Co-operative<br />

Press Ltd, a registered society under<br />

the Co-operative and Community<br />

Benefit Society Act 2014. It is printed<br />

every month by Buxton Press, Palace<br />

Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE.<br />

Membership of Co-operative Press is<br />

open to individual readers as well as<br />

to other co-operatives, corporate bodies<br />

and unincorporated organisations.<br />

The Co-operative News mission<br />

statement is to connect, champion<br />

and challenge the global co-operative<br />

movement, through fair and objective<br />

journalism and open and honest<br />

comment and debate. Co-op News<br />

is, on occasion, supported by co-ops,<br />

but final editorial control remains with<br />

Co-operative News unless specifically<br />

labelled ‘advertorial’. The in<strong>for</strong>mation<br />

and views set out in opinion articles<br />

and letters do not necessarily reflect<br />

the opinion of Co-operative News.<br />

@coopnews<br />

cooperativenews<br />

CBP009222<br />

Small is often beautiful, especially <strong>for</strong> co-operatives looking to maintain<br />

their ethics and commitment to co-op principles. However, often their<br />

size brings with it a unique set of challenges, especially if they start to<br />

look at growing. What support is available to them, and can they scale up<br />

without any compromise?<br />

To explore this, we hear from a number of key actors in co-op<br />

development (p34-38) – many of whom are frustrated at the barriers<br />

to setting up co-ops and at the contraction of co-op development more<br />

widely. We also bring you updates on the Hive and the Community Shares<br />

Booster schemes delivered by Co-operatives UK (p44-45) and share a<br />

pandemic success story: the growth of community pubs and shops, which<br />

had critical roles as community hubs during lockdown, particularly in<br />

rural areas (p39-41).<br />

But co-ops are thriving in cities too: Cooperate Islington (p48-49)<br />

and Cooperation Town (p46-47) are both London-based examples<br />

of communities collaborating to create, support and unite small<br />

enterprises: seeing a need and building a co-op ecosystem to address it.<br />

From the smallest co-ops to the largest... In the UK, March saw the<br />

Co-operative retail Conference (p26-29) return as an in-person event,<br />

bringing together retail societies to discuss the culture change brought<br />

about by Covid-19 and technological advances in retail. But here, too,<br />

the focus was often on smaller, more local impact, with a concern <strong>for</strong><br />

members in the face of financial challenges leading many conversations.<br />

This issue we also have a special section on Ukraine (p5-9). As the<br />

war continues, how are co-operatives in the region supporting tattered<br />

communities? And what has the response been from co-ops around the<br />

world? A week into the conflict, Aroundtheworld.coop spoke with two<br />

co-op developers in Ukraine – Sofia Burtak and Iryna Volovyk.<br />

“[Ordinary people working in co-ops] are staying, to earn money, to feed<br />

their families, to heal their communities, to protect communities and to<br />

share food with people, with refugees and with military soldiers,” they<br />

said. “So we are really heroes, we are not ordinary people any more.”<br />


Co-operative News is printed using vegetable oil-based inks<br />

on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer waste)<br />

with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC certified<br />

sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



An extra news section looking at the co-op<br />

response to the war in Ukraine – inside the<br />

country and around the world (p5-9); young<br />

co-operators talk peace at the Woodcraft<br />

Folk (p13); the community pub model is<br />

preserving local assets (p39-41); historians<br />

look back on Robert Owen (p30-33); report<br />

from the Co-op Retail Conference (p26-29)<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … The benefits and<br />

challenges of small-scale<br />

co-operatives ... Report from<br />

the Co-op Retail Conference<br />

... A look back on the life and<br />

work of social re<strong>for</strong>mer<br />

Robert Owen<br />

£4.20<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />


A special news section with updates<br />

from Ukraine’s co-op sector and the<br />

response from the global movement<br />

[Photo: A man hugs his daughter and<br />

granddaughter after they crossed the<br />

border from Shehyni in Ukraine to<br />

Medyka in Poland. Numerous Ukrainians<br />

are leaving the country fleeing the<br />

conflict. (Credit: Michael Kappeler/dpa)<br />

Read more: p5-9<br />


New tech is going to trans<strong>for</strong>m the retail<br />

landscape, which has also been marked by<br />

a culture change from Covid-19. UK retail<br />

co-ops gather to consider their response.<br />


Reports from a conference marking the<br />

250th anniversary of the birth of Robert<br />

Own, a <strong>for</strong>efather of modern co-operation,<br />

with perspectives on his pioneering work<br />

and lessons <strong>for</strong> today’s movement<br />

34-49 SMALL CO-OPS<br />

Small is often beautiful, especially <strong>for</strong><br />

co-ops looking to stick to their founding<br />

ethos. What challenges do they face – and<br />

can they grow without any compromise?<br />


We speak to a number of key players in<br />

co-op development – Alex Lawrie, Phil<br />

Beardmore, Cath Muller, Clare Alexander,<br />

Oliver Sylvester-Bradley, Tiziana O’Hara<br />

and Glenn Bowen.<br />

39-41 SAVING THE LOCAL<br />

Community pubs are a growing model<br />

of small co-ops, whose local scale suits<br />

their role as community hubs –and saw<br />

them act as lifelines during lockdown<br />

42-43 CASE STUDIES<br />

A look at four small co-ops – Colne Valley<br />

Care, Signalise, Unicorn Grocery and<br />

Victory Gardens<br />


Updates on the Hive and the Community<br />

Shares Booster, two key funding options<br />

delivered by Co-operatives UK<br />


Co-operation Town’s hyper-local model<br />

offers savings on food bills to members –<br />

but also gives them a schooling in<br />

community activism<br />


look at Cooperate Islington, a new cooperative<br />

development agency set up to<br />

develop a fairer and more inclusive coop<br />

based economy in the north London<br />

borough<br />


5-9 Conflict in Ukraine<br />

10-16 UK news<br />

17-23 Global news<br />

24<br />

25<br />

50<br />

Letters, comment<br />

Obituaries<br />

Events<br />

4 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


Co-ops on the frontline:<br />

Updates from Ukraine’s<br />

consumer societies<br />

Co-ops in Ukraine are defying the Russian<br />

invasion by feeding the temporarily<br />

displaced and making food kits and<br />

camouflage <strong>for</strong> the military free of charge<br />

– and at the same time continuing to serve<br />

their communities.<br />

The All-Ukrainian Central Union of<br />

Consumer Societies (COOP Ukraine)<br />

has been posting online updates of cooperative<br />

ef<strong>for</strong>ts, based on reports from<br />

the Visti co-operative newspaper.<br />

“We coordinate enterprises and<br />

organisations, restore chains of interaction<br />

where the war destroyed any processes.<br />

Bomb shelters and the whistling of rockets<br />

have become our routine,” it said.<br />

“Across Ukraine, consumer cooperatives<br />

have stepped up the production<br />

of bread to an emergency regime and are<br />

making sure that there are essential goods<br />

on the shelves of our stores.”<br />

Disruptions mean that some co-ops<br />

have had to find local suppliers, new<br />

<strong>for</strong>mats <strong>for</strong> purchasing goods and raw<br />

materials <strong>for</strong> production.<br />

Consumer co-ops estimate they<br />

have already contributed hundreds of<br />

thousands of hryvnias in donations to the<br />

armed <strong>for</strong>ces – some of it from employees.<br />

They are also allowing their buildings<br />

and shop basements to be used as shelters.<br />

“We’re all here together at different<br />

levels – from the residents of a<br />

particular house, street, village, city and<br />

nationwide,” Coop Ukraine wrote on 7<br />

March. “Certainly, the system of consumer<br />

co-operation of Ukraine feels confident<br />

in this union. Because, probably, this is<br />

one of the few areas where the principle<br />

of unity and mutual assistance is the basis<br />

of the philosophy of its existence. It has<br />

always been so, it is so today.”<br />

The apex added that its producers and<br />

suppliers continue to work well and so far<br />

there was no product interruption.<br />

In the Transcarpathia region, the coop<br />

sector is working closely with local<br />

authorities, volunteers and churches<br />

to host people. Three co-op bakeries<br />

are working at full capacity, says Coop<br />

Ukraine. Likewise, in Ternopil the<br />

regional consumer co-op union provides<br />

goods to commercial establishments<br />

while delivering essential goods in close<br />

collaboration with the local government<br />

– with strict price controls and no<br />

interruption of service.<br />

The region is home to one of the<br />

country’s several co-op colleges – the<br />

Ternopil co-operative trade and economic<br />

college, which has set up a hostel <strong>for</strong><br />

dozens of displaced families.<br />

Those killed in the invasion include<br />

Vasyl Bilak, a graduate of Mukachevo<br />

Cooperative Professional College of<br />

Business, Roman Pavlovych, a graduate<br />

of the Lviv Cooperative Professional<br />

College of Economics and Law, and Vanya<br />

Karnaukh, a second-year student at the<br />

Kharkiv Cooperative College of Trade and<br />

Economics.<br />

Kharkiv, the country’s second largest<br />

city, has seen several apartment blocks<br />

and schools hit by Russian missiles, and<br />

the College’s building collapsed on 10<br />

March. To support each other, College<br />

staff set up a mobile messenger group to<br />

communicate and report on the situation,<br />

helping each other whenever possible.<br />

Similarly, teachers and students of the<br />

Lviv Cooperative Professional College<br />

of Economics and Law are volunteering<br />

while parents host displaced people from<br />

other regions. Staff and students work<br />

seven days a week in shifts to make food<br />

<strong>for</strong> the military and those who have been<br />

displaced due to the war. The products are<br />

delivered by volunteers.<br />

Similar ef<strong>for</strong>ts are being made by the<br />

Zhitomir Cooperative College of Business<br />

and Law, which is also used as a shelter<br />

by 15-20 people. The college also cooks <strong>for</strong><br />

the military and supports an orphanage<br />

with children with special needs.<br />

In the city of Sumy, where heavy<br />

Russian shelling continues, co-op staff<br />

work mostly remotely but come to the<br />

store if needed. The co-ops have set up an<br />

aid collection centre. Some consumer coops<br />

in the region have had to close while<br />

others do not have goods due to logistics.<br />

Similar consumer co-op ef<strong>for</strong>ts to<br />

supply food to consumers, displaced<br />

people and the military are reported<br />

from the Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr regions<br />

and Dnipropetrovsk regions. Supplies are<br />

generally holding up with some shortages<br />

of certain products in different areas.<br />

In Odessa the infrastructure is still<br />

working and there are products in the<br />

shops but the prices on some of them have<br />

increased slightly.<br />

“The system of consumer co-operation<br />

works, helps the government, local<br />

government, the armed <strong>for</strong>ces of Ukraine<br />

and hopes <strong>for</strong> our victory,” a local co-op<br />

told Visti newspaper journalists.<br />

The Vinnytsia regional consumer<br />

union received UAH 150,000 of material<br />

assistance from the co-operative<br />

community of Latvia, which it donated<br />

to the military. The region’s confectionery<br />

shops switched to baking bread, working<br />

in three shifts to meet the demand.<br />

In the Mikolaiv region, a co-op<br />

department store and market shops were<br />

burnt down. The co-ops in the region also<br />

focus on baking and delivering bread.<br />

Similar challenges are faced by co-ops in<br />

the Kirovohrad region. In Novomyrhorod<br />

co-operators are helping to address water<br />

supply issues by accumulating water and<br />

transporting it to catering establishments<br />

across the city. Around 70% of consumer<br />

co-ops continue to operate in some <strong>for</strong>m<br />

or another, says Co-op Ukraine.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 5


‘We are not ordinary people any more’: Agriculture sector faces ‘catastrophe’<br />

On 1 March two co-op developers in<br />

Ukraine shared their experiences in an<br />

interview with Aroundtheworld.coop,<br />

describing a “catastrophic situation” <strong>for</strong><br />

agricultural co-ops in the country.<br />

Sofia Burtak and Iryna Volovyk are<br />

members of Cooperative Academy, which<br />

promotes and develops agri co-ops. Ms<br />

Burtak told interviewer Sarah Vicari: “Our<br />

producers are stuck with the produce and<br />

no channel to actually sell [it on], and no<br />

means actually <strong>for</strong> their life.”<br />

Ms Burtak said some farmers are<br />

under occupation and cannot proceed<br />

with production, and others have had to<br />

flee. She added: “Agriculture production<br />

is very tied to the land and you cannot<br />

put your land in your bag. So that’s why<br />

the co-operative movement is in a very<br />

catastrophic situation right now.”<br />

The Russian army is destroying<br />

“everything, not just economics,” added<br />

Ms Volovyk. “They destroy people’s<br />

values, all over the world. So I would like<br />

to share with co-operatives all over the<br />

world – this is true. I’m here. I live here<br />

with my parents in Dnipro ... it’s true.”<br />

Ms Burtak said Ukrainian farmers need<br />

“ideas and facilities to process production<br />

very locally, at least in the places where<br />

it is safe. For example, if we have local<br />

farmers of dairy production, we need to<br />

process their milk – we cannot transport<br />

it or do any kind of logistics. But we need<br />

to process it right away, to a product which<br />

can be stored <strong>for</strong> longer than milk can …<br />

“And then we will think more globally<br />

at the level of the federation of the cooperative,<br />

how we can market or how we<br />

can supply the food where it is needed.”<br />

Ms Burtak also outlined a need <strong>for</strong><br />

expertise around crisis management as<br />

well as material support and investment<br />

to keep small producers in Ukraine alive.<br />

Ms Volovyk said it is important to share<br />

the stories of ordinary people working<br />

in Ukrainian co-ops, but warned: “After<br />

these six days, they are not ordinary<br />

people. I feel that they are heroes, because<br />

they are staying, to earn money, to feed<br />

their families, to heal their communities,<br />

to protect communities and to share<br />

food with people, with refugees and with<br />

military soldiers. So we are really heroes,<br />

we are not ordinary people any more.”<br />

Global impact<br />

The crisis has put world supply chains<br />

under huge pressure; Ukraine is a leading<br />

exporter of grain, and there has also been<br />

a reduction in fertiliser exports from<br />

Russia and Belarus. Farmers around the<br />

world also face rising energy costs as<br />

the conflict hits oil prices. The situation<br />

is especially urgent <strong>for</strong> poorer countries<br />

which import a lot of wheat from Ukraine,<br />

such as Egypt, Yemen and Lebanon.<br />

Food systems have already been<br />

disrupted by Covid-19, and from poor<br />

weather which has hit harvests in China,<br />

South America and Indonesia. “Ukraine<br />

has only compounded a catastrophe,”<br />

David M Beasley, the executive director<br />

of the UN’s World Food Program, told the<br />

New York Times. “There is no precedent<br />

even close to this since World War II.”<br />

Copa and Cogeca, the apex bodies <strong>for</strong><br />

Europe’s agri co-ops, says the crisis means<br />

the continent “must equip its agriculture<br />

with a food shield”.<br />

“The impulse of solidarity of the<br />

farming community with the Ukrainian<br />

people is real and visible in all member<br />

countries,” said Copa and Cogeca in a<br />

press statement. “Farmers are starting<br />

to welcome refugees to their farms, the<br />

first convoys organised by farmers are on<br />

their way, along with food, supplies and<br />

financial donations.<br />

“‘Copa-Cogeca will publish on its<br />

website more in<strong>for</strong>mation <strong>for</strong> farmers, cooperatives<br />

