Co-op News June 2022

The June edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at co-ops in the leisure sector, from tourism options offered by the movement to the fan-led rescue of Bury Football Club. There's a look at how co-ops interact with the music festival sector and a preview of one of the movement's own festivals, Stir To Action's Playground for the New Economy. And we meet French performing arts co-op Ulysse Maison d’Artistes. We also cover