and any citizen who wants to<br />

support the actions undertaken by the EU<br />

agricultural community.”<br />

The Ukrainian agricultural organisation<br />

UNAF (Ukrainian National Agrarian<br />

Forum) is joining the European farming<br />

community by becoming a Copa and<br />

Cogeca partner, the statement added.<br />

Copa and Cogeca warn that the<br />

European agriculture faces reconstruction<br />

challenges, with global repercussions<br />

from the war set to last <strong>for</strong> several years.<br />

“Most productions will be directly or<br />

indirectly impacted,” it said. “It is there<strong>for</strong>e<br />

essential to have a European response that<br />

equals the humanitarian and economic<br />

disaster. In this regard, Copa and Cogeca<br />

are expecting comprehensive, robust,<br />

out-of-the-box measures by the European<br />

Commission. Some sectors already heavily<br />

affected by the price increases resulting<br />

from the Covid and energy crises must<br />

be supported without delay, while other<br />

farmers need clear policy guidance as<br />

they start sowing.”<br />

Copa and Cogeca add: “Everything<br />

must be done to prevent disruptions in<br />

supply chains, which will inevitably lead<br />

to shortages in certain parts of the world.<br />

This is an essential question of food<br />

sovereignty and democratic stability.”<br />

Tim Bailey, CEO of the Scottish<br />

Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS),<br />

said his members are being “impacted by<br />

the reduced availability of raw materials<br />

and inputs. SAOS is a member of the<br />

Scottish government’s newly <strong>for</strong>med Food<br />

Security Task<strong>for</strong>ce, and our supply chain<br />

expertise and knowledge of identifying<br />

alternatives and building supply chain<br />

resilience, will play an integral role.”<br />

Farmer-owned dairy Arla has donated<br />

€1m (£830,000) to the Red Cross and is<br />

working with humanitarian organisations<br />

to provide food aid to Ukraine.<br />

It is suspending all its exports to Russia,<br />

and halting its operations in the country,<br />

as is New Zealand dairy co-op Fonterra.<br />

6 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


‘A swift and positive co-operative response’: UK sector shows solidarity<br />

p Central England Co-op pulls Russian vodka<br />

UK co-ops have taken a number of actions<br />

in response to the crisis in Ukraine.<br />

After being “inundated with members<br />

wanting to help”, Co-operatives UK,<br />

together with its International Working<br />

Group (IWG), is recommending<br />

donations to be sent to the Disasters<br />

Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine<br />

appeal, launched on 2 March. The DEC<br />

brings together 15 UK humanitarian aid<br />

charities, which Co-operatives UK has<br />

recommended as a reputable coalition<br />

providing on-the-ground support. Funds<br />

will help provide food, water, shelter<br />

and healthcare to refugees and displaced<br />

families.<br />

The IWG includes representatives from<br />

Co-operatives UK, the Co-op College, the<br />

Worker Co-op Council and Co-op News,<br />

as well as ICMIF, CCH and retail co-ops<br />

Midcounties, Central England and the Coop<br />

Group. It was established to support<br />

the co-ordination and delivery of the UK<br />

co-op movement’s international activity.<br />

It has contacted co-op networks in<br />

Poland to determine what help they<br />

may need to support huge numbers of<br />

displaced people from Ukraine. The<br />

IWG has also spoken directly with coop<br />

unions in Ukraine. In response, Illia<br />

Gorokhovskyi, chair of the board of COOP<br />

Ukraine, wrote: “The sense of justice and<br />

the support we feel from co-ops around<br />

the world gives us strength, and right now<br />

it is the greatest help we need.”<br />

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives<br />

UK, said: “We have been heartened by<br />

the show of solidarity from the UK co-op<br />

movement and will provide our support<br />

through the IWG. Communication with<br />

our Ukrainian and Polish counterparts has<br />

been established but as you can imagine<br />

this is patchy and it may be a while be<strong>for</strong>e<br />

we can determine what practical support<br />

they need from us. We will continue to<br />

keep our members updated.”<br />

Midcounties’ chief values officer,<br />

Peter Westall, said: “The large consumer<br />

co-ops, in particular, have been working<br />

closely together under the lead of the IWG,<br />

and Co-operatives UK, to ensure a swift<br />

and positive co-operative response to a<br />

humanitarian disaster.<br />

“Rose Marley and Sarah Alldred [head<br />

of international partnerships at the Cooperative<br />

College] in particular have<br />

facilitated swift co-ordination and cooperation<br />

across the movement.”<br />

Mr Westall added that in line with<br />

other co-ops, Midcounties has messaged<br />

colleagues and members, via email and<br />

its member app, advising how they can<br />

donate – whether in store at till points,<br />

online or via text message. “The text<br />

facility is again the same one that will be<br />

used by ourselves, the Group and others<br />

to ensure clarity and simplicity <strong>for</strong> all coop<br />

members, regardless of the society they<br />

are members of.”<br />

Heart of England Co-op has also taken<br />

steps to support Ukraine. It says it is<br />

working in partnership with Co-operatives<br />

UK and other societies nationally and is<br />

placing collection tins in each of its food<br />

stores and funeral homes.<br />

CEO Ali Kurji said: “As a society, we<br />

have been touched by the tragedy in the<br />

Ukraine and have decided to support<br />

wherever we can, through collections in<br />

every one of our stores and funeral homes.<br />

“We invite our members and<br />

customers to donate anything they can<br />

to help support the refugees and citizens<br />

of Ukraine.”<br />

Meanwhile, Lincolnshire Co-op is also<br />

supporting a collection by the Polish<br />

School in Lincoln by setting up donation<br />

points at all its pharmacies. The collection<br />

is gathering essential items including<br />

toiletries, nappies, sleeping bags and<br />

blankets and first aid supplies, which will<br />

be transported to Poland and distributed<br />

by Fundacja Ermed, a charity working<br />

on the ground to support Ukrainians.<br />

Lincolnshire has published a full list of<br />

items currently needed on its website.<br />

Worker-owned John Lewis Partnership<br />

has announced a £100,000 donation to<br />

the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal<br />

and will match public donations up to an<br />

additional £150,000. The partnership’s<br />

chair Sharon White said: “My thoughts are<br />

with the people of Ukraine and everyone<br />

affected by this terrible war. We all share a<br />

common humanity and all conflicts – near<br />

and far – strike at the heart of our values.”<br />

In addition to fundraising ef<strong>for</strong>ts, a<br />

number of retail co-ops across the UK have<br />

removed certain Russian products from<br />

their shelves, including the Co-op Group,<br />

Scotmid, Lincolnshire, Midcounties,<br />

Central England and Southern Co-op.<br />

Central England Co-op has left the<br />

shelves empty, with a statement reading:<br />

“We stand with all Ukrainians and<br />

Russians calling <strong>for</strong> peace”.<br />

Southern Co-op told Co-op News: “We<br />

are joining with others in doing what<br />

we can to support those caught up in<br />

this terrible conflict including making a<br />

donation of £10,000 to the DEC’s appeal.<br />

We will also be making it possible <strong>for</strong> our<br />

customers to add to this by making their<br />

own donations via our till points.”<br />

Similarly, NFU Mutual has announced a<br />

£150,000 donation to the DEC through the<br />

NFU Mutual Charitable Trust.<br />

Jim McLaren MBE, chair of the NFU<br />

Mutual Charitable Trust, said: “Right<br />

across the UK we are seeing extraordinary<br />

ef<strong>for</strong>ts by farmers, rural communities and<br />

the farming unions to support and show<br />

solidarity with the people of Ukraine.<br />

“This devastating crisis has touched<br />

everyone and people are desperate to<br />

help. Some will have worked alongside<br />

Ukrainian colleagues on British farms and<br />

are deeply concerned <strong>for</strong> their Ukrainian<br />

friends and their families, others will<br />

be watching the terrible events unfold<br />

at home and want to do all they can to<br />

support the victims of the crisis.<br />

“Many NFU Mutual staff and agents are<br />

already supporting the people of Ukraine<br />

through their own ef<strong>for</strong>ts with a range<br />

of activities, from setting up donation<br />

stations to fundraising in the communities<br />

they serve.”<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 7


How has the international co-operative community responded?<br />

The International Cooperative Alliance<br />

condemned the use of military <strong>for</strong>ce<br />

against civilians and called on the<br />

international community to bring peace<br />

and advocate <strong>for</strong> diplomatic solutions to<br />

the war in Ukraine.<br />

In a statement published on 14 March,<br />

the ICA said it was working to connect<br />

co-operatives around the world that can<br />

offer aid. “We would like to encourage<br />

others to join with us in this vital ef<strong>for</strong>t to<br />

mitigate the hardships being inflicted on<br />

the Ukrainian people,” read the statement<br />

signed by ICA president Ariel Guarco.<br />

“Advocating <strong>for</strong> the immediate<br />

cessation of violence in Ukraine, we<br />

continue to call on governments,<br />

international organisations, and civil<br />

society organisations in general to build<br />

a positive global agenda <strong>for</strong> peace based<br />

on co-operation. Imposition by <strong>for</strong>ce will<br />

never be the way.<br />

“In the spirit of the ICA Declaration<br />

on Positive Peace through Cooperatives,<br />

we reaffirm that conflicts arise from<br />

unmet human needs and aspirations.<br />

The ultimate goal <strong>for</strong> co-operatives is the<br />

satisfaction of basic human needs and<br />

aspirations.”<br />

Meanwhile, retailer Coop Estonia<br />

and its subsidiary bank Coop Pank have<br />

donated €1m to Red Cross Estonia to<br />

support humanitarian ef<strong>for</strong>ts in Ukraine.<br />

The retailer has also suspended its<br />

collaboration with Russian and Belarusian<br />

producers and stopped working with<br />

Russian TV channels. It says it will soon<br />

introduce Ukrainian products to its stores<br />

and e-shop. Coop Pank is allowing its<br />

clients to make free payments to Ukrainian<br />

banks while Ukrainian residents can open<br />

bank accounts free of charge.<br />

Co-op retailers in northern Europe have<br />

also responded. S Group, a customerowned<br />

Finnish network of retail and<br />

service co-ops, has removed 50 items of<br />

Russian origin.<br />

Around 150 products of Russian origin<br />

will also be removed from its Sokos and<br />

Emotion department stores, including<br />

cosmetics and jackets.<br />

It is also pulling Russian products from<br />

its restaurants, and will stop showing<br />

Russian television channels in its Sokos<br />

hotel chain, while its wholesale company<br />

Meira Nova is removing products of<br />

Russian origin from its range – including<br />

an entire selection of Russian foods and<br />

cosmetics. These policies also apply to<br />

Belarusian products.<br />

S Group has also decided to close all<br />

business operations in Russia – 16 Prisma<br />

supermarkets and three Sokos Hotels and<br />

has approximately 1,000 employees in<br />

St Petersburg. “The exit process will be<br />

done with due consideration to S Group<br />

employees and Russian law. The exact<br />

schedule is being evaluated,” it said.<br />

The co-op is also supporting the Finnish<br />

Red Cross, giving €100,000 (£83,500) from<br />

its Disaster Relief Fund to support victims<br />

of the conflict in Ukraine.<br />

The co-op added that it does not make<br />

direct crude oil purchases from Russia.<br />

Coop Denmark, the second-biggest<br />

retailer of consumer goods in Denmark,<br />

is supporting the disaster relief fund<br />

launched by Red Cross Denmark, and<br />

is also sending five trucks with warm<br />

blankets, canned food, diapers and<br />

other items to Ukraine via Poland. It also<br />

announced its intention to provide work<br />

<strong>for</strong> refugees arriving from Ukraine.<br />

Coop Norway, which has been a main<br />

partner with the Red Cross <strong>for</strong> several<br />

years, has donated 10 million NOK<br />

(£870,000) to the Red Cross to provide<br />

health care, food, water, and warm<br />

clothes. “This donation comes in addition<br />

to the donations we give as a partner each<br />

year,” said head of communications Silje<br />

Verlo Alisøy.<br />

From 3 March customers have been able<br />

to donate money in stores to support the<br />

Red Cross’ relief work in Ukraine.<br />

Coop Norway has also stopped all<br />

imports of Russian products but will<br />

continue to sell a few products that are<br />

already on shelves to avoid waste.<br />

The retailer was the main sponsor of<br />

the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo on<br />

5-6 March, and showed its support <strong>for</strong><br />

Ukraine by changing its logo to Ukraine’s<br />

flag colours. This was displayed on the<br />

equipment of all competitors and on<br />

marketing materials displayed around the<br />

stadium or given as handouts.<br />

Samkaup in Iceland, one of the<br />

largest retailers in the country, is using<br />

its membership network to support<br />

donations to Red Cross Iceland via its app.<br />

Meanwhile, apex body Co-operatives<br />

Sweden issued a statement saying its<br />

member co-ops “stand by Ukraine and<br />

its population. We send our thoughts and<br />

support to the people of Ukraine, whose<br />

entire existence is being destroyed be<strong>for</strong>e<br />

their eyes.<br />

“The Swedish co-operative movement<br />

condemns Russia’s unprovoked and<br />

illegitimate invasion of Ukraine. We<br />

demand that Russia’s large-scale attacks<br />

cease with immediate effect.”<br />

Citing co-op values of democracy,<br />

8 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

social responsibility, autonomy and<br />

independence and co-operation among<br />

co-operatives, the apex said it “supports<br />

our co-operative colleagues in Ukraine,<br />

and we are in contact with Cooperatives<br />

Europe about the opportunities <strong>for</strong><br />

providing direct support and aid.”<br />

Swedish co-ops have made contributions<br />

to Save the Children, UNHCR and UNICEF.<br />

Furthermore, Coop Sweden members are<br />

able to donate points, which are converted<br />

into money <strong>for</strong> UNICEF.<br />

In the USA the National Co+op<br />

Grocers (NCG), an organisation of 148<br />

food co-ops, has partnered with the<br />

Cooperative Development Foundation<br />

(CDF) and national apex NCBA CLUSA<br />

to launch a fundraising drive <strong>for</strong> Ukraine.<br />

The campaign had by 23 March raised<br />

US$123,257.<br />

NCBA CLUSA is coordinating with<br />

the Worldwide Foundation <strong>for</strong> Credit<br />

Unions (WFCU) to send donations to<br />

Podolsk Regional Development Agency<br />

(PARD), a Ukrainian non-governmental<br />

organisation providing aid to internally<br />

displaced Ukrainians.<br />

On 15 March the WFCU announced<br />

that the first $50,000 from its appeal will<br />

be distributed to PARD. The funding will<br />

be used to deliver food, water, medicine,<br />

bedding and other supplies to those<br />

seeking refuge in the Vinnytsia region of<br />

western Ukraine.<br />

On 1 March, Cooperatives Europe<br />

president, Susanne Westhausen, made a<br />

call <strong>for</strong> peace and diplomatic solutions to<br />

the crisis. “As the pan-European association<br />

of co-op, with members not only in<br />

Ukraine but also Russia, Cooperatives<br />

Europe is convinced that this collaboration<br />

surmounts political or cultural barriers,<br />

enhancing prosperity and strengthening<br />

security,” she said. “But our co-operation<br />

relies on a stable international community,<br />

based on rules and principles that should<br />

not be undermined.”<br />

The Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative<br />

Union (JCCU) also released a<br />

statement on 1 March. Its CEO Hiroyuki<br />

Shimada said: “As citizens of Japan, the<br />

only nation hit by atomic bombs, we<br />

cannot condone the fact that Russian<br />

president Vladimir Putin has suggested<br />

the use of nuclear weapons ... We reaffirm<br />

the preciousness and importance of our<br />

daily life and hope that the citizens of<br />

Ukraine and also the people of Russia who<br />

do not necessarily support this military<br />

invasion will get back their daily life as<br />

soon as possible.”<br />

On 23 March the Japan Co-operative<br />

Alliance (JCA) issued a statement<br />

condemning the invasion and expressing<br />

solidarity and support <strong>for</strong> Ukrainian coops.<br />

JCA also pledged to work with cooperatives<br />

in Japan and around the world<br />

to provide as much support as possible.”<br />

Members of the International<br />

Cooperative and Mutual Insurance<br />

Federation (ICMIF) have shown support<br />

in different ways. Finland’s LähiTapiola<br />

has donated €300,000 to the Finnish<br />

Red Cross and Unicef, and Denmark’s LB<br />

Forsikring has expanded its contents<br />

and liability coverage to include<br />

displaced Ukrainians who move in with<br />

one its policyholders. Germany’s R+V<br />

Versicherung provides non-contributory<br />

insurance cover to refugees and volunteers<br />

working with them. The insurer has also<br />

donated more than €800,000.<br />

On 1 March, ICMIF made a statement<br />

on Twitter, saying: “We stand in solidarity<br />

with the people of Ukraine. Key mutual and<br />

co-operative values include democracy,<br />

equality, equity, and solidarity, as well as<br />

social responsibility and caring <strong>for</strong> others.<br />

These values are fundamentally violated<br />

by war. #Peace<strong>for</strong>Ukraine.”<br />

MyCoolClass waives fees <strong>for</strong> Ukrainian teachers<br />

My Cool Class, a UK-based international<br />

teacher-owned plat<strong>for</strong>m co-op, has<br />

waived its fees <strong>for</strong> Ukrainian teachers and<br />

simplified its application process.<br />

Set up in 2021, MyCoolClass says it<br />

wants to offer a virtual home <strong>for</strong> teachers<br />

who have left Ukraine, allowing them<br />

to run their teaching business and give<br />

classes to children, including those that<br />

have been displaced.<br />

Five Ukrainian teachers – two<br />

still in Ukraine – have already joined<br />

MyCoolClass, which enables teachers to<br />

offer lessons in any language, subject,<br />

skills or topic. The teachers can also set<br />

their own schedule and prices as well as<br />

offer free lessons to Ukrainian children.<br />

The co-op is registered in the UK but has<br />

members from all over the world. To join,<br />

teachers have to pay a fee of £5-£25. While<br />

this fee is waived <strong>for</strong> refugees, they will<br />

still be given a £1 voting share at the end<br />

of their probationary period.<br />

Teachers, tutors, crisis counsellors and<br />

psychotherapists who want to volunteer<br />

can register and use the MyCoolClass<br />

plat<strong>for</strong>m <strong>for</strong> free.<br />

All paid classes on the MyCoolClass<br />

plat<strong>for</strong>m have a contribution of 19%,<br />

which goes to the co-operative. This charge<br />

will not apply to free lessons or courses <strong>for</strong><br />

children or volunteer counselling.<br />

MyCoolClass was set up in June 2021<br />

by John Hayes, a Cali<strong>for</strong>nian ESL teacher<br />

who lives in Warsaw, Poland. His country<br />

of residence has to date welcomed over 1.4<br />

million displaced Ukrainians.<br />

“My girlfriend and I will start hosting<br />

refugees in our extra bedroom soon. We<br />

hope to get some Ukrainian speaking<br />

volunteers so MyCoolClass can launch<br />

a separate programme providing free<br />

lessons to displaced children but that<br />

will take some time as everything is still<br />

chaotic,” he said.<br />

The co-op plans to organise free group<br />

lessons <strong>for</strong> children from Ukraine and is<br />

looking <strong>for</strong> volunteers who speak both<br />

English and Ukrainian. The co-op deals<br />

with all admin work and bookkeeping so<br />

teachers can focus on doing their job.<br />

MyCoolClass has launched a dedicated<br />

page <strong>for</strong> Ukrainian teachers. The co-op<br />

currently has a total of 282 active teachers.<br />

The co-op is accepting donations to<br />

cover some of the cost of waiving the fees.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 9

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

Steve Murrells to step<br />

down as CEO of the<br />

Co-op Group<br />

Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells is to step<br />

down following this year’s AGM in May.<br />

The board has appointed Shirine<br />

Khoury-Haq, group CFO and CEO of Co-op<br />

Life Services, as its interim group CEO.<br />

Mr Murrells said: “It is important to<br />

put a clear CEO succession plan in place.<br />

This is especially the case as we begin the<br />

process to appoint a new chairman. In such<br />

circumstances I would either have needed<br />

to commit <strong>for</strong> another five years or step<br />

down now to allow a new CEO to become<br />

established and allow a smooth transition,<br />

ahead of a new chairman arriving. I have<br />

there<strong>for</strong>e chosen to take that step now.<br />

“I have had 10 wonderful years at the<br />

Co-op and am very proud of all that we<br />

have achieved and how we’ve shown that<br />

a purpose-led organisation ... can make<br />

such a difference. Thanks to our amazing<br />

colleagues, we have been there <strong>for</strong> millions<br />

of members and customers when they have<br />

needed us the most.”<br />

p Steve Murrells<br />

Allan Leighton, chair of the Group, who<br />

is expected to stand down in 2024 after nine<br />

years in the role, said: “Steve’s decision will<br />

ensure the transitioning of both chair and<br />

CEO will take place seamlessly. Steve has<br />

done a tremendous job and has been at the<br />

<strong>for</strong>efront of our transition. He is a top class<br />

leader and person and his legacy in the<br />

Co-op is firmly embedded.<br />

“Shirine has excellent leadership skills<br />

and a deep level of operational experience,<br />

gained globally across a number of sectors.<br />

p Shirine Khoury-Haq<br />

She understands our Co-op and I and the<br />

rest of the board look <strong>for</strong>ward to working<br />

closely with her going <strong>for</strong>ward.”<br />

Ms Khoury-Haq said: “I am proud to<br />

be part of a wonderful organisation that<br />

contributes so much. We have lots to do and<br />

I am looking <strong>for</strong>ward to working with my<br />

60,000 colleagues, Allan and our board to<br />

continue to make the Co-op a special place<br />

to work while providing great products and<br />

services to our customers and members.”<br />

u Lincolnshire Co-op CEO to retire: p14<br />


Co-op Party condemns Sunak budget as missed opportunity<br />

Rishi Sunak’s spring budget was<br />

announced on 23 March, amid warnings<br />

from the Office of Budget Responsibility of<br />

a record fall in living standards.<br />

Set against a backdrop of rising inflation,<br />

a reduced growth <strong>for</strong>ecast, the aftermath<br />

of the Covid-19 crisis and the invasion of<br />

Ukraine, Mr Sunak’s plans include a 5p<br />

cut in fuel duty and an increase in the<br />

National Insurance threshold.<br />

The Employment Allowance, which<br />

gives relief on business rates and National<br />

Insurance payments to smaller businesses.<br />

Homeowners installing energy efficiency<br />

materials – such as solar, heat pumps<br />

or insulation – will see VAT cut on these<br />

items to zero <strong>for</strong> five years. Green tech<br />

will also be exempt from business rates<br />

from <strong>April</strong> <strong>2022</strong>, and there are measures to<br />

support the decarbonisation of buildings<br />

and low-carbon heat networks.<br />

But the Co-op Party said Mr Sunak<br />

had failed “to confront the worst costof-living<br />

crisis in a generation and help<br />

support the UK’s economic recovery”.<br />

Policy officer Daniel Monaghan added:<br />

“We’re facing fundamental challenges<br />

to our energy security, food security and<br />

economic security – challenges to which<br />

this statement failed to rise.”<br />

Mr Monaghan said the war in Ukraine<br />

had given new urgency to issues around<br />

energy security and the need to invest in<br />

“cheap, clean renewable energy produced<br />

and owned right here in the UK”.<br />

He added: “That’s why we welcome<br />

the government’s move to bring in<br />

our longstanding policy of zero-rating<br />

renewable energy products.”<br />

“Un<strong>for</strong>tunately,” he added, “the<br />

government is allowing its only financial<br />

support <strong>for</strong> the community energy sector<br />

to lapse later this month. We’re calling <strong>for</strong><br />

a new National Community Energy Fund,<br />

so more people can take advantage of the<br />

transition to renewable power. ”<br />

Mr Monaghan added: “Ownership is at<br />

the heart of sharing power and wealth.<br />

An effective way to do this would be by<br />

committing to grow the co-operative<br />

economy and help ensure more businesses<br />

can be owned by workers, consumers and<br />

communities – but this was another area<br />

that the government overlooked.”<br />

Tony Armstrong, CEO of community<br />

business charity Locality, said:<br />

“Community organisations are<br />

concentrated in the places most in need<br />

of ‘levelling up’, and our recent research<br />

showed their extraordinary resilience<br />

during the pandemic (see page 15).<br />

But they could do so much more if the<br />

government just trusted them to act.<br />

“That means making the money the<br />

government is spending on levelling<br />

up more accessible to community<br />

organisations. By making funds more<br />

flexible and decentralised, the government<br />

can put communities in charge.”<br />

10 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


Co-ops and community wealth building included in Scotland’s 10 year plan<br />

The Scottish government has released<br />

its National Strategy <strong>for</strong> Economic<br />

Trans<strong>for</strong>mation, which it says will<br />

“maximise the opportunities of the next<br />

decade to achieve our vision of a wellbeing<br />

economy” by 2032.<br />

The document includes commitments<br />

on a just transition to net zero,<br />

education, entrepreneuralism, fairer<br />

work and regional development which<br />

all have implications <strong>for</strong> co-ops as well as<br />

conventional businesses.<br />

It says the Scottish government will<br />

“undertake and publish a review of how<br />

best to significantly increase the number<br />

of social enterprises, employee-owned<br />

businesses and co-operatives in Scotland,<br />

supporting regional regeneration and the<br />

wealth of local communities.”<br />

There is also a pledge to “introduce<br />

community wealth building legislation<br />

that builds on the successes and<br />

learnings of all of the Scottish government<br />

community wealth building pilot areas”.<br />

Community wealth building, which<br />

sees councils, hospitals, police and<br />

other anchor institutions support local<br />

economies by targeting procurement<br />

spending at local businesses, is a<br />

cornerstone of economic programmes<br />

by UK co-op councils such as Preston.<br />

In Scotland, it has been practised by<br />

authorities including the Ayrshire<br />

Regional Economic Partnership (REP).<br />

The report says: “The Ayrshire Growth<br />

Deal is delivering projects focusing on<br />

community wealth building and working<br />

<strong>for</strong> a healthy economy. Both the Scottish<br />

government and the UK government are<br />

investing up to £103m each over 10 years,<br />

with the Ayrshire councils contributing<br />

a further £45.5m to the deal. Building<br />

on the deal, Ayrshire REP are currently<br />

developing a regional economic strategy<br />

that aims to take a community wealth<br />

building approach to economic activity<br />

across the region.”<br />

James Wright, policy officer at Cooperatives<br />

UK, said: “We are really<br />

pleased to see explicit reference to coops<br />

in the Scottish National Economic<br />

Trans<strong>for</strong>mation Strategy.<br />

“We fed ideas on supporting cooperative<br />

entrepreneurship into the<br />

process, and have been working hard<br />

to encourage Scottish government to<br />

commit to supporting co-operatives since<br />

the election. The challenge now is to get<br />

appropriate resources allocated to the<br />

right aspects to co-operative development<br />

to make an impact.”<br />

Tim Bailey, CEO of the Scottish<br />

Agricultural Organisation Society, said<br />

the Strategy “recognises the important<br />

role <strong>for</strong> co-operatives to help fulfil the<br />

vision of business models that provide fair<br />

work and underpin and support the local<br />

communities in which they operate.”<br />

£4m fund to boost<br />

social businesses in<br />

North Tyneside<br />

Community businesses and co-ops in the<br />

north-east are being invited to apply to<br />

the £4m Social Finance Fund, launched<br />

by the North of Tyne Combined Authority<br />

(NTCA) and community business charity<br />

Power to Change.<br />

The fund is part of a wider £15m<br />

investment from the NTCA to help<br />

businesses develop new and inventive<br />

products and services.<br />

The authority’s Labour/Co-op mayor<br />

Jamie Driscoll said: “We don’t believe in a<br />

top-down way of doing things. The whole<br />

point of devolution is to bring powers<br />

close to people. We know there’s a need<br />

<strong>for</strong> an economy that works better <strong>for</strong> local<br />

people. We know there are people that<br />

want more socially trading organisations<br />

and workers’ co-ops.<br />

“We’re announcing a dedicated £4m<br />

Social Finance Fund specifically <strong>for</strong> local<br />

businesses working to improve our region<br />

and communities.<br />

“But this only works if it’s a partnership<br />

between us and the people we’re funding<br />

so we need you to come <strong>for</strong>ward with your<br />

ideas. This fund will help the co-ops and<br />

community businesses thrive and we need<br />

your help to shape it.”<br />

Deputy mayor Carl Johnson said:<br />

“Social enterprises have a critical role<br />

in the creation of a more inclusive<br />

local economy. As Social Enterprise<br />

UK have shown, they are more diverse<br />

organisations and employ more women<br />

and people from minority communities<br />

than other businesses, with a greater<br />

proportion of these in leadership roles.”<br />

Tim Davies-Pugh, interim CEO of<br />

Power to Change, said: “Socially trading<br />

organisations, including community<br />

businesses, play incredibly important<br />

roles in local economies. Rooted in the<br />

areas they serve, these organisations<br />

directly address the needs of their<br />

communities. They also give local people<br />

more opportunities to actively participate<br />

in, and benefit from, economic activity,<br />

even in the poorest communities.<br />

“We look <strong>for</strong>ward to working in this<br />

exciting partnership with the North of<br />

Tyne Combined Authority to create a<br />

more inclusive economy through the<br />

development of the fund.”<br />

The Insights NE initiative at Newcastle<br />

University will also contribute insights on<br />

the development of the fund.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 11


Bristol gym, Belfast brewery: Community co-ops launch growth bids<br />

Two community-based co-ops have<br />

launched appeals <strong>for</strong> funds to help them<br />

grow and innovate new services.<br />

In south-west England, Bristol Cooperative<br />

Gym is running a crowdfunder<br />

to “build a gym that reflects our values<br />

and make our current space accessible <strong>for</strong><br />

more people”.<br />

The member-owned, volunteer-run<br />

gym has offered fitness training to more<br />

than 1,000 people in parts of the city<br />

with limited access to health and fitness<br />

facilities. Now it wants to offer “an<br />

inclusive, welcoming space <strong>for</strong> exercise<br />

free from assumptions around identity,<br />

appearance and ability”.<br />

It says its co-op model offers an<br />

alternative to profit-driven commercial<br />

gyms, and “supports an approach to<br />

fitness unique to each member”.<br />

“Our model works”, it adds. “We<br />

survived the pandemic, when many other<br />

gyms around us closed, without requiring<br />

any external support or dipping into our<br />

reserves.”<br />

With the new fundraiser, it aims to:<br />

• Build a culture of non-judgment through<br />

celebration of each other’s progress<br />

• Build a supportive and inclusive culture<br />

that is free from assumptions<br />

• Empower people to create healthy<br />

training habits<br />

• Engage people who are excluded from<br />

training facilities<br />

• Provide quality coaching and facilities<br />

• Remain af<strong>for</strong>dable by using fair pricing<br />

• Be financially sustainable in day-to-day<br />

operations.<br />

Last October, the co-op took on sole<br />

occupancy of a space in St Anne’s House<br />

run by Bricks – a social enterprise<br />

supporting local and creative communities<br />

in the city.<br />

Since then, it says it has welcomed 200<br />

new people from the local area, offered<br />

free weightlifting classes to NEET (Not<br />

in Education, Employment or Training)<br />

young people and free memberships to<br />

refugees and asylum seekers.<br />

But the site, a <strong>for</strong>mer council building,<br />

needs an urgent refit, including<br />

replacement flooring, improved<br />

soundproofing and new equipment.<br />

This includes a new layout that is more<br />

suitable <strong>for</strong> beginners and members<br />

with mobility issues or neurodiversity,<br />

increased control over light and<br />

noise levels to better manage sensory<br />

stimulation, the option of a private<br />

training area, and equipment that is more<br />

adaptable to all abilities and body shapes.<br />

Members and coaches worked with<br />

local architects 2A1M to design the ideal<br />

training environment, and the co-op has<br />

taken advice from experts in accessible,<br />

inclusive and community-engaged<br />

approaches to fitness, offering something<br />

“radically different to how conventional<br />

gyms look and feel”.<br />

“Our gym will include people who are<br />

often excluded from fitness spaces by<br />

partnering proactively with specialist<br />

organisations in the communities we hope<br />

to reach,” the team adds.<br />

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s<br />

Boundary Brewing Co-operative is<br />

planning to open the region’s first<br />

taproom, next door to its brewery.<br />

The co-op, which has run dozens of<br />

pop-up taprooms and events and wants a<br />

permanent venue, is offering membership<br />

shares in the venture, in a bid to raise<br />

£150,000 to fund the fit out costs; it has so<br />

far raised £53,000.<br />

It says the facility will act as a community<br />

hub, with space <strong>for</strong> social events such as<br />

book clubs, running clubs, finance classes<br />

and board game clubs, as well as serving<br />

beers from the Boundary brewery and<br />

elsewhere, alongside wines and “carefully<br />

curated local spirits”. Customers will also<br />

be able to enjoy pizza from neighbouring<br />

business Flout.<br />

The co-op hopes to add to its 1,500<br />

members with the share offer, expanding<br />

its ability to work with its community<br />

and local charities. It is planning to hire<br />

a community engagement officer once the<br />

taproom is up and running.<br />

“If you have fallen head over heels in<br />

love with Boundary, or just love beer,<br />

and have always wanted a permanent<br />

place to come to enjoy the freshest, most<br />

interesting beers in Belfast, then this is<br />

your opportunity to make a difference,”<br />

it says. “If you are a current member, and<br />

want to support us further, then this is<br />

a great opportunity. If you are not, and<br />

want to help open the first taproom in the<br />

country, then come along.”<br />

All members, new and current, will<br />

continue to get 18% discount off Boundary<br />

beer from the co-op’s shop, and they will<br />

also now get 10% off all Boundary beer<br />

from all its venues.<br />

Also, during this community share raise,<br />

they will receive 20% of their investment<br />

back as a gift voucher <strong>for</strong> Boundary beer<br />

in its venues; a £1,000 investment will<br />

bring a £200 gift voucher <strong>for</strong> its venues.<br />

Minimum investment is £100. Those<br />

who invest £100 will be an ordinary<br />

member. Those who invest £250 or more<br />

will be a supporter member. The main<br />

difference between an ordinary and<br />

supporter member is that there are more<br />

supporter member seats on the board of<br />

directors.<br />

12 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


Young co-operators attend PeaceCommunicators programme<br />

p Members of the Woodcraft Folk were among those attending an international PeaceCommunicators seminar<br />

Members of the Woodcraft Folk<br />

have attended an international<br />

PeaceCommunicators seminar, part<br />

of a programme centred around peace<br />

education. It aims to provide a space <strong>for</strong><br />

young people aged 16-30 to “develop the<br />

skills, attitudes, values and knowledge<br />

to help them build sustainable, just and<br />

supportive societies”.<br />

The Woodcraft Folk is a co-operative<br />

educational movement <strong>for</strong> children and<br />

young people which emphasises equality,<br />

friendship, peace and co-operation. It<br />

operates 300 volunteer-led groups <strong>for</strong><br />

young people across England, Wales and<br />

Scotland.<br />

“Woodcraft Folk promotes positive<br />

alternatives to violence with their young<br />

supporters and we were proud to have<br />

some of their members selected <strong>for</strong> the<br />

PeaceCommunicators, representing the<br />

organisation and working hard <strong>for</strong> peace,”<br />

said the organisation, adding that the<br />

PeaceCommuniators project aligns with<br />

its aims and values of “building a more<br />

peaceful world, where all enjoy freedom<br />

from war and want”.<br />

The PeaceCommunicators project has<br />

three phases; phase one took place on 21-<br />

27 February in Belgium under the theme<br />

‘Critical Peace Educators’, which aimed<br />

to develop participants’ knowledge,<br />

capacities, and skills on peace education,<br />

non-violent conflict resolution, conflict<br />

mediation, and conflict prevention.<br />

Woodcraft Folk members Iolo Walker and<br />

Robyn Brown attended the event, along<br />

with member Bethan Manton-Roseblade<br />

supporting the training team.<br />

“The peace education training seminar<br />

felt extremely poignant at a severe point<br />

of international political distress,” said<br />

Mr Walker. “We worked through the<br />

week identifying what peace means on<br />

the individual, interpersonal and global<br />

scales and developed strategies on<br />

reducing harm in our daily lives and the<br />

wider world. Creating global definitions<br />

of peace and violence was extremely eyeopening<br />

as they are both so contextual.<br />

“I felt very <strong>for</strong>tunate to have been born<br />

in a country where most of the violence<br />

I encounter is second hand. There were<br />

participants in the seminar who came<br />

from countries at the whim of violent<br />

occupational projects such as Palestine<br />

and Ukraine. Creating international<br />

networks through participating in the<br />

seminar <strong>for</strong>ms possibilities <strong>for</strong> exchange<br />

and support.”<br />

The workshop focused on critical peace<br />

education in the context of group work.<br />

Participants also learnt skills to develop<br />

online and offline training sessions on<br />

peace education <strong>for</strong> young people from<br />

their local groups. The seminar was led<br />

by Aggie Taylor, European Solidarity<br />

Co-ops volunteer with the International<br />

Falcon Movement – Socialist Educational<br />

International (IFM-SEI), who is on<br />

placement from Woodcraft Folk.<br />

“The aim of the week was to take<br />

youth workers from around the world<br />

and together, develop knowledge and<br />

competencies on Peace Education in<br />

order <strong>for</strong> them to become Critical Peace<br />

Communicators,” she said. “We looked<br />

deeply into emotions and the role they<br />

play in understanding peace and conflict,<br />

we tried out various methods of nonviolent<br />

communication and we looked at<br />

how conflicts are affected by structural<br />

and cultural violence.”<br />

Ms Taylor added that an emergency<br />

session was planned in response to the<br />

outbreak of the war in Ukraine where the<br />

participants had a chance to recognise<br />

and reflect on their emotional responses<br />

to the war and to make plans and deliver<br />

some concrete action which included<br />

writing the official IFM-SEI statement.<br />

“We finished the week looking at<br />

mechanisms behind violence, including<br />

propaganda, and returning to planning<br />

a peaceful world. The participants will<br />

now go <strong>for</strong>ward as peace communicators<br />

and plan their own sessions in their local<br />

communities, funded and supported by<br />

the project.”<br />

Woodcraft Folk has recently released<br />

a range of educational resources and<br />

activities on peace <strong>for</strong> a range of ages in<br />

response to the Ukraine war. “With the<br />

war raising lots of questions <strong>for</strong> young<br />

people and affecting their mental health,<br />

the charity wanted to create resources to<br />

support youngsters and youth leaders as<br />

well as the charity groups providing safe<br />

spaces <strong>for</strong> members to talk about the<br />

war and what they may have seen in the<br />

news,” it said.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 13

RETAIL<br />

Lincolnshire Co-op CEO Ursula Lidbetter announces retirement<br />

Lincolnshire Co-op’s CEO Ursula Lidbetter<br />

has announced her plan to retire at the<br />

end of <strong>2022</strong>, after a career with the society<br />

spanning 37 years.<br />

Ms Lidbetter, who started in 1985 as a<br />

buyer and department manager, is in her<br />

18th year at the helm of the independent<br />

retail co-op, which has over 220 varied<br />

outlets and recorded sales of over £355m in<br />

2020/21.<br />

She has also been at the helm of major<br />

projects including the creation of the<br />

Lincoln Science and Innovation Park<br />

and The Cornhill Quarter development in<br />

Lincoln. She received her OBE in 2019 <strong>for</strong><br />

services to the local economy.<br />

Her career also saw her step up from<br />

November 2013 – February 2015 <strong>for</strong> a brief<br />

stint as chair of the Co-operative Group in<br />

the wake of its financial crisis, where she<br />

helped to steer it through the early stages<br />

of its rescue process.<br />

This year will see Ms Lidbetter turn<br />

60 and, after almost two thirds of her life<br />

working <strong>for</strong> Lincolnshire, she feels it’s the<br />

right time to retire and spend more time<br />

with family.<br />

She said: “It’s a privilege to work<br />

alongside my 2,900 colleagues to lead this<br />

special business, where we aim to make life<br />

better in our communities every day.<br />

“It’s also wonderful to collaborate with<br />

many like-minded people in organisations<br />

across Lincolnshire and beyond to bring<br />

<strong>for</strong>ward schemes making such a difference.<br />

“In due course, I will hand over to my<br />

successor who will take us into the next<br />

stage of our development.”<br />

Lincolnshire’s board of directors will<br />

conduct a recruitment process <strong>for</strong> the new<br />

CEO over coming months.<br />

Chair David Cowell said: “The board<br />

would like to thank Ursula <strong>for</strong> the huge<br />

contribution she has made to the success<br />

of the society during her time here. She<br />

will be leaving our co-op in great shape to<br />

move on to its next chapter, based upon<br />

the strong legacy that has been built over<br />

161 years of trading. In the meantime, we<br />

have a busy programme of work <strong>for</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

and look <strong>for</strong>ward to delivering this under<br />

Ursula’s expert leadership.”<br />

u Letters, page 24<br />


Central England gathers women co-operators <strong>for</strong> IWD <strong>2022</strong><br />

To celebrate International Women’s Day on<br />

8 March –which this year took the theme<br />

of ‘Break the Bias’, Central England Co-op<br />

held a Women’s Voices event.<br />

The event – held the following day – took<br />

place at the National Memorial Arboretum<br />

in Staf<strong>for</strong>dshire, gathering around 100<br />

Central England members and employees.<br />

Discussion took in issues such as biases<br />

in the workplace, achieving career<br />

progression and dealing with bereavement.<br />

Central England also shared details about<br />

its work with women’s groups in Malawi.<br />

Participants heard from keynote<br />

speakers Baroness Glenys Thornton,<br />

Denise Scott-McDonald, president of the<br />

Co-operative Group’s National Members’<br />

Council, and Debbie Robinson, CEO of the<br />

Central England.<br />

Ms Scott-McDonald shared her story<br />

of growing up in a family of co-operators<br />

and political activists, be<strong>for</strong>e studying<br />

journalism at Columbia University in the<br />

US. While working as a journalist in New<br />

York she had a brief interaction with<br />

Barack Obama, back then just an activist.<br />

Her key advice <strong>for</strong> women was to never<br />

underestimate what they can achieve.<br />

Sharing her tips <strong>for</strong> how to break<br />

gender boundaries, Baroness Thornton<br />

emphasised the need <strong>for</strong> solidarity, support<br />

and sisterhood, mentioning the mentorship<br />

she had received from fellow Labour MP<br />

Harriet Harman and late co-operator Hilda<br />

Smith. She encouraged women to question<br />

norms and not pay attention to those telling<br />

them to “keep their tone down”.<br />

Participants also had the chance to<br />

go on a tour of the Arboretum, a site of<br />

national remembrance, which welcomes<br />

over 300,000 visitors a year.<br />

International Women’s Day has been<br />

marked around the world since 1911 to<br />

commemorate the cultural, political, and<br />

socioeconomic achievements of women.<br />

The International Co-operative<br />

Alliance’s Gender Equality Committee<br />

(GEC) published a statement which<br />

highlighted the interconnectedness<br />

between women’s rights, gender equality<br />

and climate justice.<br />

“Co-operatives, as people-centred<br />

economic models – through their<br />

values of self-help, equality and equity,<br />

and principles of voluntary and open<br />

membership and democratic control – are<br />

well-placed to address many of the issues<br />

that negatively impact women,” it said,<br />

“especially to address the multifaceted<br />

issue of poverty and shape women’s<br />

wellbeing.”<br />

The statement also pointed out the role<br />

co-operatives play in promoting gender<br />

equality “by increasing women’s access to<br />

resources and economic opportunities; by<br />

empowering them not only economically<br />

but also individually and socially to<br />

challenge the social and cultural norms;<br />

by creating an enabling environment<br />

<strong>for</strong> them to use those opportunities and<br />

assets to achieve equal outcomes to men.”<br />

The GEC also called <strong>for</strong> “peace and<br />

diplomatic solutions” to the Ukraine<br />

war “to prevent further suffering of<br />

millions of innocent people, especially of<br />

women and girls.”<br />

GEC chair Maria Eugenia Pérez Zea<br />

said: “As values-based enterprises, cooperatives<br />

are by nature promoters of<br />

gender equality. At times of crisis and<br />

uncertainty, co-operatives continue to<br />

care <strong>for</strong> their communities and provide<br />

much-needed products and services while<br />

making positive changes.”<br />

14 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


Preston Council<br />

transfers Travellers’ site<br />

into co-op management<br />

Preston City Council has voted to adopt a<br />

site <strong>for</strong> Travellers after Lancashire County<br />

Council decided to dispose of it – leading<br />

to fears it would be sold, its rents increased<br />

and residents <strong>for</strong>ced to move.<br />

Residents will be invited to join the<br />

newly established Leighton Street Cooperative,<br />

which will take on its day-today<br />

management.<br />

The co-op plans fit in with the ‘Preston<br />

Model’ ethos of the council, which<br />

<strong>for</strong> several years has been running<br />

community wealth building initiatives<br />

to boost the local economy and increase<br />

democratic ownership.<br />

Travellers have been living at the site <strong>for</strong><br />

more than 30 years. It is one of three sites<br />

established <strong>for</strong> the Traveller community<br />

by Lancashire County Council in the late<br />

1980s and the families are well integrated<br />

into the area.<br />

A recent decision by Lancashire<br />

County Council to dispose of the sites<br />

raised concern <strong>for</strong> their future but, as an<br />

alternative to selling, Lancashire offered<br />

Leighton Street to Preston City Council.<br />

Community representatives proposed<br />

that if the city council adopted the site, it<br />

would be run by a co-op.<br />

Preston Council leader Matthew Brown<br />

said: “The Leighton Street community’s<br />

proposal was very well received by the<br />

city council. A key part of our commitment<br />

to community wealth building is to<br />

encourage greater democratic ownership<br />

and management of local assets. Cooperatives<br />

– business enterprises owned<br />

by their members – can play a key role in<br />

this. The readiness of the community at<br />

Leighton Street to establish their own cooperative<br />

to run the site provided a very<br />

good fit with the council’s own approach.”<br />

Covid proves the community business model’s mettle<br />

(Photo: Alex Brenner)<br />

Research from community business apex<br />

Locality says the pandemic saw the sector<br />

innovate, responding to local needs and<br />

diversifying its revenue source. This has<br />

left it stronger; the survey found 78% of<br />

community organisations are optimistic<br />

about the future – compared to just 68%<br />

of small businesses. Locality says this<br />

strengthens the case to give the sector a<br />

share of levelling up funds.<br />

Welsh firm quadruples staff after switching to EO status<br />

BIC Innovation, a private consultancy<br />

with offices in Anglesey and Bridgend,<br />

has grown from 13 workers to 51 since<br />

becoming employee-owned (EO) in 2018.<br />

The Welsh government has committed to<br />

doubling the number of EO firms in Wales<br />

over the next Senedd term and Wales Cooperative<br />

Centre has seen a surge in the<br />

number of businesses looking to switch.<br />

Co-op Group sticks with ethical compost <strong>for</strong> peat’s sake<br />

The Co-op Group has reaffirmed its<br />

commitment to selling only peat-free<br />

compost, developed by Westland. Its<br />

announcement comes as the government<br />

closes consultation on measures to end the<br />

retail sale of peat in England and Wales.<br />

Peat is important in terms of habitat and<br />

storing carbon to prevent climate change.<br />

Southern Co-op scraps plastic carriers and bags <strong>for</strong> life<br />

Southern Co-operative is removing all<br />

single-use carrier bags and plastic bags<br />

<strong>for</strong> life from sale, to help tackle pollution<br />

and climate change. The society also<br />

completed the rollout of WasteInsight<br />

tech across its entire store estate in<br />

January. This uses instant data analysis to<br />

improve sales of marked-down produce to<br />

eliminate food waste.<br />

Just Credit Union celebrates 20 years of social impact<br />

Just Credit Union has published a report<br />

on its social impact to mark its 20th<br />

anniversary. The Shropshire credit<br />

union has seen steady growth since<br />

its establishment in 2001, issuing its<br />

30,000th loan last year and lending over<br />

£15m to its members so far. Over 50% of<br />

its members have reported being more<br />

able to save since joining the credit union.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 15


Wales Co-operative Centre calls <strong>for</strong> act to support af<strong>for</strong>dable homes<br />

p Derek Walker, WCC chief executive<br />

A law to boost community ownership and<br />

empowerment could help community<br />

groups deliver af<strong>for</strong>dable housing<br />

according to a report from the Wales Cooperative<br />

Centre (WCC).<br />

Such an act would give community<br />

organisations a statutory first right of<br />

refusal over assets in their area when they<br />

are proposed <strong>for</strong> sale or transfer, it adds.<br />

The report, Community ownership of<br />

land and assets: enabling the delivery of<br />

community-led housing in Wales, says the<br />

current market-led housing system is not<br />

working in Wales, with prices soaring and<br />

a lack of genuinely af<strong>for</strong>dable options <strong>for</strong><br />

local people.<br />

“There is growing potential <strong>for</strong><br />

community-led housing in Wales,” says<br />

CEO Derek Walker. “We are working with<br />

over 60 groups who wish to develop<br />

their own af<strong>for</strong>dable housing – but there<br />

remain barriers that can only be overcome<br />

with the support of Welsh government.<br />

Not least among these barriers is the<br />

difficulty <strong>for</strong> community groups to acquire<br />

land on which to build af<strong>for</strong>dable homes.<br />

“The recommendations within our<br />

report look to enhance democracy at a<br />

local level and transfer the balance of<br />

power away from wealthy landowners to<br />

ensure that people across Wales have a<br />

greater ability to shape their local areas.”<br />

The report offers a number of<br />

recommendations <strong>for</strong> Welsh government,<br />

including establishing a commission<br />

to stimulate innovative thinking on<br />

community ownership of land and assets<br />

in Wales, and introducing a community<br />

ownership and empowerment act.<br />

It also suggests the Welsh government<br />

develops a land ownership registry/<br />

database and a revolving loan fund<br />

<strong>for</strong> community-led housing projects,<br />

alongside a <strong>for</strong>mal process <strong>for</strong> Community<br />

Asset Transfers (CAT) so that there is a<br />

standardised approach across all local<br />

authorities and public bodies.<br />

As well as trans<strong>for</strong>ming the communityled<br />

housing sector in Wales, improving<br />

community ownership rights would<br />

benefit other sectors by growing the<br />

community energy, farming and food<br />

production sectors, helping to protect<br />

the natural environment, and revitalising<br />

dilapidated assets and buildings in cities,<br />

towns, and villages.<br />

“We will continue to work with partners<br />

to ensure that any changes made meet<br />

the needs of communities across Wales,”<br />

adds the report.<br />

Meanwhile, the Centre has become<br />

the latest organisation to be accredited<br />

by the White Ribbon UK campaign,<br />

which sees it pledge to never commit,<br />

excuse, or remain silent about violence<br />

against women. White Ribbon is a transnational<br />

movement that is committed<br />

to ending male violence against women<br />

and generating meaningful behavioural<br />

changes in men and boys.<br />


Outlandish withdraws membership of Co-operatives UK<br />

Following the launch of Co-operatives<br />

UK’s new branding and strategy, tech<br />

worker co-operative Outlandish has<br />

publicly withdrawn its membership of the<br />

apex body.<br />

“Co-operatives UK commissioned a<br />

private limited company to develop their<br />

brand. For us, this is at odds with their<br />

strategy [which] prioritises ​enabling tech<br />

and digital; embedding the values and<br />

principles across all businesses; and<br />

inspiring communities to grow the cooperative<br />

economy,” said a statement<br />

from Outlandish.<br />

“We believe Co-operatives UK should<br />

be held to high standards when it comes<br />

to commissioning co-ops in their supply<br />

chain [...] Whilst as a small worker co-op<br />

our membership fees may be insignificant<br />

compared to other members, we want<br />

them to be used to support the co-op<br />

sector, not the private sector.”<br />

Outlandish described how the<br />

co-op movement “is not lacking in highly<br />

experienced designers”, giving the<br />

example of CoTech, a UK-wide network of<br />

worker co-ops in the digital sector.<br />

“Frankly this feels like a slap in the<br />

face,” added Outlandish, claiming that<br />

Co-operatives UK also never put any<br />

money into supporting CoTech or SPACE4.<br />

Co-operatives UK denied this.<br />

Responding to the open letter, Cooperatives<br />

UK CEO, Rose Marley,<br />

highlighted how in 2020 the organisation<br />

consolidated six separate programme<br />

websites into one central website,<br />

awarding this contract to CoTech. “This<br />

piece of work had a value of over £100,000<br />

and was one of the largest digital projects<br />

we have undertaken in recent years,”<br />

she said, adding that a third of UnFound<br />

Accelerator Workshops were also<br />

commissioned from CoTech.<br />

She said that Co-operatives UK operates<br />

a ‘members first’ procurement policy but<br />

that on this occasion, “we invited both coops<br />

and non-co-ops to bid <strong>for</strong> this work”.<br />

“Not only was the winning agency the<br />

most creative and cost-effective approach<br />

<strong>for</strong> members’ money, we have repeatedly<br />

seen that our comms do not resonate<br />

outside the movement,” said Ms Marley.<br />

“A task all our members have been asking<br />

us to do is communicate more effectively<br />

beyond the movement and a fresh pair of<br />

eyes was helpful on this occasion.”<br />

16 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>



Co-op sector responds to Queensland and NSW floods<br />

Australian co-ops and credit unions have<br />

been stepping up their relief ef<strong>for</strong>ts in the<br />

wake of devastating floods in Queensland<br />

and New South Wales.<br />

Responding to the crisis, the Australia<br />

Mutuals Foundation, the mutual<br />

sector’s charitable fund, has activated<br />

its emergency / disaster relief donations<br />

portal to accept donations from the<br />

Australian co-operative and mutual<br />

community.<br />

Sector body the Business Council of<br />

Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM)<br />

says many of its member co-ops are<br />

at the epicentre of some of the most<br />

extreme flooding, including Norco dairy,<br />

Summerland Credit Union and TNR<br />

Accountants in Lismore, and Heritage<br />

Bank in Toowoomba.<br />

On its website, BCCM reports that<br />

bcu credit union branches are closed<br />

in Brisbane, Murwillumbah, Lismore,<br />

Ballina, Iluka, Grafton and Toormina.<br />

Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-op “has<br />

been taking it hour by hour <strong>for</strong> now.<br />

Their community spirit and resilience<br />

in managing the challenges has shone<br />

through,” it adds.<br />

The office of Koori Mail was destroyed<br />

in the floods, <strong>for</strong>cing it to miss its first<br />

publication date in its 30 year existence.<br />

The Mail is a <strong>for</strong>tnightly newspaper <strong>for</strong><br />

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander<br />

people, owned by five Indigenous<br />

Australian community co-ops, and its<br />

team have been helping evacuate remote<br />

Indigenous communities.<br />

Nundah Community Enterprises Co-op<br />

lost $10,000 (£5,500) worth of stock and<br />

equipment in soccer club canteens, which<br />

it runs to provide work opportunities to<br />

people from refugee backgrounds. Despite<br />

this, Nundah Community Enterprises Coop<br />

teams are assisting with cleanup.<br />

Many other co-op and credit union<br />

premises have been damaged and<br />

destroyed, and multiple organisations<br />

had to close branches, but co-ops have<br />

also been helping with relief and recovery.<br />

The Casino Food Co-operative, in<br />

Northern Rivers, NSW, has been a centre<br />

point <strong>for</strong> recovery and food distribution<br />

hub, offering use of its refrigeration<br />

equipment, <strong>for</strong>klifts, chopper pad, fuel<br />

p One of the flooded facilities at Norco milk co-op<br />

tanks, mobile generators and earth<br />

moving equipment. Staff, including<br />

plant workers and cleaning teams, are<br />

cleaning homes and assisting with food<br />

distribution.<br />

In a Facebook message to members,<br />

Norco dairy CEO Michael Hampson<br />

said: “A huge region from South East<br />

Queensland down into Northern New<br />

South Wales and parts of Sydney have<br />

experienced a flood event never be<strong>for</strong>e<br />

seen in history.<br />

“Our thoughts go out to all people<br />

that are suffering devastation, loss and<br />

hardship over this time. The Northern<br />

Rivers region of NSW has been particularly<br />

hard hit and un<strong>for</strong>tunately, the Norco<br />

Lismore based facilities, including our<br />

heritage-listed ice-cream factory, have<br />

been inundated with floodwaters. We<br />

are rallying together to get through the<br />

clean-up process and it must be said that<br />

the courageous ef<strong>for</strong>ts and support of our<br />

community in the wake of this tragedy has<br />

been nothing short of inspirational.<br />

“The Norco team continue to work<br />

diligently to get milk and supplies to<br />

flood-affected areas and we will continue<br />

to focus on this over the coming days and<br />

weeks during the clean-up ef<strong>for</strong>ts.”<br />

Other members with operations in<br />

the flood areas in NSW and Southern<br />

Queensland include RACQ, Great<br />

Southern Bank, Queensland Country<br />

Bank, Union Co-operative Society,<br />

Marquis Macadamias, Ballina Fishermens<br />

Co-op, Clarence River Fisherman’s Co-op,<br />

OzGroup and Casino Food Co-op, which<br />

has been a centre point <strong>for</strong> recovery and<br />

food distribution hub from the outset.<br />

Australia’s co-ops and mutual banks are<br />

also stepping up with support packages.<br />

BCCM added: “We know many<br />

individuals from the BCCM community<br />

will have their own stories of community<br />

care and resilience as they carry the<br />

co-operative spirit with them in all<br />

they do.<br />

“Our hearts break as we read the<br />

emerging stories and try to comprehend<br />

the magnitude of this disaster. In some<br />

regions, the clean-up and recovery<br />

will take months or even years. Stock,<br />

infrastructure and capital losses have<br />

a profound effect on businesses, not to<br />

mention workers who are also faced with<br />

personal losses at home. Off the back<br />

of the pandemic, as well as bushfires in<br />

some regions, this is yet another trauma.<br />

However, as in previous disasters, we<br />

know that co-ops and mutuals will play<br />

a pivotal role in rebuilding their local<br />

communities.”<br />

The apex body’s chief executive Melina<br />

Morrison travelled to Canberra to in<strong>for</strong>m<br />

policymakers of the impact of co-ops and<br />

mutuals in flood-impacted regions, “who<br />

are problem-solving and responding to<br />

the disaster with local knowledge”.<br />

u BCCM updates at bit.ly/36M26PY<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 17

GLOBAL<br />

World Credit Union Conference keynote speakers announced<br />

The World Council of Credit Unions<br />

(WOCCU) has revealed the names of the<br />

first three keynote speakers who will<br />

be addressing its World Credit Union<br />

Conference in July.<br />

Due to take place in Glasgow on 17-<br />

20 July, the conference is expected to<br />

gather credit union practitioners from 60<br />

countries to discuss issues related to credit<br />

union leadership, cyber security, digital<br />

technologies and the future of financial<br />

services.<br />

Speakers will include thought leader<br />

Ian Khan, cyber security analyst Keren<br />

Elazari and behavioural science expert<br />

Belinda Parmar.<br />

Mr Khan has worked with clients<br />

in the finance, banking, HighTech,<br />

manufacturing and credit union industries.<br />

He is best known <strong>for</strong> creating the Future<br />

p The event will take place on 17-20 July in<br />

Glasgow (photo credit: iStock)<br />

Readiness Score, an organisational metric<br />

to measure and achieve future-readiness.<br />

Also a filmmaker, he has explored issues<br />

such as Blockchain, artificial intelligence<br />

and the future of work in several<br />

documentaries.<br />

Ms Elazari has over 20 years of experience<br />

in the field of cyber security, having worked<br />

with technology providers, government<br />

agencies, start-ups and Fortune 500<br />

companies.<br />

Her Ted Talk on cyber security and<br />

hacking has been viewed by millions and<br />

translated into 30 languages. It was also<br />

chosen <strong>for</strong> TED’s ‘Most Powerful Ideas’<br />

and is one of TED’s most watched talks on<br />

the topic of cyber security and hacking.<br />

Ms Parmar created a Global Empathy<br />

Index – the first index to measure<br />

empathy and inclusion at scale, which<br />

was published in the Harvard Business<br />

Review. She has worked with several large<br />

companies and their leaders to change<br />

cultures and bring more empowerment to<br />

people’s lives.<br />

The full programme is available on the<br />

conference website. The conference will be<br />

co-hosted by Woccu and the Association<br />

of British Credit Unions Limited (Abcul).<br />

USA<br />

Credit union tech plat<strong>for</strong>m CFS rebrands as Co-op Solutions<br />

CO-OP Financial Services, the tech<br />

plat<strong>for</strong>m <strong>for</strong> the US credit union sector,<br />

has rebranded as Co-op Solutions.<br />

The launch, at the Governmental Affairs<br />

Conference (GAC) of the Credit Union<br />

National Association, presented the<br />

business’s new name, corporate tagline<br />

and logo, which represents its “evolution<br />

as a proven innovator of reliable, secure,<br />

digital-first payments <strong>for</strong> the modern<br />

member, and fintech solutions”.<br />

“Over the last few years we have<br />

aggressively invested in the company<br />

to produce a payments and financial<br />

technology plat<strong>for</strong>m <strong>for</strong> credit unions<br />

and their members, bringing us to a<br />

rebranding as Co-op Solutions,” said Todd<br />

Clark, president/CEO of Co-op Solutions.<br />

“It’s a change on the outside that<br />

better captures the change that has taken<br />

place on the inside. Co-op is an essential<br />

strategic partner committed to the success<br />

and growth of the credit union movement,<br />

and a provider of innovative solutions<br />

ensuring our clients offer their members<br />

leading-edge technology and services.”<br />

Co-op has adopted “Make every<br />

experience matter” as its credo, which<br />

is supported by a new corporate mission<br />

statement: “To connect credit unions<br />

to the technology, strategic partnership<br />

and scale they need to best serve their<br />

members now and into the future.”<br />

“As we roll out the new branding, our<br />

focus remains true to the co-operative<br />

spirit we were founded on – to deliver<br />

integrated technology solutions that<br />

enable member engagement and drive<br />

usage and market share growth <strong>for</strong> credit<br />

unions,” said chief experience officer<br />

Samantha Paxson.<br />

Co-op Solutions says it has evolved<br />

from being a reseller of others’ products to<br />

building “an ever-expanding technology<br />

ecosystem to address the lifestyle needs<br />

of members as they pay <strong>for</strong> things daily,“<br />

adding, “not only do credit unions<br />

have a true fintech company within the<br />

movement, but a consultative partner in<br />

providing complete solutions.”<br />

“Members want to interact with<br />

their institution whenever, however<br />

and wherever they choose, and each<br />

interaction must be simple, secure and<br />

satisfying,” added Mr Clark. “Co-op<br />

provides a complete digital payments<br />

ecosystem that enables credit unions<br />

to facilitate the daily lifestyle moments<br />

of members. Each time a member pays<br />

<strong>for</strong> something, it is an experience that<br />

matters – bringing that member into a<br />

closer relationship with their credit union.<br />

Through our work, we help ensure that<br />

credit unions stay relevant.”<br />

The logo will continue to render the<br />

company’s name in all caps, but will switch<br />

to the conventional ‘Co-op’ in regular text<br />

to “invoke the word co-operative, which<br />

is core to Co-op’s business as a provider<br />

owned by more than 900 shareholding<br />

institutions and servicing 85% of the<br />

nation’s credit unions”.<br />

No immediate change is required<br />

from the company’s clients. Signage<br />

<strong>for</strong> Co-op’s consumer-facing services<br />

– its 30,000-strong ATM network and<br />

5,700-location shared branch network –<br />

remains unchanged at this time.<br />

18 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


Credit unions<br />

want law change to<br />

increase mortgage offer<br />

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU)<br />

has asked the government to allow credit<br />

unions to significantly increase their<br />

footprint in the mortgage market.<br />

The statement is a response to a Sunday<br />

Independent article by credit unions<br />

minister Sean Fleming, suggesting that<br />

“credit unions should fill the gap left by<br />

the departures of Ulster Bank and KBC<br />

from the Irish market and start lending<br />

more mortgages”.<br />

ILCU said the sector was keen to seize<br />

this opportunity but noted that credit<br />

unions were “currently handcuffed by the<br />

restrictive lending limits <strong>for</strong> mortgages<br />

prescribed by the Central Bank of<br />

Ireland”. ILCU explained that mortgage<br />

and SME lending is limited to a combined<br />

maximum of 7.5% of total assets <strong>for</strong> most<br />

credit unions. As such, a credit union<br />

with assets of €70m (£58.33m), taking an<br />

average mortgage of €350,000 (£291,628),<br />

can only offer 15 mortgages under the<br />

current limits, exclusive of any SME<br />

lending.<br />

ILCU asked Minister Fleming to address<br />

the restrictive regulatory lending regime<br />

<strong>for</strong> credit unions.<br />

Commenting on the article, ILCU deputy<br />

CEO David Malone said: “The Programme<br />

<strong>for</strong> Government committed to ‘Enable<br />

the Credit Union movement to grow as a<br />

key provider of community banking in<br />

the country’. In order <strong>for</strong> credit unions to<br />

become community banks, and to really<br />

engage in the mortgage market, the ILCU<br />

is asking minister Fleming to address<br />

the imbalance caused by the restrictive<br />

regulatory lending regime in his soon to be<br />

published review of the policy framework<br />

within which credit unions operate.”<br />

Mr Malone added: “The publication<br />

of this policy framework review presents<br />

a once in a decade opportunity <strong>for</strong> the<br />

Minister to empower credit unions to<br />

realise their full potential in filling the<br />

gap left by Ulster Bank and KBC and in<br />

doing so, offering a community-based<br />

alternative to the remaining banks to the<br />

Irish public.<br />

“The ILCU is ready and willing to<br />

constructively engage with Minister<br />

Fleming and his officials.”<br />

Irish credit unions have also recently<br />

asked <strong>for</strong> re<strong>for</strong>m of regulatory capital<br />

requirements <strong>for</strong> credit unions.<br />

In a 2021 paper by the Credit Union<br />

CEO Forum, credit union leaders argued<br />

that these requirements were “excessive<br />

and unjustified relative to the risk profile<br />

of the Irish credit union balance sheet,<br />

international credit union requirements<br />

and the requirements on competing<br />

financial institutions”.<br />


Co‐ops hit by<br />

Typhoon Odette get aid<br />

from government<br />

The Philippines’ Cooperative Development<br />

Authority (CDA) granted a total of PHP<br />

350,000 (£5,100) financial assistance<br />

to four micro co-ops affected by last<br />

December’s Typhoon Odette, which killed<br />

than 400 people, with over 500 others<br />

injured and more than 380,000 displaced.<br />

The four co-ops, based in the province<br />

of Negros Occidental, received their<br />

cheques from governor Eugenio Jose<br />

Lacson, who said: “The distribution of<br />

financial assistance will further our goal<br />

to strengthen the capacities of our people.<br />

An empowered people is the basic element<br />

of development.”<br />

Gil Montilla Agrarian Re<strong>for</strong>m<br />

Cooperative, San Jose Villa Multi-Purpose<br />

Cooperative, and Sitio Flora Agrarian<br />

Re<strong>for</strong>m Cooperative received PHP 100,000<br />

(£1,500) each while the Pulupandan<br />

Transport Sector Consumers Cooperative<br />

was granted PHP 50,000 (£750). The<br />

funding came from the CDA as part of<br />

p The co-ops received their cheques from<br />

the province’s governor Eugenio Jose Lacson<br />

(Photo: PIO Negros Occidental)<br />

its Special Assistance <strong>for</strong> Recovery and<br />

Alleviation Program.<br />

The country’s electric and insurance<br />

co-ops were among the first to provide<br />

assistance to the affected regions.<br />

The One EC Network Foundation<br />

(OECNF), the charity arm of the Philippine<br />

Federation of Rural Cooperatives<br />

(Philfeco), used vehicles from electric<br />

co-ops to send in relief goods such as<br />

food, water, rice, and other essentials.<br />

Likewise, CLIMBS Life and General<br />

Insurance Cooperative helped farmer<br />

members by offering assistance, with the<br />

payment of the first claims through its<br />

enhanced Weather Protect product.<br />


Fonterra trials<br />

electric milk tanker<br />

Dairy co-op Fonterra will trial the first<br />

modern electric milk tanker at its Waitoa<br />

plant, near Auckland.<br />

The tanker, part-financed by the<br />

government’s Low Emission Transport<br />

Fund, is being fitted out in the co-op’s<br />

Morrinsville tanker depot and is due to<br />

hit the road in early May. It has a range<br />

of about 140km on a full charge, can<br />

carry 25,700 litres of milk, and uses a cab<br />

and chassis from Chinese construction<br />

machinery group XCMG.<br />

It will take about three hours to charge,<br />

and Fonterra will operate it on a battery<br />

swap system so it doesn’t sit idle while<br />

charging. The team will be able to swap<br />

the battery out in about six minutes.<br />

Fonterra hopes the trial will give it a<br />

clearer picture of the future of electric milk<br />

collection and rural heavy transport as<br />

the carbon transition takes place.​Factors<br />

being assessed include how far it can go,<br />

how easy it is to charge, milk collection,<br />

maintenance, efficiency, cost, and driver<br />

com<strong>for</strong>t and safety.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 19

USA<br />

REI relaunches membership programme,<br />

while workers vote to unionise<br />

US-based speciality outdoor retailer REI<br />

Co-op is relaunching its membership<br />

programme, including new lifetime<br />

benefits that “make it easier <strong>for</strong> members<br />

to engage with the organisation”.<br />

In the first major update to membership<br />

in its 84-year history, the co-operative says<br />

it is making it easier <strong>for</strong> members to “make<br />

the most of every experience outside and<br />

be part of a community that supports a<br />

new outdoor culture”.<br />

“REI was founded in 1938 by 23 friends<br />

who shared the belief that a co-operative<br />

enabled a more rewarding outdoor life,”<br />

says Vivienne Long, REI senior vice<br />

president and chief marketing officer.<br />

“Some of the new benefits <strong>for</strong> members<br />

include free shipping within the US,<br />

a 20% discount <strong>for</strong> bike and snow<br />

gear servicing (tyre repairs and ski/<br />

snowboarding machine wax service are<br />

free), member-only used gear offerings<br />

and new collections that will include a<br />

“curated set of products just <strong>for</strong> members<br />

that will launch each month, such as<br />

brand collaborations, limited editions,<br />

early access and special offers”.<br />

Alongside this, members receive an<br />

annual return through Co-op Member<br />

Rewards (typically 10% of eligible<br />

purchases each calendar year) and<br />

discounts on equipment and activities.<br />

Members can also participate in REI<br />

Conversations, an online community.<br />

For each member joining the co-op,<br />

REI plans to donate US$5 to the REI<br />

Cooperative Action Fund, a communitysupported<br />

public charity introduced in<br />

2021 “to harness the collective power<br />

of the co-op’s members and employees<br />

to build a more equitable and inclusive<br />

outdoor community”.<br />

The Fund supports organisations<br />

that are focused on connecting people,<br />

creating space and centring health<br />

outside. REI expects to donate more<br />

than $7m (£5.2m) to the Fund over the<br />

next 12 months through the membership<br />

program. In 2021, the Fund invested $1m<br />

(£750,000) in 19 organisations. Today, REI<br />

has 20 million lifetime members, with<br />

plans to grow to a 50-million-member<br />

community by 2030. It has 174 locations in<br />

41 states and the District of Columbia.<br />

In March, workers at the organisation<br />

have also voted to join the Retail,<br />

Wholesale and Department Store Union<br />

(RWDSU), creating the only union at the<br />

outdoor-equipment and apparel retailer<br />

The vote, on 2 March, was conducted<br />

by the National Labor Relations Board,<br />

and came out 88 to 14 in favour of<br />

unionisation.<br />

“The workers of REI are ready to<br />

negotiate a strong contract that will allow<br />

them to uphold the co-op’s progressive<br />

values while providing the top-notch<br />

service REI customers have come to<br />

expect,” said a statement from Stuart<br />

Appelbaum, president of the Retail,<br />

Wholesale and Department Store Union,<br />

which helped organise the workers.<br />

KENYA<br />

Coffee co-ops cut out the middle man with Korean deal<br />

Co-op coffee farmers in Kenya have made<br />

their first direct export to South Korea,<br />

marking the start of better revenues.<br />

Kipkelion District Cooperative Union<br />

(KDCU), an umbrella of 64 primary coffee<br />

co-operatives, flagged off a consignment<br />

of 134.4 tonnes of coffee beans to South<br />

Korea in February. This is the first time<br />

the farmers have been able to sell directly<br />

to their buyers without going through<br />

independent brokers, or taking their<br />

product to auction.<br />

The governor of Kericho County Paul<br />

Chepkwony described the flagging off<br />

ceremony that took place in Nairobi as<br />

a defining moment <strong>for</strong> Kenyan coffee<br />

farmers, Capital Business reported. Mr<br />

Chepkwony encouraged more farmers<br />

to cut out the middlemen in selling their<br />

coffee <strong>for</strong> a better price.<br />

The sale, valued at US$908,160<br />

(KES103.21m; £667,520) will go to 9,582<br />

co-op members from the Kericho, Nandi<br />

and Bomet counties at an estimated<br />

rate of KES 100 per kilo (65p). KDCU says<br />

that if sold through the Nairobi Coffee<br />

Exchange (NCE), the coffee would have<br />

earned farmers a maximum of KES 50<br />

per kilo.<br />

KDCU recently set up a brokerage firm<br />

to market their coffee, following re<strong>for</strong>ms<br />

in 2020 which allowed coffee farmers to<br />

directly sell their produce; previously they<br />

had no option other than to go through<br />

independent brokers.<br />

The deal made between KDCU and<br />

South Korean company Good Beans was<br />

made last July, following a four-day Coffee<br />

Expo held in Seoul, at which Kenya was<br />

the guest country. The event facilitated<br />

conversations between a number of coffee<br />

co-ops and South Korean importers.<br />

KDCU’s CEO, Festus Bett, told Co-op<br />

News that the direct sale to Good Beans<br />

means that KDCU will now be able to get<br />

more primary co-operatives on board,<br />

to export more coffee to Korea and other<br />

markets, <strong>for</strong> the best prices.<br />

“Our production will go upwards<br />

as farmers are motivated to do coffee<br />

farming. We now have tea and cane<br />

farmers inquiring about coffee farming”,<br />

he said.<br />

He added that other co-ops are planning<br />

to follow KDCU’s lead and begin to sell<br />

directly to buyers. “Most will engage the<br />

buyers directly as the farmers will have<br />

control over the prices. In fact, there are<br />

already six more coffee unions from eight<br />

counties who are going to export directly.”<br />

20 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>


Agricultural co‐operatives are on the rise in Romania<br />

The number of agricultural co‐operatives<br />

continues to grow in Romania, where 787<br />

co‐ops were set up in 2021 alone.<br />

According to a report by Ziarul Financiar,<br />

the country is home to 4,041 agricultural<br />

co‐operatives, more than in 1989 when<br />

3,172 agricultural co‐operatives covered a<br />

joint total of 8.9 million hectares, almost<br />

the country’s entire agricultural land.<br />

Back then agricultural co‐operatives<br />

were a product of <strong>for</strong>ced collectivisation.<br />

Nowadays producers are free to choose<br />

whether they want to <strong>for</strong>m co‐operatives<br />

or not. Advantages include being able to<br />

achieve scale, invest in new technology<br />

and cut costs.<br />

Another benefit is being able to access<br />

European funding <strong>for</strong> rural development.<br />

The Agency <strong>for</strong> Funding Rural Investments<br />

(Agentia pentru Finantarea Investitiilor<br />

Rurale, AFIR) can fund up to 90% of<br />

a project submitted by a co‐op or an<br />

association of producers, as opposed<br />

to the 70% usually allocated to other<br />

initiatives.<br />

According to data released by AFIR,<br />

in the first eight months of 2020, 18<br />

agricultural co‐ops attracted LEI 38m<br />

(£6.45m) in European funding <strong>for</strong><br />

investments in expanding the business<br />

and processing or storage.<br />

AFIR also encourages co‐operation<br />

within the agri‐food supply chain,<br />

both between two or more actual or<br />

potential competitors and between<br />

businesses operating at different<br />

levels of the production or distribution<br />

chain, including public authorities and<br />

institutions. In 2021 AFIR announced it<br />

was making €230m (£190m) available <strong>for</strong><br />

young farmers, small farmers and projects<br />

aimed at increasing co‐operation within<br />

the sector, including projects involving<br />

co‐operatives.<br />

“I will say again and again that the<br />

association of producers is perhaps the<br />

only way in which they can increase<br />

their productivity and competitiveness<br />

in a world dominated by big producers,<br />

big processors and big business chains,”<br />

said Florentin Bercu, executive manager<br />

of the National Union of Vegetable<br />

Co‐operatives (UNCSV). “And this is an<br />

indisputable truth. There<strong>for</strong>e, be<strong>for</strong>e<br />

talking about the benefits [of setting up<br />

p Romania has an agricultural capacity of approximately 14.7 million hectares, of which only 10<br />

million are used as arable land (Photo: iStock, GRECLAURENTIU)<br />

co‐ops], I consider that the association<br />

is a necessity to resist in Romanian<br />

agriculture.”<br />

He added: “The growing trend in the<br />

number of co‐operatives is a natural one<br />

based on the ef<strong>for</strong>ts we have made and<br />

continue to make to guide farmers to<br />

join. We introduce the Romanian farmers<br />

to co‐operative models from countries<br />

that have managed unquestionable<br />

per<strong>for</strong>mances in the development and<br />

capitalisation of co‐operatives.<br />

“I am referring here to countries like<br />

France, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Spain,<br />

England, countries from which we are<br />

constantly learning and with which we<br />

exchange experiences that allow our<br />

farmers to see that it is possible.”<br />

UNCSV is a member of Copa‐Cogeca, the<br />

European voice of farmers and agricultural<br />

co‐ops, and has recently produced a guide<br />

to successful co‐operatives through which<br />

it engages with co‐operatives from other<br />

European countries.<br />

“Our Guide to Successful Cooperatives<br />

was created to help newly established<br />

or up to three‐year‐old co‐operatives<br />

that need mentoring to stabilise,” said<br />

Mr Bercu. He explained that while more<br />

co‐operatives are being set up in Romania,<br />

their profitability and sustainability<br />

threshold is low, something his union is<br />

trying to address.<br />

“Only 45% of these co‐operatives are<br />

over five years old, almost 20% made a<br />

profit. Here, in fact, begins our mission<br />

to guide them to grow harmoniously,”<br />

he added.<br />

In recent years a number of food<br />

retailers have set up co‐ops to source<br />

food from local producers. In 2017<br />

Carrefour, the second biggest retailer in<br />

Romania, founded an agricultural co‐op<br />

in the village of Varasti, which now<br />

supplies it with fruit and veg. The co‐op<br />

enables farmers in the village to scale up<br />

production and have a single collection<br />

centre. Similarly, in 2021, Kaufland<br />

Romania announced a partnership with<br />

the co‐op Cooperativa Tara Mea, under<br />

which it guarantees buying from the co‐op<br />

as well as support it to diversify its range<br />

of products.<br />

Romania is currently working on a<br />

National Strategic Plan <strong>for</strong> 2021‐2027<br />

within the framework of the EU’s Common<br />

Agricultural Policy. It is expected that the<br />

new plan will place a strong emphasis<br />

on associative structures, including<br />

co‐operatives.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 21

USA<br />

Brazos Electric goes to mediation over $2bn storm power bill<br />

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative,<br />

the Texas electric co-op <strong>for</strong>ced into<br />

bankruptcy after last year’s storms left<br />

it with a US$2bn wholesale power bill,<br />

has agreed to go to mediation in its legal<br />

dispute with the state grid operator.<br />

The ice storm of February 2021 knocked<br />

out half of Texas’ power supply and sent<br />

wholesale electricity prices soaring to<br />

$9,000 (£6800) per megawatt-hour –<br />

compared with pre-storm prices of less<br />

than $50 per megawatt hour.<br />

Brazos, the state’s oldest and largest<br />

electric co-op, filed <strong>for</strong> chapter 11<br />

bankruptcy in March 2021 to protect its<br />

members from the $2bn (£1.53bn) bill<br />

and has taken state grid operator ERCOT<br />

(Electric Reliability Council of Texas) to<br />

court, contesting the sum.<br />

It accused ERCOT of violating the terms<br />

of their contract when it levied the peak<br />

$9,000 charge <strong>for</strong> much of the storm, which<br />

lasted <strong>for</strong> a week. The co-op has asked US<br />

bankruptcy judge David Jones, in Houston,<br />

to drastically reduce ERCOT’s claim.<br />

Brazos, which had another $2bn<br />

in funded debt at the time it filed <strong>for</strong><br />

bankruptcy, says the amount it owes<br />

ERCOT is closer to $770m (£580m). It adds<br />

that it cannot draw up a reorganisation<br />

plan until a final settlement amount is<br />

decided. The case has gone to mediation<br />

after judge Jones said both parties should<br />

“sit in a room and understand what the<br />

options are”.<br />


Social economy<br />

project provides €1.3m<br />

to real estate co-op<br />

Three social and solidarity economy<br />

organisations are co-financing a real<br />

estate co-op in the Wallonia region of<br />

Belgium.<br />

NewB, a co-op bank set up in 2019,<br />

joined up with F’in Common, a sustainable<br />

finance co-op, and W.ALTER, a public<br />

sector body financing social and cooperative<br />

economy projects in Wallonia.<br />

Together, the three organisations<br />

granted the Les Tournières co-op, based<br />

in Liège, a first line of credit of more than<br />

€1.3m (£1.08m). The funding enabled the<br />

co-op to acquire a building in the Saint-<br />

Léonard district of Liège, which will house<br />

ASBL Infirmiers de rue, a charity that<br />

provides free medical care to homeless<br />

people and Thaïs, an association offering<br />

emergency accommodation to women<br />

victims of domestic violence.<br />

The project was developed in response<br />

to a call <strong>for</strong> social economy projects to<br />

help real estate co-ops acquire private<br />

housing in Wallonia <strong>for</strong> women victims<br />

of domestic violence. The call <strong>for</strong> projects<br />

was launched by the Minister of Social<br />

Economy, Social Action and Women’s<br />

Rights, Christie Morreale, and aims to<br />

create 102 new such housing units in<br />

Wallonia by the end of <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Charlaine Provost, general manager of<br />

F’in Common, said: “solidarity finance<br />

and the social economy are a unique<br />

opportunity to leave behind the excesses of<br />

traditional finance. We are proud to unite<br />

with such partners to help strengthen this<br />

ecosystem.”<br />

The funding represents the very first<br />

loan allocated by NewB, which is made<br />

up of 116,000 co-operators, 351 civil<br />

society organisations and 11 institutional<br />

investors.<br />

22 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

INDIA<br />

Reserve bank fines<br />

eight co-op banks <strong>for</strong><br />

breaching regulations<br />

Eight co-operative banks have been fined<br />

by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) <strong>for</strong><br />

various regulatory violations.<br />

Nabapalli Cooperative Bank in<br />

Barasat, West Bengal: Rs 4 lakh (£4,020)<br />

<strong>for</strong> not adhering to prudential interbank<br />

(gross) exposure limit and or the<br />

prudential inter-bank counterparty limit.<br />

Faiz Mercantile Co-operative Bank,<br />

Nasik, Maharashtra: Rs 25,000 (£251) <strong>for</strong><br />

granting a loan to a relative of a director.<br />

Amravati Merchants’ Co-operative<br />

Ban: Rs 50,000 (£502) <strong>for</strong> delayed<br />

reporting of fraud.<br />

Manipur Women’s Cooperative Bank<br />

in Paona Bazar, Imphal, Manipur: Rs<br />

2.00 lakh (£2,010) <strong>for</strong> not adhering to the<br />

prudential inter-bank (Gross) exposure<br />

limit or the prudential inter-bank Counter<br />

Party limit.<br />

United India Co-operative Bank in<br />

Nagina, UP: Rs 1.00 lakh (£1,005) <strong>for</strong><br />

sanctioning an unsecured housing loan<br />

to a director and failing to adhere to the<br />

requirement of submission of return on<br />

connected lending.<br />

Baghat Urban Co-operative Bank<br />

Limited, Solan, HP: Rs 3.00 lakh (£3,015)<br />

<strong>for</strong> its violation of specific directions<br />

issued under the Supervisory Action<br />

Framework (SAF).<br />

Navnirman Co-operative Bank,<br />

Ahmedabad (Gujarat): Rs 1.00 lakh<br />

(£1,005) <strong>for</strong> sanctioning a loan to a relative<br />

of a director, and granting loans where<br />

relatives of directors stood surety.<br />

Jila Sahakari Kendriya Bank in<br />

Maryadit, Narsinghpur: Rs 1.00 lakh<br />

(£1,005) <strong>for</strong> failing to transfer eligible<br />

unclaimed deposits to the Depositor<br />

Education and Awareness Fund in<br />

contravention of/ non-compliance with<br />

the law.<br />

Dutch supermarket chain Plus orders electronic shelf labels<br />

Dutch co-operative supermarket chain<br />

Plus is equipping 80 of its stores with<br />

electronic shelf labels from Swedish tech<br />

company Pricer. The electronic shelf<br />

labels (ESL) allow stores to add realtime<br />

flash functionality to the shelves<br />

and are used in inventory processes and<br />

stock management.<br />

Co-ops to be listed on UAE financial markets<br />

The government of the UAE has approved<br />

a new law allowing the listing of<br />

co-operative associations on financial<br />

markets. The move will “attract strategic<br />

partners and introduce new <strong>for</strong>ms such as<br />

digital and financial co-ops”, said Sheikh<br />

Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president<br />

and ruler of Dubai.<br />

Black farm co-ops in US go to court <strong>for</strong> debt relief<br />

Organic Valley invites small family farms into co-op<br />

US farm co-op Organic Valley has invited<br />

80 family farms to join after they lost<br />

their supply contracts. The Wisconsinbased<br />

co-op says the move is the “single<br />

largest ef<strong>for</strong>t to save small organic family<br />

farms” in the north-eastern states of the<br />

US. It follows news last year that Horizon<br />

and Maple Hill Creamery is terminating<br />

contracts with more than 130 family farms.<br />

Moroccan fishing co-ops adapt to climate change<br />

Photo: UN Women/Mediating)<br />

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives,<br />

which represents Black farm co-ops in<br />

southern USA, went to court in Texas<br />

in February over debt relief. They want<br />

the right to present their voice in a case<br />

against a blocking action that is holding<br />

back billions of dollars in federal debt<br />

relief. The result is pending.<br />

A women’s fishing co-op in Morocco has<br />

received help from a UN programme to<br />

develop climate-resilient fishing practices.<br />

Moroccan fishing practices which have<br />

been passed down the generations are<br />

under threat from climate disruption<br />

to marine ecosystems. This has led<br />

organisations such as the Mahar Assahel<br />

Cooperative – set up in 2019 to support<br />

fisherwomen in Tiguert, near Agadir – to<br />

look at adapting the way they work.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 23


REI relaunches membership<br />

programme<br />

Same REI which is trying to prevent their<br />

workers from unionising. [Although this<br />

has now gone ahead: p20.) Relaunching<br />

your membership programmes to improve<br />

your PR image is more important than<br />

workers having a right to organise,<br />

apparently.<br />

Sean Farmelo<br />

via Facebook<br />

Lincolnshire Co-op CEO<br />

Ursula Lidbetter to retire<br />

Ursula is the last of the specially<br />

trained co-op chief executives (page<br />

14). Trained by the Co-op College to run<br />

retail consumer co-ops as memberowned<br />

and controlled co-operatives. It<br />

was once almost mandatory to<br />

have the qualification to be<br />

considered <strong>for</strong> senior management<br />

positions. The training scheme was<br />

wound up long ago. Most senior<br />

executives now were trained at normal<br />

business schools which have no co-op<br />

culture whatsoever.<br />

Bob Cannell<br />

via Facebook<br />

It should be noted that Ursula<br />

was previously an undergraduate<br />

in Operational Sciences and<br />

Management at Hull University be<strong>for</strong>e<br />

she attended the Co-operative College.<br />

If I recall correctly Ursula attended the<br />

Management Training Scheme at the Cooperative<br />

College which was designed<br />

specifically <strong>for</strong> graduates or <strong>for</strong> those<br />

worthy applicants sponsored by cooperative<br />

societies. Robert Marshall,<br />

the college Principal, and Bill<br />

Shearer, the course tutor, were<br />

excellent teachers, not only in co-op<br />

but also in management. They were able<br />

not only to see the many failings in the<br />

operations of co-operative societies but<br />

also the potential within them.<br />

Brian Taylor<br />

via Facebook<br />

Like Graham Melmoth, Ursula was the<br />

Secretary of her Society be<strong>for</strong>e becoming<br />

CEO, and so had a thorough understanding<br />

of the importance of membership. I think<br />

she was also the first female CEO of a<br />

major society.<br />

Martin Meteyard<br />

via Facebook<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our<br />

stories online at thenews.<br />

coop, get in touch via social<br />

media, or send us a letter.<br />

If sending a letter, please<br />

include your address and<br />

contact number. Letters may<br />

be edited and no longer than<br />

350 words.<br />

Preston Council transfers<br />

Travellers’ site to co-op<br />

Travellers and Roma face discrimination<br />

and racism every day (page 15). I really<br />

hope this is all good and the Travellers<br />

organisations are fully behind this<br />

development. They are treated appallingly<br />

by councils up and down the country.<br />

Niall Mulholland<br />

via Facebook<br />

A long struggle but it’s happened. Praise<br />

<strong>for</strong> the residents and the committed/<br />

determined support group.<br />

Gareth Nash<br />

via Facebook<br />

SWIFT action from bankers’<br />

co-op on Russia<br />

SWIFT functions as much as co-op as IMF.<br />

Co-operative News, Holyoake<br />

House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.coop<br />

@coopnews<br />

Co-operative News

Several private banks created their own<br />

private venture as an alternative to the<br />

public LIBOR rate, and their paid services<br />

are open to the other clients.<br />

Private co-ops are the opposite of<br />

workers run and workers owned coops.<br />

Libor Von Schonau<br />

via Facebook<br />

Libor Von Schonau It is true. But if SWIFT<br />

was owned only one person the result<br />

could be different. The team is more<br />

resistant to undemocratic decisions.<br />

Zuzana Fabianová Lukácová<br />

via Facebook<br />

So was it the SWIFT exec that decided t<br />

kick out Russia or was it imposed on them?<br />

Joe Baker<br />


Joe Russo<br />

1984 – <strong>2022</strong><br />

Jim Lee, <strong>for</strong>mer chair of the Co-op Party<br />

(1996 – 2001), remembers Joe Russo,<br />

a tireless worker <strong>for</strong> the Co-op Party in<br />

Scotland.<br />

Many young co-operators, and some of<br />

us who are not so young, were shocked<br />

to hear of the death of Joe Russo at the<br />

tragically early age of 38.<br />

Joe was a strong character who<br />

touched the hearts of many co-operators<br />

during his time in the movement.<br />

His focus on young people and his<br />

determination to introduce them to the<br />

values and principles of the co-operative<br />

business model brought many people of<br />

his generation into the Movement.<br />

I first met Joe when he appeared at a<br />

Co-op Party Summerfest in St Andrews<br />

when he was in his early twenties.<br />

Despite his youth, he was already the<br />

manager of a small credit union in south<br />

Ayrshire and spoke with great authority<br />

about the challenges facing a community<br />

credit union serving a post-industrial<br />

community. His grasp of the intricacies<br />

of managing a credit union, and the no<br />

nonsense approach he portrayed, would<br />

give you the impression that he had<br />

been doing the job <strong>for</strong> decades rather<br />

than a couple of years.<br />

Having become active in the Co-op<br />

Party, Joe went on to work <strong>for</strong> the Party<br />

concentrating on its youth strategy.<br />

When Joe started working <strong>for</strong> the party,<br />

you could count the number of young<br />

members on one hand. By the time he<br />

had moved on, it counted thousands of<br />

young people in its membership. This<br />

remains the case and is Joe’s greatest<br />

legacy <strong>for</strong> the Party and the movement.<br />

Joe was supposed to work in the London<br />

office but resisted that vehemently<br />

and under great pressure from people<br />

who hadn’t realised the world had<br />

changed. Instead, he worked out of the<br />

Co-op Group’s Glasgow office. With the<br />

addition of Joe, there were eight of us<br />

in the room but only seven desks. The<br />

charm he used to ensure he was never<br />

without a desk endeared him to all of us.<br />

Joe quite rightly argued that in the<br />

modern world you can work from<br />

anywhere. While the rest of us spent<br />

hours preparing mailings, Joe sat in<br />

the corner appearing to play computer<br />

games. Those of us who were only<br />

beginning to appreciate the wonders of<br />

the internet slowly realised that there<br />

was something called social media and<br />

Joe was using this to communicate and<br />

campaign. The proof of his success was<br />

when, at the first Summerfest after he<br />

began to work <strong>for</strong> the Party, dozens of<br />

young people appeared to hear about<br />

the Co-operative Movement, reducing<br />

the average age of Summerfest attendees<br />

by around 40 years.<br />

Joe’s father is American and Joe held<br />

dual British and American citizenship.<br />

He spent a great deal of time in the<br />

United States and knew the country<br />

very well. He also spent some time in<br />

Germany and spoke fluent German.<br />

His language skills were so good that<br />

he was accepted <strong>for</strong> a PhD in German<br />

language at Glasgow University after he<br />

ceased working <strong>for</strong> the Party and went<br />

on to teach German at the university.<br />

In the summertime, he augmented his<br />

income by acting as a representative<br />

<strong>for</strong> a German tour company. One of the<br />

last times I met Joe be<strong>for</strong>e the pandemic<br />

was when I bumped into him by chance<br />

in the Scottish Highlands rounding<br />

up a group of elderly German tourists,<br />

prompting them, in what seemed like<br />

perfect German, to get back on the<br />

coach.<br />

Joe had so much more to give and<br />

those of us who knew him well mourn<br />

his passing and the fact that life’s<br />

journey came to such an abrupt end<br />

<strong>for</strong> such a brilliant young man. He will<br />

always remain in our hearts.<br />

Joe Fortune, general secretary of the<br />

Co-op Party, adds: “It was with shock<br />

and sadness that we learnt that Joe had<br />

passed on. Joe was a <strong>for</strong>mer member of<br />

Co-operative Party staff, and he worked<br />

hard to ensure there was a growing<br />

voice <strong>for</strong> younger members in the Party.<br />

He bought great passion and fun to his<br />

work, and was a real advocate <strong>for</strong> the cooperative<br />

and credit union movements.<br />

“I worked with Joe and I know that his<br />

<strong>for</strong>mer colleagues from those years will<br />

have happy memories of their work with<br />

him, and, of course, our thoughts will be<br />

with his friends and family.”<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 25

<strong>2022</strong> Co-operative<br />

Retail Conference<br />

ON 11-13 MARCH, LEADERS,<br />









Rebecca Harvey<br />

and Alice Toomer-<br />

McAlpine<br />

p Rhian Thomas,<br />

head of shopper<br />

insight at the<br />

Institute of Grocery<br />

Distribution (IGD)<br />


“The retail landscape has changed rapidly<br />

over recent years” said Rhian Thomas, head<br />

of shopper insight at the Institute of Grocery<br />

Distribution (IGD), sharing key insights and<br />

predictions at the opening session of the<br />

Co-operative Retail Conference. “We have<br />

seen changes in weeks and months that would<br />

normally take years.”<br />

Ms Thomas said that while some shopper<br />

behaviours have returned to pre-Covid levels,<br />

other changes may be permanent – such as more<br />

time spent on meal planning (and there<strong>for</strong>e<br />

fewer impulse purchases). People are shopping<br />

around <strong>for</strong> the best grocery deals and two thirds<br />

of those surveyed by IGD said they were cutting<br />

down on out of home spending, such as dining<br />

out, creating opportunities <strong>for</strong> retailers to offer<br />

‘dine-in’ alternatives. There is also likely to be<br />

a division in how shoppers are coming out of<br />

Covid-19, she said, with a stark rise in meal<br />

skipping seen in families with children.<br />

When it comes to sustainability, IGD has<br />

identified a heightened awareness from shoppers<br />

of food waste, which Ms Thomas believes is a<br />

result of people spending more time eating at<br />

home during the pandemic and there<strong>for</strong>e seeing<br />

how much food gets thrown into their own bins.<br />

IGD’s research has identified that around a third<br />

of shoppers want to do more to reduce their<br />

impact on the environment, but don’t know what<br />

they should do, and want guidance from their<br />

retailers; Ms Thomas said that one growing area<br />

of interest <strong>for</strong> IGD is environmental labelling.<br />

Changes in technology, such as ‘just walk out’<br />

tech used by the likes of Amazon Go, and facial<br />

recognition, which is starting to be used in retail<br />

in countries such as China, were also discussed.<br />

Considering how co-ops might make the most of<br />

this innovation whilst being mindful of ethical<br />

values around privacy and data ownership is<br />

likely to be an ongoing conversation <strong>for</strong> co-ops.<br />



Also presenting analysis at the event was<br />

Professor Jonathan Reynolds from the Saïd<br />

Business School at the University of Ox<strong>for</strong>d.<br />

He explored the challenges and opportunities<br />

<strong>for</strong> co-ops – particularly around the economy,<br />

technology and place.<br />

He highlighted how the legacies of Covid,<br />

Brexit and the war in Ukraine each contributed<br />

to the accumulating impacts of inflation,<br />

disrupting supply chains and increasing energy<br />

costs – in turn impacting businesses, the labour<br />

26 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

market and the ability of consumers to reach<br />

those businesses and trade with them.<br />

“Nobody has had a good pandemic either<br />

from a trading or a human point of view,” he<br />

said, but added that the impacts will be different<br />

depending on where a business is in relation to<br />

consumers and channels.<br />

He believes there are also lessons to be<br />

learned, particularly around online trading<br />

and the role of technology, and he echoed Ms<br />

Thomas’ assessment of the rapid advances in<br />

e-commerce during the pandemic.<br />

“Retailing has always been driven in part<br />

by technological change … but look around<br />

the world, there are places where the future is<br />

already happening,” Prof Reynolds said, citing<br />

some of the advanced AI, VR and volumetric<br />

telepresence (holographic) capabilities being<br />

tested to resolve different customer problems,<br />

from queuing to sustainability and food waste.<br />

In most places, though, the focus is on “finding<br />

a way of reviving communities who have been<br />

badly affected by Covid” and looking at how to<br />

reimagine retail in this new economic reality.<br />

“Post-pandemic there’s been a redistribution<br />

of demand, which is not economic from a<br />

commercial point of view – but there’s a social<br />

angle to this which is really important, and<br />

which co-operatives can address.”<br />



The sixth co-operative principle (co-operation<br />

among co-ops) is a key part of the co-operative<br />

movement, and yet UK law is not set up to<br />

support this way of working. This is particularly<br />

evident when looking at competition law, which<br />

creates a difficult environment <strong>for</strong> retail coops<br />

wishing to work together. Aaron Stewart<br />

(VME Coop) and Linda Barlow (Co-operatives<br />

UK) spoke about the newly <strong>for</strong>med Co-op Law<br />

Association (CLA) and how, when it comes to<br />

co-operatives working together, competition law<br />

risk may require a pause, but doesn’t need to be<br />

a full stop.<br />

Competition law exists to try to maintain an<br />

even playing field among businesses: though<br />

it is important <strong>for</strong> co-ops to be mindful of<br />

competition law, “we shouldn’t let fear paralyse<br />

us”, said Mr Stewart, adding that there are<br />

ways co-ops can practise principle 6 without<br />

contravening competition law.<br />

This includes contributing staff time to other<br />

co-ops through volunteer days that would<br />

normally be spent at charities, or making it a<br />

policy to actively seek co-operative suppliers.<br />





The idea of co-ops lobbying the government<br />

<strong>for</strong> changes to the law which may be more<br />

accommodating <strong>for</strong> the way co-ops work was<br />

also raised, receiving a warm response from a<br />

number of people in the room.<br />

Competition law is just one issue co-ops have<br />

to deal with that could benefit from a dedicated<br />

space <strong>for</strong> legal practitioners. Because of this,<br />

the aim of CLA is to be a place “where lawyers<br />

and practitioners working in co-ops can come<br />

together to bounce ideas around, especially<br />

where the law doesn’t quite fit with the way<br />

co-ops operate and govern themselves”, said<br />

Ms Barlow.<br />


Ahead of the Retail Conference, Co-operatives<br />

UK unveiled its new branding and strategy,<br />

and a new aim: By inspiring everyone to be a<br />

member of a co-op, and every co-op to be one<br />

of our members, we will help create a fairer<br />

society together.<br />

Alongside a new logo, the co-op marque is<br />

now being used by the organisation in a badge<br />

to help build a national movement. Continuing<br />

the conversation on ‘Building a movement’,<br />

delegates heard from a number of co-op leaders.<br />

At Lincolnshire, CEO Ursula Lidbetter found<br />

herself being asked why a shop selling milk and<br />

groceries is also building a science park. u<br />

p Aaron Stewart<br />

(VME Coop) and<br />

Linda Barlow<br />

(Co-operatives UK)<br />

spoke about the newly<br />

<strong>for</strong>med Co-op Law<br />

Association (CLA)<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 27

p From left: Don<br />

Morris (Radstock<br />

CEO and CUK<br />

chair), Denise<br />

Scott-McDonald<br />

(Co-op Group NMP<br />

president), Rose<br />

Marley (CUK CEO),<br />

Phil Ponsonby<br />

(Midcounties<br />

Group CEO) and<br />

Ursula Lidbetter<br />

(Lincolnshire CEO)<br />

discuss building<br />

the co-operative<br />

movement<br />

u Debbie Robinson<br />

(Central England<br />

CEO) and Ewan<br />

Vinnicombe-Wallis on<br />

youth engagement<br />

“I could have a 15-minute talk with that person<br />

– and great, they might get it,” she said. “But<br />

my colleagues on the checkout don’t have 15<br />

minutes to explain what the co-op is to people<br />

who might be interested. How can we boil it<br />

down so it’s in the language of someone who is<br />

in our communities, not in co-ops?”<br />

The result at Lincolnshire is a new purpose:<br />

to bring together ideas, energy and resources to<br />

make life better in our communities. “It doesn’t<br />

say co-op, but it explains what a co-op does.”<br />

Lincolnshire has strong roots in the region<br />

and collaborates with local businesses and<br />

institutions. “Co-operation has to happen<br />

because people want and need to come<br />

together,” says Ms Lidbetter. “You need to start<br />

with the urgent need and collaborate in the<br />

right structure to add power to addressing that<br />

need. It’s about bringing people together with a<br />

philosophy of co-operative ef<strong>for</strong>t. By doing that,<br />

you can make a massive change in the world.”<br />

Midcounties CEO Phil Ponsonby believes<br />

that embracing a wider co-operative ecosystem<br />

is a vital part of building co-operation: “It’s<br />

partly about will and desire. We need to think<br />

braver, be a bit more humble and acknowledge<br />

that biggest isn’t always best. We also need to<br />

embrace technology and fix the problem of not<br />

being able to use member cards in other co-ops.”<br />

At Midcounties, the long-term ambition is to<br />

be a member-first organisation. “In reality, most<br />

of a retail co-op’s transactions are with nonmembers,”<br />

he said. “We want to change that.<br />

We’re there with energy and childcare, but not<br />

with food yet.” Alongside this, he adds, there is<br />

space <strong>for</strong> the movement to grow by co-ops being<br />

‘trusted brokers’ <strong>for</strong> goods and services from<br />

other co-ops.<br />

“We’re all trying to recruit members to be part<br />

of our co-op, but what we should be saying is ‘if<br />

you join our co-op, you’re also becoming part of<br />

a co-op movement’.”<br />

For Don Morris (CEO at Radstock and chair of<br />

Co-operatives UK), awareness and collaboration<br />

are key. “Members of Co-operatives UK have<br />

access to services and advice – that’s vital to a<br />

small business,” he said.<br />

Similarly, at Radstock, there is a strong<br />

local presence and good relationships with<br />

local suppliers, but the connection to [coop<br />

buying group] FRTS and other societies<br />

are very important. “We’re part of something<br />

bigger; sometimes we have gone to our larger<br />

neighbours, asking advice from those who have<br />

been there and done what we are trying to do<br />

and have been inspired,” he said, adding that<br />

co-operation among co-operatives is critical <strong>for</strong><br />

building a strong movement together.<br />

Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald was elected<br />

president of the Co-op Group’s National Members<br />

Council in 2021, and also serves as the deputy<br />

leader of Greenwich Council. “Education is so<br />

important to the co-op movement,” she said,<br />

highlighting the Co-op Group’s activity around<br />

co-operative member education, training and<br />

in<strong>for</strong>mation (CMETI). “Ordinary people can<br />

do extraordinary things in a co-op, but it’s a<br />

question of how we have all those conversations<br />

in the first place.”<br />



Former Blue Peter producer, Ewan Vinnicombe-<br />

Wallis, shared insights into how he breathed new<br />

life into the Blue Peter Badge scheme through<br />

competitions and campaigns. He described the<br />

excitement he felt as a child receiving a badge<br />

and a letter, and how he wanted to recreate that<br />

experience <strong>for</strong> his young audiences.<br />

Despite being in an increasingly digital age, Mr<br />

Vinnicombe-Wallis saw the value of the personal<br />

touch a paper letter can bring and during his<br />

time at Blue Peter increased the amount of<br />

physical post the show received.<br />

28 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>






Central England Co-operative CEO Debbie<br />

Robinson also shared experiences of working in<br />

the community with children and their families,<br />

including a community garden, art projects<br />

and outdoor events. Central England runs over<br />

500 community events every year, which Ms<br />

Robinson highlighted as a key part of getting<br />

young people and families to build a relationship<br />

with the stores and the society as a whole.<br />

Mr Vinnicombe-Wallis stressed that coops<br />

don’t need to be shy about blowing their<br />

own trumpet: “Communicate your great<br />

achievements – you’re not bragging, you’re just<br />

telling people about it, and then other people<br />

brag.”<br />


Russell Gill, head of community delivery at<br />

the Co-op Group, shared how the organisation<br />

is working with other employers to bring<br />

together funding to support thousands of<br />

apprenticeships.<br />

“It’s a real co-operative success story coming<br />

as a result of trying to solve a real-world<br />

problem,” he said. “It fundamentally gives more<br />

opportunities <strong>for</strong> young people and underrepresented<br />

people in the work<strong>for</strong>ce.”<br />

The Apprenticeship Levy is an amount paid at<br />

a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill if<br />

that bill is more than £3m. Employers can spend<br />

the levy on apprentice training and end-point<br />

assessment – but must do so within two years.<br />

The Co-op Levy Share Initiative brings together<br />

pledges of otherwise expired levy contributions<br />

from donating employers and matches them to<br />

suitable requests, with a specific focus on underrepresentation.<br />

A criterion of the scheme is that<br />

any employer has to be paying the national<br />

living wage.<br />

So far, the scheme has attracted pledges of<br />

£9.75m from 34 organisations, with 503 matched<br />

apprenticeship opportunities.<br />

“The organisations participating are a real<br />

mix,” adds Mr Gill. “We’ve got support from the<br />

mutual sector, from the public sector, from major<br />

corporates and co-operatives: an effective bunch<br />

of employees all recognising that we can all play<br />

our part by co-operating and working together<br />

to provide opportunities <strong>for</strong> young people to<br />

participate.”<br />


In the final session of the day, Co-operative Party<br />

general secretary, Joe Fortune, highlighted how<br />

the organisation campaigned co-operatively<br />

<strong>for</strong> the greater protection of retail workers. “We<br />

were motivated to see what we could do to bring<br />

change to an awful set of circumstances. It really<br />

was a collective ef<strong>for</strong>t that the co-operative<br />

movement came together <strong>for</strong>,” he said.<br />

In 2018, the Co-op Group launched its Safer<br />

Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign to<br />

address violence and crime affecting colleagues.<br />

As the pandemic unfolded, violence against<br />

shopworkers increased, and the Co-op Party,<br />

co-operatives, other retailers and trade unions<br />

came together to raise awareness, incentivise<br />

police action and strengthen existing laws.<br />

“We knew there was an opportunity <strong>for</strong><br />

change, but we needed to ensure that we<br />

used all the networks we could to bring about<br />

those changes,” said Mr Fortune. “We worked<br />

together. We didn’t work on our own, in silos,<br />

or as individuals within independent societies,<br />

we worked all together and showed co-operative<br />

leadership.”<br />


A raffle was held with prizes donated by cooperatives,<br />

including hampers and a new<br />

Fairphone, which raised over £1,000 <strong>for</strong><br />

Kandoroo – a co-operative addressing food<br />

poverty by working with care professionals<br />

to distribute electronic vouchers through an<br />

app or card <strong>for</strong> eligible clients to use within<br />

participating stores. Kandoroo wanted to raise<br />

£100,000 and asked <strong>for</strong> pledges, with Central<br />

England Co-operative making the first pledge.<br />

On the Sunday, Liz McIvor presented the work<br />

of the Co-operative Heritage Trust and a new<br />

35 minute film, supported by Co-op News, that<br />

gives a whistle-stop tour of the movement.<br />

Sunday morning also saw delegates take<br />

part in a workshop on Innovation and growth.<br />

A 90-minute design sprint was led by Naomi<br />

Timperly of Growth Strategy Innovation and<br />

Tech North Advocates on themes including<br />

Principle 6, engaging young people and<br />

digital inclusion.<br />

p The Co-op Group’s<br />

Russell Gill on the<br />

Co-op Levy Share<br />

Initiative<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 29


Robert Owen’s role within<br />

the co-operative movement<br />

Anca Voinea and<br />

Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

When it comes to Robert Owen’s legacy, the<br />

co-operative movement is split. Some see the<br />

Welsh manufacturer and social re<strong>for</strong>mer as the<br />

founder of co-operatives while others attribute<br />

that role to the Rochdale Pioneers.<br />

Trust manager Liz McIvor and archivist Sophie<br />

McCulloch from the Co-operative Heritage Trust<br />

tried to shed some light on this debate during<br />

a session at the conference New Lanark: A<br />

living legacy. Held on 1-3 March, the conference<br />

celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of<br />

Robert Owen, born in 1771.<br />

The session looked at the influence of Owen’s<br />

ideas on the Rochdale Pioneers and the wider<br />

co-operative movement. While co-op ideas were<br />

something that preceded Owen, he brought<br />

them back into discussion, said Ms McIvor.<br />

Letters sent by Charles Howarth, one of the<br />

founding Rochdale Pioneers, suggest that he<br />

had been influenced by Owen’s writing. Howarth<br />

wrote the Rochdale Society of Equitable<br />

Pioneers’ rule book, which included its objects<br />

and its “Law First”.<br />

There were also differences of opinion between<br />

utopian communities like Owen’s and those<br />

trading with capital, such as Rochdale Society<br />

of Equitable Pioneers. “A lot of the utopian<br />

communities didn’t survive whereas consumer<br />

co-ops did,” said Ms McIvor.<br />

“People influenced by Owen failed because<br />

of infighting, they couldn’t agree how things<br />

should be run,” added Ms McCulloch.<br />

In the 1830s Owen was in New Harmony,<br />

Indiana, USA, where he attempted to create<br />

a new utopian community based on “unity<br />

and co-operation”. During this time other<br />

communities across the UK tried to set up cooperatives<br />

but failed to sustain their projects. As<br />

a result, co-operation became more industrial,<br />

separate from Owen. His followers moved on<br />

from utopian ideas into something that worked<br />

far more integrally with the economy and social<br />

systems through which they lived.<br />

Later on, George Jacob Holyoake re-established<br />

Owen after getting hold of his letters, which are<br />

now part of the Co-operative Heritage Trust’s<br />

archives. A co-operator and editor, Holyoake<br />

presented Owen as an influential figure within<br />

the movement partly to suit his own purposes of<br />

explaining what a co-op is. Holyoake reclaimed<br />

u Liz McIvor and<br />

Sophie McCulloch<br />

from the Co-operative<br />

Heritage Trust<br />

30 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

the narrative, using what suited the co-op<br />

movement at the time to help shape the still<br />

developing co-operative identity.<br />

So where should the movement stand with<br />

regards to Owen’s legacy?<br />

“He doesn’t need to be the father of the<br />

movement, he’s part of the story, of what makes<br />

co-op history,” said Ms McIvor.<br />

“Because we have Robert Owen’s collection<br />

[of letters] and we have George Jacob Holyoake’s<br />

collection, both provide context to each other.<br />

And we think that actually he’s been able to<br />

be used by Holyoake to be more significant<br />

throughout the history of our movement. He is<br />

someone who is used as a cornerstone to go back<br />

to,” she added, explaining that Owen’s views<br />

were controversial at the time of his writing<br />

but were rescued and presented back to the<br />

movement by Holyoake.<br />

Owen’s ideas also continue to influence<br />

modern day worker co-operatives, social<br />

co-operatives and social enterprises.<br />



Owen also had a huge influence on education<br />

both in the co-operative movement and wider<br />

society. New Lanark’s Institute <strong>for</strong> the Formation<br />

of Character was one of a number of programmes<br />

set up by Owen to provide free education <strong>for</strong><br />

young people and adults, who stated: “It is…the<br />

interest of all, that everyone, from birth, should<br />

be well educated, physically and mentally, that<br />

society may be improved in its character”.<br />

The co-operative movement has placed a<br />

similar emphasis on the role of education<br />

throughout its history, with education being<br />

one of the key co-operative principles. Although<br />

Owenism and co-operativism share a history<br />

when it comes to education, it is a history that<br />

contains conflict in both ideas and practice.<br />

Professor Tom Woodin explained in his talk<br />

on Resuscitating Cooperative Traditions of<br />

Education that while “Owenite influences<br />

suffused co-operative activities”, there were<br />

tensions over the idea of agency. Whereas Owen<br />

favoured grand, paternalistic schemes designed<br />

on behalf of the working classes, co-operators<br />

that came later were more focused on workers<br />

taking ownership of these programmes, as<br />

reflected in the Rochdale Pioneers’ objectives<br />

which state: “this society shall proceed to<br />

arrange the powers of production, distribution,<br />

education and government or in other words<br />

to establish a self-supporting home colony of<br />

united interests”.<br />





“The Rochdale Pioneers saw themselves as a<br />

very practical group of men”, said Prof Woodin;<br />

but, he argued, their practice was rooted in the<br />

utopian ideals of Owen. Both Owen and later<br />

co-operators promoted learning in both adults<br />

and young people as an intrinsic good, but the<br />

Pioneers saw education as a pathway to equity.<br />

Prof Woodin shared this quote from Pioneer<br />

Abraham Greenwood: “Some approximation<br />

to intellectual equality, by the extension to the<br />

many of the knowledge and tastes developed<br />

amongst the comparatively few, so that a cooperation<br />

<strong>for</strong> common purposes has been<br />

rendered possible”, to demonstrate this point,<br />

and added that the early co-operators aimed to<br />

distribute knowledge much in the same way they<br />

distributed profits. u<br />

p Robert Owen<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 31






p New Lanark Mill<br />

(Photo: Scotland By<br />

Camera/CC BY-ND 2.0)<br />


The conference took place at New Lanark, a<br />

purpose-built 18th century mill village, which<br />

was at one time one of the largest cotton mills in<br />

the UK and the largest in Scotland. New Lanark<br />

is regarded as a once living example of Owen’s<br />

utopian socialism, putting into practice his ideas<br />

of workers’ dignity, welfare and education. Owen<br />

described his work at New Lanark as “the most<br />

important experiment <strong>for</strong> the happiness of the<br />

human race that has yet been instituted in any<br />

part of the world”. It influenced the co-operative<br />

movement too – the village store set up by Owen<br />

at New Lanark is said to have laid the basis <strong>for</strong><br />

the retail co-operative movement which came<br />

later with the Rochdale Pioneers.<br />

In his talk, “Changing the World One Step at<br />

a Time by Example”, Professor Morris Altman<br />

explored the legacy left by the New Lanark<br />

project. He explained that New Lanark may<br />

be able to teach us something we can apply to<br />

today’s conversations around sustainability,<br />

when thinking about the topic in a broad sense:<br />

“When we talk about sustainability, what’s left<br />

out of the equation is actually workers and their<br />

level of wellbeing.”<br />

Prof Altman said that Owen’s ideas and work<br />

around engaging with workers and their families<br />

has a lot of implications <strong>for</strong> contemporary<br />

investor-owned corporations as well as co-ops<br />

and mutuals. But he was also keen to emphasise<br />

that New Lanark was not a co-op, and Owen was<br />

not a co-operator.<br />

“In New Lanark, workers’ and their families’<br />

wellbeing was very much at the discretion of this<br />

paternalistic, yet humanistic, investor-owner,<br />

Robert Owen”, said Prof Altman.<br />

The key lesson from New Lanark, he said, was<br />

that investor-owned firms could be run in a way<br />

that treated workers more humanely, and still be<br />

financially viable, though this is still a marginal<br />

idea in much economic thought. Education<br />

through business and economic institutions can<br />

change this, he added.<br />

Prof Altman talked about the need <strong>for</strong><br />

“practical utopias” – that is, real life examples<br />

32 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

of how doing things differently can work in<br />

practice, of which New Lanark is one. “New<br />

Lanark is not this weird idea, it’s an example<br />

of how we can improve the real world market<br />

economy one step at a time. It’s practical, and it<br />

should in<strong>for</strong>m economic theory.”<br />



New Lanark’s legacy is now preserved in the<br />

New Lanark World Heritage Site, which was<br />

granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2001.<br />

The final day of the conference was dedicated<br />

to conversations around the restoration<br />

and preservation of New Lanark and other<br />

historical sites.<br />

New Lanark meets a number of the criteria<br />

needed <strong>for</strong> its status as a UNESCO World Heritage<br />

Site, including criterion vi, which requires<br />

the site to “be directly or tangibly associated<br />

with events or living traditions, with ideas, or<br />

with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of<br />

outstanding universal significance”.<br />

The way in which New Lanark meets this<br />

criterion is stated in its listing: “The name of<br />

New Lanark is synonymous with that of Robert<br />

Owen and his social philosophy in matters<br />

such as progressive education, factory re<strong>for</strong>m,<br />

humane working practices, international<br />

cooperation, and garden cities, which was<br />

to have a profound influence on social<br />

developments throughout the 19th century<br />

and beyond.”<br />

In her presentation on New Lanark and<br />

Scotland’s World Heritage, head of archaeology<br />

and world heritage at Historic Environment<br />

Scotland Dr Rebecca Jones highlighted New<br />

Lanark as a site which acts as a “milestone in<br />

social and industrial history”.<br />

Speaking about New Lanark’s relation to<br />

the work of Robert Owen and the co-operative<br />

movement, she added: “In many ways, across<br />

all the sites in Scotland, it’s New Lanark that<br />

really embodies the intangible evidenced in the<br />

tangible.”<br />


The conference also explored Owen’s legacy in<br />

the context of today’s global challenges, looking<br />

at how co-operative solutions could help to<br />

address issues such as climate change or tackle<br />

inequalities.<br />

Ed Archer, chair of the Lanarkshire Heritage<br />

Forum Archaeology, pointed out that while<br />

not all of Owen’s endeavours were “a startling<br />

success”, important lessons could be learnt from<br />

his New Harmony or Orbiston projects.<br />

“What he did was to sort of trail blaze and<br />

inspire other people as we’ve seen today.<br />

Personally, I think there’s a lot of need these<br />

days <strong>for</strong> working in a co-operative sense and to<br />

have more ethically directed businesses whether<br />

it is your Scotmid supermarkets and stores or<br />

energy,” he said.<br />

Martin Meteyard, a co-op development<br />

consultant in Scotland, said that Owen had “a<br />

vision of a new society, one based on human<br />

dignity and equality” which he kept alive and in<br />

front of everything he did.<br />

“He emphasised the necessity of education,<br />

and how it’s most important, he emphasised<br />

practical endeavour,” said Mr Meteyard. “To<br />

own his legacy the co-operative movement<br />

added democracy, which wasn’t necessarily<br />

one of his strengths; he was a bit dismissive in<br />

later years of the abilities of ordinary working<br />

people to take charge of affairs themselves.<br />

But despite Owen’s opinions, the co-operative<br />

movement in the UK and elsewhere showed<br />

that it was possible <strong>for</strong> ordinary working<br />






people to come together and to make huge<br />

strides <strong>for</strong> a new mode of existence under their<br />

own control.”<br />

Owen’s approach can still serve as an<br />

example <strong>for</strong> co-ops, added Mr Meteyard. Today’s<br />

challenges may be different from those of 250<br />

years ago, but co-ops can still be involved in<br />

trans<strong>for</strong>ming human society in a positive way.<br />

Issues co-ops can aim to address could include<br />

promoting racial justice, gender equality, LGBTQ<br />

inclusion, or engaging with young people,<br />

he said.<br />

“To go back to Robert Owen,” he added,<br />

to reiterate, “precept upon precept, however<br />

excellent, without decisive measures, to put<br />

them into practice, is a waste of time. It is far<br />

more necessary to act than to speak.”<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 33



A bumpy road<br />

to co-operation?<br />

Rebecca Harvey and<br />

Miles Hadfield<br />

q Oli Sylvester-Bradley<br />

and Alex Lawrie<br />

There are over 5,000 co-ops in the UK; 3 million<br />

around the world. But how easy is it to set up<br />

a new one, and find the right support? We’ve<br />

spoken with four co-op development workers<br />

and three regional organisations who are often<br />

the first port of call. What support and funding is<br />

available, and what are the biggest challenges?<br />

According to Oliver Sylvester-Bradley of<br />

The Open Co-op, setting up a small co-op<br />

is fundamentally easy. “People waste huge<br />

amounts of time worrying about their legal<br />

structure, but you can set up a simple co-op<br />

by <strong>for</strong>ming a co-operative association between<br />

a few founding members in minutes, by<br />

agreeing to follow the co-operative principles,”<br />

he says.<br />

“It’s very easy if you are of the DIY persuasion,”<br />

adds Alex Lawrie of Somerset Co-operative<br />

Services. “A very basic legal structure can be<br />

set up <strong>for</strong> £30 or so using free guides available<br />

online; and of course, an unincorporated group<br />

can (<strong>for</strong> a small scale, simple activity) can just<br />

start trading with no legal costs at all, and no tax<br />

to pay if it is fully mutual.”<br />

Cath Muller of worker co-op support agency<br />

Radical Routes agrees: “It’s easy to register a<br />

company <strong>for</strong> £15 with a mate, copy the Articles<br />

of Association from Radical Routes’ How to Set<br />

Up a Workers Co-op and start advertising your<br />

services on social media. How far that gets you in<br />

terms of generating a liveable income is another<br />

matter! But <strong>for</strong> many who are already working in<br />

a gig way, slowly ramping a business organically<br />

is doable. The financial problems come with<br />

licences, permits, equipment, premises, safety<br />

procedure and GDPR etc.”<br />

But others warn that setting up a co-op is<br />

harder than it should be.<br />

“The people I help to set up small co-ops<br />

have usually spent days, months or even years<br />

searching the internet <strong>for</strong> in<strong>for</strong>mation on how<br />

to set one up; there is in<strong>for</strong>mation out there,<br />

but it doesn’t solve their problem,” says Phil<br />

Beardmore, who has been helping to set up coops<br />

in the West Midlands <strong>for</strong> around 25 years.<br />

For a start, the different legal and governance<br />

options can be overwhelming.<br />

“Most people will need expert help from a cooperative<br />

development worker,” he adds, “but<br />

the problem people have is finding one – the<br />

coverage of co-operative development agencies<br />

(CDAs) is uneven and patchy across the country.”<br />

In Mr Beardmore’s region, there is a small fund<br />

administered by Co-operatives West Midlands,<br />

from Central England Co-operative, which offers<br />

half a day with a CDA to help with legal and<br />

governance options. There is also a national<br />

network of support run by and <strong>for</strong> emerging<br />

worker co-ops.<br />

“I would always recommend joining the<br />

Worker Co-op Loomio group and Facebook page,<br />

and Worker Co-op Solidarity Fund,” says Ms<br />

Muller. “These are good places to garner crowd<br />

wisdom, make connections and possibly get a<br />

tiny bit of funding.”<br />

Mr Lawrie highlights how Co-operatives<br />

UK provides a nationwide service through<br />

its website, but organisations rooted in local<br />

regions differ greatly in terms of what they can<br />

34 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

do – and who pays <strong>for</strong> it. “Some are funded to<br />

provide free advice (eg Co-op Futures and the<br />

Wales Co-operative Centre), some aren’t funded<br />

but offer some free advice anyway (us), and<br />

others are consultancies that can only help once<br />

a source of funding has been identified.”<br />

He adds: “CDAs have been through two<br />

decades of a catastrophic decline in which their<br />

business models have been disrupted by political<br />

change in local authorities and by the internet.<br />

They have failed to work together to develop<br />

new business models – despite promising<br />

experiments such as Stirchley Co-operative<br />

Development’s ultra-localism, our use of social<br />

investment, Co-operative Assistant Network’s<br />

suite of models and diagnostics, Co-op Futures<br />

‘strong relationship with Midcounties, or HCED’s<br />

property development.<br />

“The result has been that the co-op sector in<br />

the UK has contracted every year <strong>for</strong> at least the<br />

last five years and maybe longer, with market<br />

share leaking away to <strong>for</strong>-profit businesses.”<br />



Making the transition from a group of volunteers<br />

with a good idea to a trading and sustainable<br />

co-operative business is another challenge.<br />

“It’s a big threshold to cross from your existing<br />

world to something that might be economically<br />

riskier,” says Mr Beardmore. “But we know that<br />

co-ops are more likely to survive than other<br />

social business models.”<br />

These challenges vary by sector, he says.<br />

“Among small energy co-ops, <strong>for</strong> example,<br />

those that thrive have scaled up, employed<br />

staff, and collaborated with other co-ops. Those<br />

who haven’t moved beyond small projects, that<br />

are heavily reliant on volunteers, are prone to<br />

burnout.”<br />

“Fundamentally, the challenges usually<br />

depend on existing levels of resource, time,<br />

capabilities and the capacity <strong>for</strong> risk,” says<br />

Ms Muller. “It also depends on the nature of<br />

the business and whether people are starting<br />

something new to them or transitioning from<br />

an existing business. Some people are able<br />

and willing to borrow to fund the set-up and<br />

development period, some are not. Some models<br />

are easy to copy, others are pioneering.<br />

“Working across cultural differences is<br />

difficult – that’s true whether it’s a co-op or not.<br />

But it does exacerbate the difficulties of creating<br />

a well-functioning collective – non-hierarchy<br />

requires very good communication and value<br />







alignment.” Because of this, one of the biggest<br />

challenges she sees is a group learning “how<br />

to work collectively and managing different<br />

expectations”.<br />

The lack of funding at different stages is<br />

another recurring theme: “Without investment<br />

to help get off the ground small co-ops usually<br />

rely on the sweat equity of their founders, who<br />

can often get burned out or demoralised be<strong>for</strong>e<br />

the co-op is generating enough income to pay<br />

fair wages,” says Mr Sylvester-Bradley. “This<br />

capital conundrum is one of the issues we are<br />

aiming to solve at coopdata.club, by providing<br />

a mechanism <strong>for</strong> co-ops to leverage other coops’<br />

email lists <strong>for</strong> cross-promotion. Co-ops<br />

want to help other co-ops, so it makes sense <strong>for</strong><br />

them to promote each other to reduce customer<br />

acquisition costs.”<br />

People’s personal situations also make it<br />

more of a challenge, adds Cath Muller. “It is<br />

harder [to set up a co-op now] than it was pre-<br />

Universal Credit,” she says. “It was harder on<br />

JSA than it was on Unemployment Benefit u<br />

p Phil Beardmore<br />

and Cath Muller<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 35

e<strong>for</strong>e that. It’s been getting harder over the<br />

years as the government makes it more difficult<br />

or more time-consuming to not have an income<br />

from employment, which is a common way that<br />

small co-ops manage to develop their co-ops,<br />

particularly if they don’t have a good credit rating<br />

or can’t risk borrowing money. And undoubtedly<br />

the sky-rocketing cost of housing is making<br />

everything harder that involves life changes and<br />

risking one’s income.”<br />


With patchy support and challenges to face, is<br />

the co-op model always the best option?<br />

“If you have a group of people with a good<br />

idea to create economic or social value, who<br />

want to co-operate with each other, then there<br />

is usually a co-operative model that will fit, but<br />

there are times when the choice between a coop<br />

and another model is very difficult,” says Mr<br />

Beardmore.<br />

Ms Muller agrees. “It’s really tempting if you’ve<br />

got a co-op and community empowerment<br />

mindset to think that co-ops are the solution<br />

<strong>for</strong> everything, but trying to help other people is<br />

basically charitable.<br />

“Unless you’re able to do enough education,<br />

persuasion and inspiration to get people to<br />

want to help themselves and to find the capacity<br />

<strong>for</strong> that, the chances of a co-op (particularly<br />

a workers’ co-op) succeeding with extremely<br />

limited resources is low. Co-ops in those<br />

circumstances often need funding to get to a<br />

secure position and often it’s easier as a charity.”<br />

For a small business owner looking to move on,<br />

they would be giving up a lot if they transferred<br />

their business to a worker co-op rather than to<br />

an employee benefit trust model, where tax<br />

breaks mean they get paid back in five years,<br />

adds Ms Muller. “Hopefully that will change, as<br />

Co-operatives UK is lobbying <strong>for</strong> an extension<br />

to the tax incentive to cover worker co-ops. On<br />

the other hand, if you want to do anything with<br />

a group of freelancers or anything collective with<br />

an app, a co-op is the absolute no-brainer way to<br />

go. There is a huge amount of goodwill around<br />

and some actual mutual aid and support through<br />

CoTech, through UnFound, through the Plat<strong>for</strong>m<br />

Co-operativism Consortium.”<br />

Mr Lawrie sees a lack of awareness of co-ops<br />

as part of the problem. “Most people who are<br />

open-minded [are] unaware that co-ops exist –<br />

so they start a company by default. A great many<br />

people wish to not share control or profits fairly<br />

and so a company is the only option <strong>for</strong> them.<br />

And charities are a better bet when the intended<br />

beneficiaries of the activity are not realistically<br />

capable of directing it (eg a wildlife sanctuary).”<br />

Another issue he sees is co-op culture – or<br />

the lack of it. “The co-op movement itself is<br />

divided between huge retail co-ops prone to<br />

conglomeration and executive capture, and<br />

tiny co-ops fuelled by individual ego,” says<br />

Mr Lawrie. “Although progress has been made<br />

connecting social investors to emerging co-ops,<br />

this is only really working in low-risk sectors.<br />

It adds up to a business culture that is lacking<br />

in confidence and dynamism, unable to adapt<br />

quickly to threats and opportunities, and falls<br />

under the sway of accountants and consultants<br />

with no interest in co-op values. Worst of all,<br />

the inherent advantages available to a director<br />

of a co-op are routinely neglected in favour of<br />

half-hearted attempts to ‘be more like a proper<br />

business’.”<br />


“Firstly develop a range of equity investment<br />

funds so more ordinary people can make taxadvantaged<br />

investments spread across a number<br />

of co-ops generally, but early-stage co-ops and<br />

CDAs especially,” says Alex Lawrie. “Describe the<br />

business model and professional practice of cooperative<br />

development work in a standard and<br />

replicable <strong>for</strong>mat. And identify sectors where<br />

opportunities <strong>for</strong> growth overlap with concern<br />

<strong>for</strong> the community (eg advanced recycling;<br />

low-input farming; autonomous rail and water<br />

vehicles; integrated transport services; social<br />

purpose AI; heat pumps) and incentivise the<br />

<strong>for</strong>mation of new co-ops in those sectors.”<br />

Collaboration is also key. Phil Beardmore gives<br />

the example of fuel and energy co-ops: “We are<br />

seeing millions of households thrown into fuel<br />

poverty <strong>for</strong> the first time. There are co-ops doing<br />

great work to help people in fuel poverty, but it<br />

is difficult to sustain this activity. We don’t have<br />

co-operative models to help the fuel-poor that<br />

are easily replicable; community energy models<br />

that are focused on generating renewable energy<br />

or retrofit, haven’t fully crossed over into helping<br />

the fuel-poor.<br />

“A lot of the best work in fuel poverty is<br />

delivered not by energy experts, but by advocates<br />

working <strong>for</strong> locally based community anchor<br />

organisations. These organisations are charities,<br />

but of the entrepreneurial kind, and they are well<br />

placed to help with fuel poverty because they<br />

can attract charitable funding that co-ops can’t<br />

because fuel poverty alleviation is essentially<br />

36 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

philanthropic. We need to explore collaboration<br />

between charities and co-ops.”<br />

Plenty of small co-ops thrive (see more case<br />

studies on page 42-43). In Northern Ireland, craft<br />

beer co-ops like Lacada and Boundary have<br />

worked very well and the Belfast Food Co-op is an<br />

emerging consumer co-op working to establish<br />

a strong membership in north Belfast. Rabble<br />

is a worker co-op with a strong ethos in human<br />

rights and activism that offers IT solutions to<br />

like-minded campaigning organisations. Jubilee<br />

Farm is a successful community benefit society<br />

using a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)<br />

model, and NICE is a community energy solar<br />

bencom created in 2014.<br />

In Wales, Arfon Timber Co-operative is<br />

another great example of a flourishing smaller<br />

worker co-op, designing and building resilient<br />

timber structures, fusing traditional techniques<br />

with contemporary eco-building technology. All<br />

the timber is sourced locally and processed at its<br />

own sawmill.<br />

“As a collective, we found we were able to<br />

go <strong>for</strong> bigger, more interesting contracts and<br />

invest in better tools and infrastructure,” says<br />

Jane Davidson, one of the co-op’s six worker<br />

members. “We are able to team up on some of<br />

the necessities of running a business – things<br />

like insurance, administration and advertising,<br />

which frees up more time and resources to do<br />

what it is we actually do. We find we work in less<br />

of a hand-to-mouth way – allowing us to take<br />

a step back and look at where the business is<br />

going – and where we would like it to go.”<br />


We also spoke with regional organisations in<br />

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.<br />

“Economic development is now a power<br />

partially devolved to local authorities but out<br />

of the 11 council areas in NI, only the Belfast<br />

City Council explicitly mention co-operative<br />

development in their strategy and have allocated<br />

resources <strong>for</strong> the support of new co-ops in<br />

the area,” says Tiziana O’Hara, who heads up<br />

Northern Ireland’s Co-operative Alternatives, a<br />

CDA based in Belfast. “The Department of the<br />

Economy and Invest NI do not have any strategy<br />

to grow the co-operative sector in NI, nor to<br />

financially support and resource a co-operative<br />

development agency <strong>for</strong> the region, although we<br />

asked repeatedly and publicly.”<br />

Co-operative Alternatives sustains itself mostly<br />

through resources from outside the region (such<br />

as Co-operatives UK’s The Hive and the Co-op<br />

Group’s charity arm, the Co-op Foundation) or<br />

direct payments from its members. The only<br />

programme of support that was funded by NI has<br />

been the Community Shares Ready! programme<br />

between 2013-2018; this was £300,000 and it<br />

raised in excess of £950,000 shares from local<br />

people.<br />

“Currently, the hard-won support <strong>for</strong> cooperatives<br />

from Belfast City Council consists of<br />

a limited amount of mentoring days (in average<br />

3-4 days per emerging co-op), with seed funding<br />

to pay <strong>for</strong> the registration fees and the use of<br />

model rules and, in the past two years only,<br />

some additional support <strong>for</strong> raising awareness<br />

of the co-operative model,” she says.<br />

“In addition, we have also secured a Co-op<br />

Foundation grant <strong>for</strong> a two-year project called<br />

‘Cultivating Community Farming’. We will work<br />

with 10 groups and organisations helping them<br />

to develop communities interested in farming<br />

and farmers interested in communities.”<br />

She adds: “There are some development gaps<br />

– <strong>for</strong> instance, lack of skills in democratic u<br />

p The six members<br />

of the Arfon Timber<br />

Co-operative<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 37





p From left: Tiziana<br />

O’Hara (Co-operative<br />

Alternatives); Clare<br />

Alexander (Co-op<br />

Development<br />

Scotland); Glenn<br />

Bowen (Wales<br />

Co-operative Centre)<br />

governance and decision making, membership<br />

engagement, capital raising etc. but also<br />

barriers such as access to land and no seed and<br />

development funding to support early stages.”<br />

Ms O’Hara believes there is an opportunity <strong>for</strong><br />

co-ops to create a model of growth that would<br />

connect well-established co-operatives with<br />

emerging co-ops and more collaborations across<br />

the sector. But she is wary of too much scaling<br />

up. “‘Scaling up’ enterprises may distract from<br />

the opportunities that co-operation can offer<br />

and the development of value-driven supply<br />

chains,” she adds.<br />


Clare Alexander at Co-op Development Scotland<br />

sees the start-up stage as “quite straight<strong>for</strong>ward”,<br />

but here too the issue is funding: “Co-ops can<br />

face difficulty accessing capital as their structure<br />

means there isn’t always clear ownership,<br />

making it more difficult <strong>for</strong> traditional lenders<br />

to invest. Achieving scale is another reason<br />

that some co-ops fail. It can be challenging<br />

making sure that they have enough production<br />

to feasibly and consistently supply markets.<br />

Keeping the membership engaged after a co-op<br />

is set up is also a challenge we see.”<br />

She adds: “Co-ops exist to serve their members,<br />

whether they are customers, employees or the<br />

local community. Because they do not need to<br />

bring benefits to outside shareholders, co-ops<br />

focus on making sure members get the best<br />

service. The model is ideal <strong>for</strong> groups looking<br />

<strong>for</strong> a fairer, more just and ethical way to trade<br />

or communities looking <strong>for</strong> a way to collectively<br />

buy into a project to help their local area.<br />

“The pandemic generated further interest<br />

in alternative business models as many of our<br />

norms were questioned and there was a desire to<br />

live differently. As we look to economic recovery,<br />

Scotland’s National Strategy <strong>for</strong> Economic<br />

Trans<strong>for</strong>mation (see news, page 11) seeks to<br />

reorient our economy towards wellbeing and fair<br />

work, delivering more employment and better<br />

wages. Inclusive models such as co-operatives<br />

have a critical role to play in this.<br />

WALES<br />

The Wales Co-operative Centre delivers Social<br />

Business Wales (SBW), which provides support<br />

to new and established social businesses – coops,<br />

social enterprises and employee-owned<br />

businesses. Groups are allocated a business<br />

adviser who will help them look at strategic and<br />

business planning and the right structure.<br />

“Funding is still a challenge,” says enterprise<br />

programme director Glenn Bowen, who notes<br />

that many traditional lenders still require<br />

personal guarantees. “Blended finance options<br />

are available through Social Investment Cymru<br />

that is run by Wales Council <strong>for</strong> Voluntary Action<br />

(WCVA) and we also work with a number of<br />

other funding bodies, including Co-operative &<br />

Community Finance.<br />

“Time is also a barrier. If you are setting up<br />

as a sole trader the individual is able to make<br />

decisions and act very quickly. Within a co-op,<br />

we have to keep all our stakeholders aligned.”<br />

He believes there is an opportunity <strong>for</strong> co-ops<br />

“as consumers are thinking more about how they<br />

spend their money. More and more they want to<br />

buy things in a way that doesn’t harm the planet,<br />

consumers want to use their purchasing power<br />

to improve their communities. The challenge will<br />

be the funding needed to scale up – particularly<br />

around digital and plat<strong>for</strong>m co-ops.”<br />

In Wales, many will register as a company but<br />

will use specialist articles that include co-op<br />

principles. Others starting out will choose the<br />

charity model. “One big advantage that charities<br />

have is rate relief (80% mandatory rate relief<br />

and a 20% discretionary rate relieve). Charitable<br />

Community Benefit Societies are also eligible<br />

but many local authorities are not aware of this.”<br />

38 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

Community pubs<br />

still going strong<br />


Anca Voinea<br />

p Exelby Green<br />

Dragon Community<br />

Pub<br />

Small community pubs have had two difficult<br />

years with several en<strong>for</strong>ced closures and<br />

lockdowns. While this fluctuating trading model<br />

brought new challenges <strong>for</strong> the hospitality trade<br />

sector, it also enabled community businesses to<br />

show their resilience.<br />

Chris Cowcher, head of policy at the Plunkett<br />

Foundation says that only one community<br />

owned pub closed during the pandemic with the<br />

rest proving to be “remarkably resilient”.<br />

“What’s even more amazing is that there have<br />

been new pubs opening,” he says. “In 2021, 15<br />

new community pubs and 11 new community<br />

shops opened their doors. Despite all the<br />

challenges facing these communities, groups<br />

are still finding a way of coming together, raising<br />

funds and pursuing community leadership on<br />

behalf of their community.”<br />

The Plunkett Foundation is a charity that<br />

helps rural communities in the UK create and<br />

run community-owned businesses. While these<br />

businesses are now trading as usual, the losses<br />

and debts incurred over the last two years<br />

and rising costs will continue to impact their<br />

operations.<br />

“Local engagement and community<br />

consultation remains key to making sure their<br />

services remain relevant, supported and used by<br />

the local area,” says Mr Cowcher.<br />

One of the advantages community businesses<br />

had was having reserves in the bank at the<br />

beginning of the pandemic, which enabled some<br />

of them to cope with the loss of income.<br />

“These businesses are owned and run by local<br />

residents, <strong>for</strong> local revenue, which means that<br />

there was a willingness to adapt immediately,”<br />

explains Mr Cowcher. Some pubs started offering<br />

deliveries and takeaway services while others<br />

ran micro shops and repurposed themselves.<br />

“While there are some amazing examples<br />

of privately owned pubs also doing this, those<br />

that are community owned and run have that<br />

direct link with the local residents, which then<br />

becomes the customer base,” he says. “[These<br />

enterprises] made sure that the most vulnerable<br />

in the community were being supported u<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 39





p Winter fire and<br />

bedroom at the Exelby<br />

Green Dragon<br />

to live independently, particularly if they were<br />

shielding from Covid-19. And these people<br />

were more easily identified because within that<br />

customer base, and within the shareholding of<br />

the business, are community representatives<br />

and residents that are likely to know who needs<br />

the support services most.”<br />

The Plunkett Foundation was affected by<br />

the pandemic as well, with some of its funding<br />

programmes being paused by funders. However,<br />

it continued to work with community businesses<br />

whilst working remotely. In March 2020 it ran a<br />

training hub with webinars and various activities<br />

to enable community businesses to deal with<br />

issues such as short-term cash flows or how to<br />

access government support.<br />

“That kind of remote working led to us<br />

engaging even more communities than we<br />

would normally – in fact, we saw a 49% rise in<br />

calls to our inquiry line from groups wanting to<br />

access advice and support.”<br />

It also meant the organisation could operate in<br />

extended geographic areas. “Pre-pandemic there<br />

were times when we might be limited in reaching<br />

the highlands and the islands, <strong>for</strong> example,<br />

through not having that capacity,” says Mr<br />

Cowcher. “But connecting online has made sure<br />

that we have truly served business across all four<br />

UK nations, and connected groups.”<br />

Plunkett also convenes and administers<br />

Facebook groups <strong>for</strong> community-owned shops<br />

and pubs, which over lockdown witnessed an<br />

increase in engagement among members, who<br />

were exchanging in<strong>for</strong>mation and supporting<br />

each other.<br />

“The peer support and mutual aid that<br />

community businesses have af<strong>for</strong>ded one<br />

another have been an absolutely integral part of<br />

how the sector has responded to and navigated<br />

the last two years,” said Mr Cowcher.<br />

And the pandemic led Plunkett to engage even<br />

more with the government, funders and local<br />

councils to make the case <strong>for</strong> small community<br />

businesses, particularly those in rural areas.<br />

The charity has also recently launched an<br />

online business appraisal tool, which enables<br />

community businesses to assess their strengths<br />

and weaknesses. The tool, which is available<br />

<strong>for</strong> free, asks community businesses a series of<br />

questions and based on their answers issues a<br />

report with recommendations on how to take<br />

things <strong>for</strong>ward.<br />

“For some it will be just keep doing what<br />

you are doing. For others, it might suggest<br />

considering bringing in new share finance or<br />

diversifying your delivery services,” explains<br />

Mr Cowcher.<br />

“It also means that we’re being much smarter<br />

in terms of understanding the needs of the<br />

businesses that we work with, because we’re<br />

reviewing those appraisal tools. And actually<br />

it gives us an opportunity to offer bespoke and<br />

unique training opportunities.”<br />

40 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong><br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 40

He adds that the tool also enabled Plunkett to<br />

have “much more current and relevant evidence<br />

to support our advocacy and representational<br />

activities”.<br />

In 2001 there were just four community pubs<br />

across the UK. By 2021 there was 147. Likewise,<br />

the number of community shops increased from<br />

67 in 2001 to over 400 by the end of 2021.<br />

So what might the future bring to the sector?<br />

“I think the reality is that these sectors are going<br />

to continue growing,” says Mr Cowcher, adding<br />

that community ownership was particularly<br />

appropriate in rural settings.<br />

“If a community doesn’t come together and use<br />

a community-led or community-owned solution,<br />

then that service is lost. In a rural setting,<br />

that may well impact not only the immediate<br />

community, but a number of surrounding<br />

areas too.”<br />

Mr Cowcher believes the scarring of the<br />

pandemic is something that is going to be seen<br />

<strong>for</strong> many years to come.<br />

Plunkett will be launching a new strategy<br />

this year, which will aim to ensure community<br />

ownership plays a responsible role in making<br />

the countryside accessible and available to<br />

everybody. Other areas of focus will be ensuring<br />

community businesses are “inclusive, innovative<br />

and impactful”.<br />

The charity will also continue to work closely<br />

with Co-operatives UK, the Wales Co-operative<br />

Centre and other bodies across the UK to<br />

make sure UK legislation around community<br />

ownership supports a community first approach.<br />

“The community right of first refusal or a<br />

right to buy that exists in Scotland has some<br />

faults in its current <strong>for</strong>m, but is definitely the<br />

principle that we would want to see replicated<br />

across all four nations” says Mr Cowcher. “So<br />

if communities want to bring an asset or a<br />

business into collective community hands, the<br />

legislation is there to empower them to pursue<br />

that project.”<br />

At the moment in England, such projects are<br />

supported only to the point of creating a bid<br />

on an asset; the bid could potentially be turned<br />

away by a vendor that is not supportive of<br />

community ownership.<br />

One of the community businesses that have<br />

received support from the Plunkett Foundation<br />

is Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub in North<br />

Yorkshire. The pub had been a focal point <strong>for</strong><br />

the community <strong>for</strong> many years until it was sold<br />

to the Ei Group (Enterprise Inns) in 2016. The<br />

new owner was considering selling the pub to<br />

housing developers, but local residents stepped<br />

in to save it.<br />

Purchase negotiations with Ei lasted 18<br />

months. “We made the offer in conjunction<br />

with a local developer to buy the pub and<br />

land associated with it,” says John Walker, the<br />

secretary of the pub, which was purchased in<br />

2018 and is now a registered community benefit<br />

society. “Now we not only have a community<br />

pub, we also have a café, shop and the space to<br />

be that vibrant community hub once more.”<br />

The local community raised the capital<br />

required to purchase the pub through a<br />

community share offer. They benefited from<br />

advice from the Plunkett Foundation, who<br />

supported them in the process. They also<br />

received a grant from the local authority, and<br />

Pub is The Hub, a not-<strong>for</strong>-profit organisation,<br />

which helped them set up an audiovisual suite<br />

in the venue. And they were able to access some<br />

funding from Power to Change.<br />

In addition to the café, shop, and bed and<br />

breakfast businesses, the pub also purchased a<br />

small cottage, which was turned into af<strong>for</strong>dable<br />

housing. They chose the community benefit<br />

society model due to its democratic structure.<br />

“We wanted all of our shareholders to have an<br />

input and a say into what we’re doing. And what<br />

we’re doing is <strong>for</strong> the benefit of the community.<br />

It does what it says on the tin really, ‘community<br />

benefit’ society. And that structure has been<br />

really, helpful. It’s a democratic structure where<br />

every shareholder has a say,” adds Mr Walker.<br />

One of the main challenges faced in the early<br />

stages was getting the word out there. They used<br />

social media and the local press and were able to<br />

attract the attention of the local MP, Rishi Sunak,<br />

who became its first shareholder and helped to<br />

raise the pub’s profile.<br />

While the pandemic posed many challenges,<br />

Mr Walker says the local community behind the<br />

pub was able to pull together and help each other.<br />

The pub was even able to launch a community<br />

garden. It also runs a community library and a<br />

community safe space, where locals can go <strong>for</strong><br />

some peace and quiet.<br />

“The whole period saw the community coming<br />

together and learning the value of working<br />

together and working with each other,” adds<br />

Mr Walker.<br />

As to the future, the Exelby Green Dragon<br />

Community Pub plans to refurbish one of its<br />

dining rooms.<br />

Their advice <strong>for</strong> other groups looking to<br />

acquire local pubs is to persevere.<br />

“Perseverance is key. If you have the conviction<br />

and commitment towards your project, just<br />

persevere,” says Mr Walker.<br />

“There’s lots of help out there. Come and visit<br />

us! We welcome visitors all the time on their<br />

journey. And also seek help from people that<br />

have specialist resources <strong>for</strong> helping people in<br />

that situation.”<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 41


What is Signalise?<br />

A multi-stakeholder plat<strong>for</strong>m coop<br />

that provides sign language<br />

interpreting and other communication<br />

professionals to services who need to<br />

communicate with Deaf people.<br />

Founded: 2019<br />

Number of members: 315 in total,<br />

including 192 investor members, 82<br />

worker members and 41 user members.<br />

What challenges or opportunities<br />

have you faced as a small co-op?<br />

The challenges we have faced have<br />

included operating as a bilingual coop,<br />

engaging with as many members as<br />

possible, especially in a pandemic, and<br />

not always being recognised <strong>for</strong> the<br />

special set up we have as a co-op - i.e.<br />

being community owned.<br />

As <strong>for</strong> opportunities, there are<br />

many! This includes creating a shared<br />

understanding and shared goals of how<br />

we want a co-op to be run, involving<br />

all users in the co-op, including Deaf<br />

people <strong>for</strong> the very first time, and<br />

moving towards a business model that<br />

is created by, owned by and enhanced<br />

by everyone involved.<br />

Do you wish to grow your co-op? If<br />

so, to what size, and why?<br />

We would like to expand to other<br />

regions and bring the same benefits<br />

to workers, users and customers of<br />

services. As we rely on technology, the<br />

larger we are, the more we can share<br />

the benefits of community ownership<br />

as well as the tech and keep business<br />

costs down.<br />

We are stronger together!<br />


What is Colne Valley Care Co-op?<br />

A multi-stakeholder co-op established<br />

to provide both high-quality<br />

domiciliary care <strong>for</strong> older and disabled<br />

people in the Colne Valley, and fair<br />

and proper terms and conditions of<br />

employment <strong>for</strong> care staff.<br />

Founded: 2019. In March <strong>2022</strong> we<br />

celebrate our first year anniversary<br />

of offering care and support in Colne<br />

Valley.<br />

Number of members: As a<br />

multistakeholder co-op we’re currently<br />

setting up systems so that our staff,<br />

user members and family and friends<br />

can become members <strong>for</strong>mally while<br />

already embedding co-operation,<br />

co-production and consultations as<br />

key ways of working. At the moment,<br />

we have eight staff, support 16 user<br />

members and there are eight board<br />

members. We have just over 100<br />

investor members who have financially<br />

supported us to set-up and get the care<br />

co-op off the ground.<br />

What challenges or opportunities<br />

have you faced as a small co-op?<br />

Being an emerging care co-op has<br />

been really challenging – the ongoing<br />

pandemic, staff shortages and rising<br />

living costs have all added to the<br />

already complex environment in the<br />

care sector that does not work <strong>for</strong><br />

anyone. Generally, apart from a few<br />

amazing places and areas, those who<br />

need support are not getting it in such<br />

a way that supports living good lives,<br />

and the staff are not being treated<br />

with respect and don’t get the pay and<br />

recognition they deserve. We have been<br />

working hard and learning loads about<br />

how we can start changing this and<br />

share the learning with others too.<br />

Despite all this, it has been amazing<br />

to witness that it is possible to offer<br />

great care and support, that people can<br />

thrive, that the staff team appreciate<br />

being listened to and are able to<br />

influence how the co-op is run.<br />

Do you wish to grow your co-op? If<br />

so, to what size, and why?<br />

We do believe that small is beautiful<br />

and at the same time we would love<br />

<strong>for</strong> everyone to live their lives well and<br />

get great care and support when it’s<br />

needed. We plan to grow similarly to<br />

strawberry plants - there are a lot of<br />

them alongside one another. We can<br />

and will support groups, communities,<br />

local authorities to set up care co-ops<br />

in their areas/localities. This way we<br />

could share resources and support<br />

mutual learning and development.<br />

42 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>



What is Unicorn?<br />

A worker-owned, ‘bricks and mortar’,<br />

grocery co-op in South Manchester.<br />

Running since: 1996<br />

Number of members: We currently<br />

have 67 co-op members. We’re a<br />

workers’ co-operative with a pretty flat<br />

structure – members are all workers<br />

and also directors.<br />

What challenges or opportunities<br />

have you faced as a small co-op?<br />

Twice named the nation’s ‘Best Food<br />

Retailer’ at the BBC Food & Farming<br />

Awards, we offer our Manchester<br />

customer-base an unbeatable range of<br />

af<strong>for</strong>dable, fresh and wholesome food<br />

with an emphasis on organic, fair-trade<br />

and local produce.<br />

We’re the size of a supermarket but<br />

run as a workers’ co-operative, owned<br />

and democratically controlled by the<br />

staff you see here in the shop. Although<br />

we’ve grown a lot since 1996, those<br />

things remain true today. We’re proud<br />

to have proven that we can compete<br />

with national chains and provide a<br />

genuine alternative to the supermarket.<br />

In recent years we’ve been named<br />

the Soil Association’s 2018 Best<br />

Independent Retailer, followed<br />

in 2019 by Lancashire Life’s<br />

Independent Retailer of the Year<br />

award and Manchester Food & Drink<br />

Festival’s Food & Drink Retailer of the<br />

Year. Oh and we came top of Ethical<br />

Consumer’s national supermarket<br />

ranking.<br />

We’re not in it <strong>for</strong> the glory but<br />

we are proud to demonstrate what a<br />

worker-owned business with values<br />

can achieve ... and not despite those<br />

factors, but because of them.<br />

Do you wish to grow your co-op? If<br />

so, to what size, and why?<br />

On the whole we’re not looking to grow<br />

our own co-op past this size, but we are<br />

pretty passionate about growing the<br />

worker co-op economy as a whole!<br />

We hope to inspire and support others<br />

to use what we’ve learned to set up or<br />

develop their own co-ops; to that end<br />

we have a guide to our business model<br />

– Grow a Grocery – that is completely<br />

free to access, and (capacity allowing)<br />

we can offer support on the phone or<br />

host visits from people who are further<br />

along in the journey. We are also active<br />

members of Solidfund – the UK’s worker<br />

co-op solidarity fund – and we’ve sat<br />

on the Worker Co-op Council <strong>for</strong> almost<br />

a decade. We bang on about worker<br />

co-ops in the shop all the time - we want<br />

customers to know how important it is<br />

to us!<br />


What is Victory Gardens?<br />

A worker co-op that trans<strong>for</strong>ms urban<br />

environments into food-focused<br />

ecological landscapes.<br />

Running since: 2013.<br />

Number of members: Three<br />

What challenges or opportunities<br />

have you faced as a small co-op?<br />

As a small *seasonal* co-op, we<br />

have struggled in the past with<br />

maintaining income through the<br />

winter months and retaining seasonal<br />

staff year over year.<br />

However, we also find that<br />

as a small co-op, we are able to<br />

adapt more quickly (especially to<br />

changing factors like a pandemic!),<br />

collaborate as a team in a meaningful<br />

and productive way, and keep our<br />

operations efficient.<br />

Do you wish to grow your co-op? If<br />

so, to what size, and why?<br />

We are interested in growing our coop,<br />

but only to a “medium size”.<br />

We find we need more members<br />

in order to keep the business<br />

sustainable in terms of the services<br />

we offer and to capitalise on sales<br />

opportunities.<br />

Victory Gardens is exploring<br />

options <strong>for</strong> membership in different<br />

sectors of the business (ie operations,<br />

sales), so that our board of directors<br />

can remain focused on management<br />

and long-term vision.<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 43

The Hive and<br />

Community Shares<br />

Booster Programme<br />

Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

p Growing the<br />

community: Sutton<br />

Community Farm<br />

Co-ops looking to grow face a number of<br />

challenges: not least, raising funds, finding<br />

the right skills and responding to changing<br />

circumstances. In the UK, one of the places they<br />

can look to is The Hive, a support programme<br />

delivered by Co-operatives UK with funds from<br />

the Co-op Bank.<br />

Petra Morris, co-op development manager at<br />

Co-operatives UK, says that although The Hive is<br />

open to any co-op or business wishing to convert<br />

to a co-op, it tends to be smaller business who<br />

find it most useful: “I think generally because<br />

they’re either new or they haven’t got that access<br />

to their own resources, they tend to come to us as<br />

a first port of call.”<br />

The Hive offers up to 10 days of bespoke<br />

support, training and mentoring <strong>for</strong> groups who<br />

want to set-up a co-op, existing co‐operatives in<br />

need of support or businesses looking to convert<br />

to co-op or community ownership.<br />

“We try to be quite tailored and specific, and<br />

quite flexible, according to the needs of each<br />

co-operative,” says Ms Morris. “But it’s often<br />

around finance and strategy and continuing to<br />

be sustainable good businesses going <strong>for</strong>ward.”<br />

For start-ups, the focus is often around<br />

registering, getting set up and developing a<br />

business plan. But existing co-ops can also get<br />

support, including help with strategy, marketing<br />

or member engagement, or anything else that<br />

might help them be more sustainable.<br />

In 2020, Northern Irish brewery co-op Lacada<br />

sought help to reinvigorate their business after<br />

five years’ trading and received advice around<br />

governance and membership engagement.<br />

“Now our margins are better, our meetings are<br />

much shorter and our board members are much<br />

happier,” they reported.<br />

Many co-ops who seek help from The Hive<br />

are pursuing some <strong>for</strong>m of growth. But that can<br />

mean a number of things. “It doesn’t necessarily<br />

mean it has to be about greater profits or higher<br />

turnover or more employees,” says Ms Morris,<br />

“because growth <strong>for</strong> co-ops often is different<br />

from traditional businesses. So we emphasise<br />

that growth can be about changing the business<br />

model, going into new markets, developing new<br />

products, it can be about more members, it can<br />

be about better engagement.<br />

“Co-operatives are there to serve their<br />

members and they have a purpose. And some<br />

are very geographical and community based…<br />

so growth <strong>for</strong> them is more about the quality of<br />

the service they are providing.”<br />

Co-operatives UK also delivers the Community<br />

Shares Booster Programme, which supports<br />

44 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

groups in England looking at community share<br />

offers with development grants and matched<br />

funding. Community shares is a <strong>for</strong>m of equity<br />

only available to co-operative and community<br />

benefit societies. It enables the co-op to raise<br />

flexible finance and gives members a stake in the<br />

business, on the basis of one member, one vote,<br />

regardless of how much they put in.<br />

“Community shares is very patient, flexible<br />

finance,” says Isla McCulloch, community<br />

shares standards manager at Co-operatives UK.<br />

“You’ve got access to capital that’s not on strict<br />

repayment terms and you can spend it how you<br />

like, within the parameters of your business.<br />

Access to that kind of money is really difficult<br />

to find in the third sector and the social sector.<br />

You’ve either got grants with lots of conditions or<br />

you’ve got loans which are often quite expensive.<br />

So the nature of the money is appealing.”<br />

But it also requires community buy-in, says Ms<br />

McCulloch: “The asset, whether it’s a skate park<br />

or a pub, needs to be something that people feel<br />

strongly about enough as a community that they<br />

want to be maintained <strong>for</strong> generations.”<br />

In 2017, Sutton Community Farm launched a<br />

community share offer with the support of the<br />

Booster Programme, raising almost £100,000,<br />

with nearly £50,000 coming from the Booster<br />

match. The funds enabled it to build a barn and<br />

increase its membership from 141 to 408.<br />

While many community co-ops have small<br />

staff and less than a £1m turnover, they are larger<br />

when it comes to membership. “It’s all about<br />

lots of people putting in a little bit of money and<br />

getting this big total that enables them to buy the<br />

pub or community hub or whatever it is. You’re<br />

talking about small co-ops that have hundreds,<br />

potentially thousands, of members.”<br />

Many of these groups are also volunteer-led,<br />

meaning that the economic transaction of the<br />

co-op is less than that of a traditional business.<br />

“It’s driven by passion, it’s driven by this real<br />

care <strong>for</strong> community,” says Ms McCulloch. “But<br />

it has certain challenges associated with that.”<br />

Where societies have board members with<br />

the required skills, knowledge and time to run<br />

a business, things progress much faster. But this<br />

can mean that some members of the community,<br />

such as parents or young people juggling work<br />

commitments, may find it harder to get involved,<br />

she warns. “And that’s the point in the fund and<br />

the grant, to try to augment that capacity, bring<br />

in external expertise so they don’t have to have it<br />

all in house, and really help move groups along<br />

and help take them to the next level.”<br />

While launching a community shares offer can<br />

be a boost, it is easier in certain sectors.<br />

“[When it comes to shops and pubs] co-ops<br />

can better exist in that ecosystem, because<br />

there’s a precedent <strong>for</strong> other small, ethical or<br />

independent businesses to operate. But there are<br />

sectors of our life where that’s very hard,” says<br />

Ms McCulloch, citing energy and care as two of<br />

these particularly challenging sectors.<br />

“With a lot of the community shops and pubs,<br />

there’s market failure, so communities and coops<br />

are stepping into address market failure,<br />

and the co-operative model has a competitive<br />

advantage, either through things like volunteer<br />

time or community buy-in, that then enables<br />

the business to succeed and provide the service<br />

that’s required. Whereas in [other sectors] there<br />

is competition with private finance backing.”<br />

One opportunity <strong>for</strong> growth that is seen across<br />

the co-operative movement, is replicability – one<br />

of the reasons that the “community shop and<br />

pub model has just boomed” says Ms McCulloch.<br />

There is evidence it works, and guides on what to<br />

do and how to do it.<br />

The word replicate “is the key to cooperatives”,<br />

says Ms Morris. She explains that<br />

this is where The Hive’s peer mentoring work<br />

comes in, embodying the sixth co-operative<br />

principle of co-operation among co-ops. “I<br />

think this distinguishes co-ops from traditional<br />

businesses … co-operatives are always keen to<br />

see more co-ops in their sector and are keen to<br />

support them and share their knowledge and<br />

experience.”<br />

Ms McCulloch adds, “It’s the most satisfying<br />

thing to help others set up, and then they make<br />

it their own,” adding “I think running any kind<br />

of co-op business is hard work so you don’t really<br />

want to keep growing and keep growing.”<br />

“What I’m excited to see is new sectors coming<br />

through like housing, and other community<br />

hubs. And you see it in parts like West Yorkshire,<br />

or even Manchester, and the South West as well,<br />

there’s a lot of community activity and there’s a<br />

snowball effect. Where there’s been successful<br />

ones, people are like, ‘yes, we can do the same’.<br />

And then they work with each other to make<br />

it happen.”<br />

p Top: Nudge<br />

Community Builders<br />

secured £206,750<br />

with 165 investors<br />

in 67 days to bring<br />

<strong>for</strong>mer pub The<br />

Clipper back into use<br />

<strong>for</strong> community benefit<br />

p Above: FC United<br />

of Manchester – a<br />

community owned<br />

football club<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 45

When small<br />

means strong:<br />


Miles Hadfield<br />

Launched in Camden, north London, in<br />

2019, Cooperation Town is a network of small<br />

community co-ops that organise hyper-local<br />

neighbourhoods into food-buying clubs.<br />

The scheme means members can save 30-40%<br />

on food bills through shared bulk purchasing,<br />

but it is also leveraging its small-scale model to<br />

empower working class neighbourhoods through<br />

non-hierarchical, autonomous, collective action.<br />

It has 14 co-ops in operation, with another 10<br />

ready <strong>for</strong> launch and many more in the pipeline.<br />

The team has also produced its Starter Pack, a<br />

guide <strong>for</strong> people looking to set up a co-op, and<br />

has so far distributed around 1,000 copies.<br />

Organisers are working on a drive to see one<br />

running in every neighbourhood in Camden,<br />

which will also be the site of a new logistics hub.<br />

Cooperation Town hopes this warehouse can<br />

help them achieve greater economies of scale<br />

without individual co-ops having to get too big.<br />

“A 20 household co-op can buy a big bag of<br />

rice and share it, which brings savings <strong>for</strong> each<br />

member – but at the warehouse, we can buy<br />

five tons of rice,” says co-founder Shiri Shalmy.<br />

“It’s almost like a co-op of co-ops, but there’s no<br />

membership relationship to us – the individual<br />

co-ops are not members of our co-op. They’re<br />

autonomous. The reason that we’re able to do<br />

that is because we were able to secure funding<br />

from the Lottery and from the Joseph Rowntree<br />

Charitable Trust, and from local authorities.<br />

That means we’re not reliant on our members<br />

to sustain the network or ourselves as an<br />

organisation – that would not be okay.”<br />

New co-ops on the Cooperation Town model<br />

are <strong>for</strong>med in two different ways – people hear<br />

of it through word of mouth and approach the<br />

group. “Or we might be working with another<br />

organisation like a local food network, a<br />

community group or a local authority and reach<br />

out to people already in those networks – it could<br />

be a tenants and residents’ association (TRA), a<br />

faith group, the users of a community centre. We<br />

present the idea and support them in organising.”<br />

The small scale works because it keeps the<br />

model to “people who already have some link<br />

between them,” adds Ms Shalmy. “It could be<br />

just that they live on the same street or estate.<br />

But they’re small <strong>for</strong> different reasons; one is<br />

that we don’t want to make people’s lives more<br />

difficult, it shouldn’t be about having to travel<br />

somewhere far to be part of a food co-op.<br />

“And we want everyone to have a role in the<br />

co-op; keeping it to 20 members means that<br />

everyone gets to do something – at least on<br />

rotation, it could be picking stuff up, it could be<br />

unpacking, it could mean being the treasurer.”<br />

Limiting the size helps keep decision making<br />

and communication “democratic, open and<br />

inclusive,” she says. “Some co-ops are bigger<br />

than 20 households, some are smaller. We don’t<br />

tell people what to do, but we do suggest that,<br />

once they get to, say 25 or 30, they split. So we<br />

end up with more co-ops, and more people who<br />

have developed the confidence to organise as a<br />

co-op, who are feeling that they have the skills<br />

and experience to share with new neighbours.<br />

They don’t need us anymore, because they are<br />

already community organisers.”<br />

This is hopefully a way of building local power,<br />

she adds. “It’s people on the same estate, the<br />

46 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

same street, organising around something that<br />

is very low risk, that everyone needs. It’s multigenerational,<br />

it’s multicultural, it’s people from<br />

different backgrounds who had been connected<br />

only by a postcode. They’re now sourcing quality<br />

food <strong>for</strong> less money, sharing recipes but also,<br />

crucially, learning to solve problems together.<br />

“It’s a kind of power that is transferable to<br />

other issues – we’re already seeing our members<br />

incorporate co-ops organising around other<br />

things, like childcare, gardening or housing,<br />

because they have learned to build power around<br />

something very easy. To me, this is something<br />

that needs to be practised on a hyper-local<br />

level. These are local issues that affect people<br />

immediately. They’re not big campaigns. They’re<br />

not national policy changes. This is building<br />

power with our neighbours.<br />

“We are seeing people getting involved in other<br />

things because they have met their neighbours<br />

and realised there are other common issues<br />

beyond af<strong>for</strong>dable food. The best example is<br />

members of Cooperation Walthamstow in north<br />

London, one of the members was being evicted<br />

from her house with three children. She’s not<br />

a political organiser, not somebody who knew<br />

how to resist this, but her co-op rallied around<br />

her and defended her. There was an eviction<br />

resistance and the bailiffs did not enter this<br />

house. This member and her children got to<br />

stay in their house that day because her co-op<br />

organised the neighbourhood to defend her.”<br />

The hyper-local model also means things<br />

don’t get too bureaucratic, says Ms Shalmy,<br />

with little scope <strong>for</strong> management capture or one<br />

individual taking too much power. Meanwhile,<br />

the co-op structure elevates members who<br />

would otherwise be marginalised. “When we<br />

first started organising, some people said,<br />

‘where’s the manager?’ Then we talked about it<br />

and realised that we don’t need one. These are<br />

the things co-op members are learning together,<br />

talking about ownership and collective decision<br />

making; allowing room <strong>for</strong> mistakes and<br />

learning from those.”<br />

She adds: “Our own organisation, which is a<br />

worker co-op, is quite small. We have four core<br />

members and at the moment, we’re employing<br />

three other people on a project basis. We are<br />

looking to grow, but we’re trying to grow slowly.<br />

We get calls from local authorities, probably once<br />

a week, asking to roll out the model, but we’re<br />

not going to do it right now, because we want to<br />

grow slowly. We want to make sure we’re doing<br />

it well. Councils come to us because we provide<br />

a solution that doesn’t cost a lot of money; it’s<br />

basically the cost of a part time organiser, and<br />





it is sustainable, it’s long term. You can build it<br />

and then you can let it replicate and grow. We’re<br />

in this weird place where local authorities love<br />

us, without us hiding our politics. We’re really<br />

open about our politics, we’re talking about the<br />

real problem being poverty wages on the one<br />

hand and parasite landlords on the other. We’re<br />

working with Co-operate Islington, which is the<br />

first co-op development agency set up since 1974,<br />

and we’re pushing to set another up in Camden.<br />

“And if someone else has come up with<br />

something that can work well within the model,<br />

we’ll be happy to work with them. If you’re a<br />

childcare co-op, or a food-growing co-op, we<br />

would work with you where we already have<br />

food co-ops organising, be<strong>for</strong>e we work with<br />

another local authority.”<br />

Food and energy prices are rising – but, says<br />

Ms Shalmy, “poverty was there already. We hear<br />

people talking about energy costs and food costs<br />

and that could mean more people who haven’t<br />

so far felt squeezed – we might see middle class<br />

people looking <strong>for</strong> a collective solution.”<br />

But Cooperation Town does not want to dilute<br />

its purpose. “If it means there are more co-ops,<br />

that’s a good thing, as long as the structure is<br />

robust enough to make sure that there isn’t a<br />

middle-class takeover. We’re very clear about<br />

our politics, that this is a working class project,<br />

we’re organising <strong>for</strong> power in our class.”<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 47


Collaborating<br />

<strong>for</strong> co-operation<br />

Susan Press<br />

q Tenants meeting at<br />

Space4<br />

A radical wave of co-operative initiatives is<br />

aiming to trans<strong>for</strong>m life <strong>for</strong> local people in<br />

Islington. The ambitious plans are inspired by<br />

innovative ideas on community wealth building<br />

which made Preston and its council a beacon of<br />

hope, despite over 10 years of economic austerity<br />

<strong>for</strong> local government.<br />

What became known as the ‘Preston Model’<br />

offered new opportunities <strong>for</strong> businesses to play<br />

an active role in shaping their local economy,<br />

working with the local authority to supply<br />

goods and services so money stayed in the local<br />

economy <strong>for</strong> those who needed it most.<br />

The recent launch of Cooperate Islington<br />

offers more opportunities. Here, a consortium<br />

of co-operatives and community organisers is<br />

working in partnership with Islington Council<br />

to build a local authority-funded co-operative<br />

development agency (CDA) – the first of its<br />

kind <strong>for</strong> 40 years – offering funding, advice,<br />

workspace and other resources, working with<br />

some of the biggest institutions in the borough<br />

and helping them adapt supply chains to buy<br />

goods and services locally from ethical providers.<br />

Stir to Action, a long-established co-operative<br />

supporting economic change and strategic<br />

development, is closely involved in the<br />

partnership.<br />

Jonny Gordon-Farleigh, Stir To Action cofounder,<br />

says: “Many people have been looking<br />

at how the Preston Model might apply in a<br />

different context, such as a metropolitan borough<br />

where there are immense levels of private capital<br />

coexisting with areas of deprivation. This is<br />

the culmination of a lot of work supporting the<br />

co-operative, inclusive economy and we’re in<br />

position to continue to build on it. This is a big<br />

moment – there hasn’t been a new CDA funded<br />

by a council <strong>for</strong> a few decades.”<br />

In 2010, Islington Council’s Fairness<br />

Commission took serious steps to tackle stark<br />

inequalities. Statistics showed Islington might<br />

be home to some of the wealthiest people in the<br />

country, but it was also an area where over half<br />

its children were growing up in poverty.<br />

Islington Council became one of the first<br />

boroughs to pay the London Living Wage. It<br />

introduced free school meals <strong>for</strong> all nursery and<br />

primary school children, and created a new inhouse<br />

employment services team – iWork – that<br />

has supported 5,500 people back into work.<br />

The social impact was impressive but fast<br />

<strong>for</strong>ward to <strong>2022</strong> and the figures show there is still<br />

a massive disconnect between the big flows of<br />

capital and multi-national businesses and small<br />

businesses facing the impact of rapidly rising<br />

prices <strong>for</strong> office space.<br />

Islington’s new Community Wealth Building<br />

directorate has been tasked with ensuring things<br />

become more inclusive and that money stays in<br />

the local economy.<br />

A driving <strong>for</strong>ce behind it is Cllr Asima Shaikh,<br />

executive member <strong>for</strong> inclusive economy<br />

and jobs. With a background in international<br />

economic development and a previous role<br />

in the Economic Unit of the Greater London<br />

Authority, she is passionate about improving<br />

lives, particularly <strong>for</strong> the borough’s working<br />

class and BAME communities.<br />

“By traditional measures Islington is wealthy<br />

– but this supposedly successful and wealthy<br />

economy doesn’t work <strong>for</strong> many local people. We<br />

needed to look at how we can have an economy<br />

48 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong>

which delivers the best <strong>for</strong> local people, spending<br />

resources on the poorest. Everything we did had<br />

that lens to it, targeting communities where help<br />

is needed.”<br />

The council is using its £1.2 m funding from the<br />

mayor’s Good Growth Fund (which it matched<br />

with another £1m) to intervene in a number of<br />

ways, including increasing the amount of social<br />

values expected from procurement – doubled<br />

from 10 to 20%.<br />

It is also working with anchor institutions<br />

– large social buyers and employers – like the<br />

Whittington Hospital and City University to<br />

maximise employment opportunities.<br />

Among the five social value indicators that<br />

feature in the bidding process is the extent to<br />

which providers plan to support women and<br />

unemployed residents to get back into work,<br />

and how many disabled, young ex-offenders,<br />

and black or minority ethnic staff they expect to<br />

employ. To date, the programme has generated<br />

over £1m of additional value.<br />

Af<strong>for</strong>dable Workspaces, a council-led market<br />

intervention, already offers long-term leases of<br />

10-20 years on peppercorn rents to create office<br />

space <strong>for</strong> co-operatives, social enterprises and<br />

other entrepreneurs. It has now delivered more<br />

than 2,520sqm of space and secured a further<br />

2,824sqm from new developments to deliver in<br />

the next five years.<br />

In 2019, the first tender was awarded to<br />

Outlandish, a local tech co-operative, which is<br />

now managing Space4 as a co-working space <strong>for</strong><br />

pro-social tech businesses. The anchor tenant is<br />

Founders & Coders, a tech non-profit that offers<br />

training programmes in web development.<br />

The space is operated on a ‘pay what you can’<br />

model, with 50% benefiting from a partial or full<br />

discount. Outlandish is also at the <strong>for</strong>efront of<br />

the development of the new CDA.<br />

One of the initiatives benefiting from the<br />

scheme is Wings, an ethical courier co-operative,<br />

launched in July 2021, with many riders who<br />

were part of an initiative to deliver emergency<br />

food parcels during the first Covid-19 lockdown.<br />

It’s currently the only food courier business that<br />

guarantees the London Living Wage, offering sick<br />

pay and benefits, unlike most other competitors<br />

in the gig economy.<br />

Similarly, a disused retail space in Fonthill<br />

Road, Finsbury Park, is now home to the FC<br />

Designer Collective, a partnership between<br />

Islington Council, local communities and<br />

garment industry co-operative Fashion-Enter,<br />

providing local designers with a high street<br />

outlet to sell their work. In lieu of rent, it provides<br />

business mentoring and training in tailoring and<br />

needlework to local creatives and community<br />

groups, to help kick-start their careers in the<br />

garment industry.<br />

In late autumn 2021, Islington council granted<br />

£250,000 to Outlandish and Hackney Cooperative<br />

Development, in partnership with<br />

Stir to Action and Principle Six, to launch an<br />

advice and grants programme – with at least<br />

40% of beneficiaries from women and BAME<br />

backgrounds – and to support the development<br />

of the new CDA.<br />

The plan is to launch an independent body<br />

in Autumn <strong>2022</strong>, working with the council’s<br />

Community Wealth Building directorate, the<br />

council’s partnerships, and networks within<br />

Islington to build new capacities and create a<br />

pipeline of co-operatives.<br />

It is still early days but so far, over 250 people<br />

have been supported into employment through<br />

new job opportunities, overcoming previous<br />

barriers in the process.<br />

And it is hoped the new CDA will be a real<br />

game-changer, inspiring other local authorities<br />

across the country to follow suit.<br />

Councillor Shaikh said: “All the initiatives<br />

mentioned are attempting to get benefits <strong>for</strong><br />

local residents. We want to support co-ops to<br />

link in with our procurement team and would<br />

love to commission them to develop services that<br />

are currently outsourced.<br />

“We have a good track record but now in the<br />

context of the post-Covid world, we need to look<br />

again at how you restructure the economy and<br />

make things different, challenging ourselves to<br />

have more grassroots, community-based co-ops<br />

in poorer communities.”<br />

p Top: Wings<br />

co-founder Rich<br />

Mason and Cllr Asima<br />

Shaikh launch the new<br />

ethical food delivery<br />

co-op<br />

p Above: Jannaty<br />

women’s group, led by<br />

Majida Sayam (in the<br />

white hijab). is one of<br />

the groups using the<br />

shared space<br />

APRIL <strong>2022</strong> | 49

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-operative<br />

event – taking place in<br />

person, online, or as a<br />

hybrid – to be featured?<br />

Tell us at:<br />

events@thenews.coop<br />

UK Worker Co-op Weekend<br />

29 <strong>April</strong>-1 May (Devon, England)<br />

A weekend <strong>for</strong> worker co-ops to learn,<br />

share and be inspired – and take part in<br />

a conversation about the future of the<br />

worker co-op movement.<br />

bit.ly/3Ibil78<br />

Cooperatives Europe General Assembly<br />

24-25 May (Cardiff, Wales)<br />

The General Assembly will open the<br />

first day with a conference on youth and<br />

sustainable business in coordination with<br />

the Youth European Cooperative Network<br />

(YECN). The second day will be dedicated<br />

to statutory business and by-elections.<br />

The GA will be an opportunity to exchange<br />

in a dynamic way on its vision <strong>for</strong> the next<br />

four years.<br />

bit.ly/3vbPXxX<br />

ICA General Assembly<br />

20 June (Seville, Spain)<br />

The next ICA General Assembly will be<br />

hosted by the Spanish Confederation of<br />

Worker Cooperatives (COCETA) in Seville,<br />

Spain, and will include the elections <strong>for</strong><br />

the ICA President and board of directors.<br />

bit.ly/3IhUvqu<br />

50 | APRIL <strong>2022</strong><br />

UK Co-operative Congress<br />

24- 25 June (Birmingham, UK)<br />

Details tbc.<br />

International Day of Co-operatives<br />

2 July<br />

Playground <strong>for</strong> the New Economy<br />

12-14 July (Devon)<br />

Stir to Action’s Playground <strong>for</strong> the New<br />

Economy Festival is returning to its<br />

residential campus at Selgars Mill in Mid<br />

Devon <strong>for</strong> three days of panels, workshops,<br />

open space, virtual reality experiences,<br />

sustainable food, and live music.<br />

stirtoaction.com/festival<br />

World Credit Union Conference<br />

17-20 July (Glasgow)<br />

The World Council of Credit Unions will cohost<br />

its conference with the Association of<br />

British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL).<br />

Speakers include cyber security analyst<br />

Keren Elazari and behavioural science<br />

expert Belinda Parmar.<br />

wcuc.org<br />

Co-op Party Conference<br />

8-9 October (Leeds)<br />

The Co-operative Party’s showcase of<br />

co-operative politics and the largest<br />

political online gathering of the year <strong>for</strong><br />

the UK co‐operative movement.<br />

party.coop/event/annconf022<br />

ICMIF Centenary Conference<br />

25-28 October <strong>2022</strong> (Rome)<br />

The ICMIF Centenary Conference will be<br />

an event that stimulates original ideas <strong>for</strong><br />

better business per<strong>for</strong>mance; that offers<br />

clear insights into the trends that are<br />

shaping the future of our industry; that<br />

provides a full and clear understanding<br />

of the powerful role that the sector too<br />

can play in redesigning insurance. The<br />

Centenary Conference will be hosted<br />

by the Unipol Group, one of ICMIF’s<br />

founding members, in Rome, where the<br />

organisation was founded 100 years ago.<br />


01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

9<br />

0<br />

150 years of independent, co-operative journalism<br />

150 years of independent, co-operative journalism<br />

150 years of independent, co-operat 15<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

henews.coop<br />

news news Issue #7334 AUGUST 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha challenging lenging<br />

news news<br />

Issue #7334<br />

groups, past, present<br />

and future ... the schools<br />

teaching co-operation by<br />

doing ... the 16-year-old on<br />

a mission to make co-ops<br />

fairer <strong>for</strong> young people<br />

N 0009-9821<br />

8 2 0 1 0<br />

s.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

.thenews.coop<br />

Plus … Co-op Youth<br />

groups, past, present<br />

and future ... the schools<br />

teaching co-operation by<br />

01<br />

doing ... the 16-year-old on<br />

a mission to make co-ops<br />

fairer <strong>for</strong> young people<br />

Issue #7328<br />




Plus … How Brexit wi l<br />

affect co-op businesses ...<br />

Latest statistics from the<br />

World Co-op Monitor... The<br />

Hive begins anothe round of<br />

funding and support<br />

£4.20<br />

01<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

£4.20<br />

£4.20<br />

news news<br />

FEBRUARY 2021<br />

Issue #7334<br />


TO A NEW<br />


news news<br />


TO A NEW<br />


Plus … Co-op Youth<br />

Issue #7330<br />

Plus … Scotland’s farm<br />

co-ops hold their annual<br />

conference ... How co-ops are<br />

working <strong>for</strong> food justice ...<br />

Encouraging women’s voices<br />

in co-operation<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

AUGUST 2021<br />

news news<br />

APRIL 2021<br />



CO-OP MODEL?<br />

AUGUST 2021<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />


TO A NEW<br />


Plus … Co-op Youth<br />

groups, past, present<br />

and future ... the schools<br />

teaching co-operation by<br />

doing ... the 16-year-old on<br />

a mission to make co-ops<br />

fairer <strong>for</strong> young people<br />

£4.20<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

AUGUST 2021<br />

CO-OPS AND<br />



Plus … Report from<br />

the UKSCS conference ...<br />

... Co-op Group supply<br />

disruption, Afghanistan<br />

and ‘ghosted’ youth ... US<br />

co-ops rush to help after<br />

Hurricane Ida<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

OCTOBER 2021<br />

JANUARY <strong>2022</strong><br />



Full coverage of the ICA’s 33rd<br />

JANUARY <strong>2022</strong> World Cooperative Congress<br />

Plus … Launch of the 10th<br />

World Cooperative Monitor …<br />


Interview<br />

OUR<br />

with Rob Harrison,<br />

COOPERATIVE author of The IDENTITY’<br />

Handbook<br />

of Ethical Purchasing …<br />

Full coverage MPs of debate the debate ICA’s the 33rd<br />

contribution of co-ops and<br />

World Cooperative mutuals to the Congress<br />

UK<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

Plus … Launch of the 10th<br />

World Cooperative Monitor …<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

Interview with Rob Harrison,<br />

author of The Handbook<br />

of Ethical Purchasing<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

…<br />

MPs debate debate the<br />

contribution of co-ops and<br />

mutuals to the UK<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

Space to<br />

work<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

£4.20<br />

the UKSCS conference ...<br />

... Co-op Group supply<br />

disruption, Afghanistan<br />

and ‘ghosted’ youth ... US<br />

co-ops rush to help after<br />

Hurricane Ida<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

CO-OPS AND<br />



Plus … Report from<br />

the UKSCS conference ...<br />

... Co-op Group supply<br />

disruption, Afghanistan<br />

and ‘ghosted’ youth ... US<br />

co-ops rush to help after<br />

Hurricane Ida<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

OCTOBER 2021<br />

CO-OPS AND<br />



Plus … Report from<br />

CO-OP<br />


SEASON<br />

Plus … UK report on<br />

co-op climate action ...<br />

Countdown to the World<br />

Cooperative Congress ...<br />

Q&A with ICA president Ariel<br />

Guarco ... and part one of our<br />

Co-op Christmas Gift Guide<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

news news Issue #7328 FEBRUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

OCTOBER 2021<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

£4.20<br />

CO-OP<br />


SEASON<br />

Plus … UK report on<br />

co-op climate action ...<br />

Countdown to the World<br />

Cooperative Congress ...<br />

Q&A with ICA president Ariel<br />

Guarco ... and part one of our<br />

Co-op Christmas Gift Guide<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

NOVEMBER 2021<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

news news Issue #7330 APRIL 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, cha chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

World Cooperative Monitor …<br />

Interview with Rob Harrison,<br />

author of The Handbook<br />

of Ethical Purchasing …<br />

MPs debate debate the<br />

contribution of co-ops and<br />

mutuals to the UK<br />

news news Issue #7333 JULY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

01<br />


The strength of co-ops<br />

learning together<br />

Plus … Lessons co-op<br />

organising from Cincinnati …<br />

A co-operative future DECEMBER <strong>for</strong> the 2021<br />

waterways? … How Blair Ki led<br />

the Co-ops: a review … and<br />

Part 2 of our Co-op Christmas<br />

Gift Guide PEER LEARNING<br />

The strength of co-ops<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

learning together<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop Plus … Lessons co-op<br />

organising from Cincinnati …<br />

A co-operative future <strong>for</strong> the<br />

waterways? … How Blair Killed<br />

the Co-ops: a review … and<br />

Part 2 of our Co-op Christmas<br />

Gift Guide<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

NOVEMBER 2021<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

news news Issue #7333 JULY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

Plus … Launch of the 10th<br />

£4.20<br />

£4.20<br />

co-op climate action ...<br />

Countdown to the World<br />

Cooperative Congress ...<br />

Q&A with ICA president Ariel<br />

Guarco ... and part one of our<br />

Co-op Christmas Gift Guide<br />

news news Issue #7327 JANUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

news news Issue #7327 JANUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

Space to<br />

grow<br />

news news Issue #7328 FEBRUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

CO-OP<br />


SEASON<br />

Plus … UK report on<br />

JANUARY <strong>2022</strong><br />



Full coverage of the ICA’s 33rd<br />

World Cooperative Congress<br />

£4.20<br />

news news Issue #7328 FEBRUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha lenging lenging<br />

DECEMBER 2021<br />

Leading the movement in workspaces <strong>for</strong> those who lead the change,<br />

with spaces currently available to rent<br />

Space <strong>for</strong><br />

change<br />

Visit www.ethicalproperty.co.uk Email sales@ethicalproperty.co.uk or call 01865 207 810 to find out more<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

CONGRESS 2021:<br />



Plus … The ethics of<br />

franchising ... Co-ops v<br />

competition law ... Q&A:<br />

Chris Packham ... the<br />

co-op homes of three<br />

women justices<br />

£4.20<br />

Plus … The ethics of<br />

franchising ... Co-ops v<br />

competition law ... Q&A:<br />

Chris Packham ... the<br />

co-op homes of three<br />

women justices<br />

NOVEMBER 2021<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

affect co-op businesses ...<br />

Latest statistics from the<br />

World Co-op Monitor... The<br />

Hive begins another round of<br />

funding and support<br />

news news Issue #7334 AUGUST 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

01<br />

JULY 2021<br />

CONGRESS 2021:<br />



£4.20<br />




Plus … How Brexit will<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

Plus … How Brexit will<br />

affect co-op businesses ...<br />

Latest statistics from the<br />

World Co-op Monitor... The<br />

Hive begins another round of<br />

funding and support<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

JULY 2021<br />

news news Issue #7333 JULY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

Plus … How Brexit wi l<br />

affect co-op businesses ...<br />

Latest statistics from the<br />

World Co-op Monitor... The<br />

Hive begins another round of<br />

funding and support<br />

£4.20<br />




news news Issue #7332 JUNE 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha lenging lenging<br />

JANUARY 2021<br />

WHY AREN’T<br />


JANUARY 2021<br />

CO-OPS?<br />

WHY AREN’T<br />

THERE MORE Plus … New international<br />

CO-OPS? working group <strong>for</strong> UK co-ops<br />

... Kay Johnson’s work on food<br />

fairness in Preston ... New York<br />

Plus … New international<br />

working group <strong>for</strong> taxi UK drivers co-ops launch fundraiser<br />

... Kay Johnson’s <strong>for</strong> work plat<strong>for</strong>m on food co-op<br />

fairness in Preston ... New York<br />

taxi drivers launch fundraiser<br />

<strong>for</strong> plat<strong>for</strong>m co-op ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

01<br />

FEBRUARY 2021<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

news news Issue #7332 JUNE 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, challenging<br />

lenging<br />

co-ops hold their annual<br />

conference ... How co-ops are<br />

working <strong>for</strong> food justice ...<br />

Encouraging women’s voices<br />

in co-operation<br />




01<br />

£4.20<br />

£4.20<br />

organising from Cincinnati …<br />

A co-operative future <strong>for</strong> the<br />

waterways? … How Blair Killed<br />

the Co-ops: a review … and<br />

Part 2 of our Co-op Christmas<br />

Gift Guide<br />

FEBRUARY 2021<br />

APRIL 2021<br />



CO-OP MODEL?<br />

Plus … Scotland’s farm<br />

FEBRUARY 2021<br />

Plus … Lessons in co-op<br />

£4.20<br />

news news Issue #7328 FEBRUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha chalenginglenging<br />

£4.20<br />

DECEMBER 2021<br />


The strength of co-ops<br />

learning together<br />

Plus … The co-ops tackling<br />

global de<strong>for</strong>estation ... Mark<br />

Drake<strong>for</strong>d Robert Owen at<br />

250 ... A new chaper <strong>for</strong> the<br />

New Internationalist ... Retail<br />

results round-up<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

news news Issue #7327 JANUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

£4.20<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

JUNE 2021<br />




groups, past, present<br />

and future ... the schools<br />

teaching co-operation by<br />

doing ... the 16-year-old on<br />

a mission to make co-ops<br />

fairer <strong>for</strong> young people<br />

Plus … The co-ops tackling<br />

global de<strong>for</strong>estation ... Mark<br />

Drake<strong>for</strong>d Robert Owen at<br />

250 ... A new chaper <strong>for</strong> the<br />

New Internationalist ... Retail<br />

results round-up<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

news news Issue #7327 JANUARY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, champion champion<br />

£4.20<br />

JANUARY 2021 Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

01<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

£4.20<br />


TO A NEW<br />


Plus … Co-op Youth<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

JUNE 2021<br />




www.thenews.coop<br />



FUTURE<br />

Plus … Co-ops respond<br />

to the IPCC climate report<br />

... The co-op beginnings<br />

of a US Olympian ... Meet:<br />

Nepal’s Om Devi Ma la ...<br />

Celebrating 150 years of<br />

your Co-op News<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

news news Issue #7331 MAY 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

franchising ... Co-ops v<br />

competition law ... Q&A:<br />

Chris Packham ... the<br />

co-op homes of three<br />

women justices<br />

SEPTEMBER 2021<br />

01<br />



FUTURE<br />

Plus … Co-ops respond<br />

to the IPCC climate report<br />

... The co-op beginnings<br />

of a US Olympian ... Meet:<br />

Nepal’s Om Devi Malla ...<br />

Celebrating 150 years of<br />

your Co-op News<br />

01<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

£4.20<br />

£4.20<br />

news news Issue #7330 APRIL 2021<br />

Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, challenging<br />

lenging<br />

MAY 2021 Connecting, championing, cha lenging<br />

Connecting, championing, cha lenging<br />

AUGUST 2021<br />

SEPTEMBER 2021<br />

JULY 2021<br />

CONGRESS 2021:<br />



Plus … The ethics of<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

Plus … New international<br />

working group <strong>for</strong> UK co-ops<br />

... Kay Johnson’s work on food<br />

fairness in Preston ... New York<br />

taxi drivers launch fundraiser<br />

<strong>for</strong> plat<strong>for</strong>m co-op<br />

£4.20<br />

WHY AREN’T<br />


CO-OPS?<br />

01<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

£4.20<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

APRIL 2021 Connecting, championing, cha lenging<br />

Connecting, championing, cha lenging<br />

affect co-op businesses ...<br />

Latest statistics from the<br />

World Co-op Monitor... The<br />

Hive begins another round of<br />

funding and support<br />

JANUARY 2021<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

Plus … New international<br />

working group <strong>for</strong> UK co-ops<br />

... Kay Johnson’s work on food<br />

fairness in Preston ... New York<br />

taxi drivers launch fundraiser<br />

<strong>for</strong> plat<strong>for</strong>m co-op<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

Plus … Credit unions<br />

consider the merger question<br />

... A globa look at youth<br />

empowerment ... Robert Owen:<br />

anniversary of a co-op icon ...<br />

Nigel Todd: A tribute<br />

£4.20<br />

£4.20<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

WHY AREN’T<br />


CO-OPS?<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

JANUARY 2021<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

wo<br />

... Kay<br />

fairness<br />

taxi drivers<br />

<strong>for</strong> plat<strong>for</strong>m c<br />

Plus<br />

consider<br />

... A global<br />

empowermen<br />

anniversary of a<br />

Nigel Todd: A tribut<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

1 Connecting, Connecting, championing, championing, chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

FEBRUARY 2021<br />




Plus … How Brexit will<br />

HOW CO-OP<br />



ISSN 0009-9821<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

MAY 2021<br />

Plus … Where do<br />

co-operatives fit in the new<br />

retai landscape? ... The<br />

humanisation of healthcare<br />

... 90 years of the Rochdale<br />

Pioneers Museum<br />

£4.20<br />

APRIL 2021<br />



CO-OP MODEL?<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />

E<br />

the UKSCS c<br />

... Co-op Group<br />

disruption, Afgha<br />

and ‘ghosted’ youth<br />

co-ops rush to help afte<br />

Hurricane Ida<br />

01<br />

£4.2<br />

Plus …<br />





FRESH<br />

IN A BAG<br />

coffee@revolver.coop<br />

www.revolverworld.com<br />

01902 345 345

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!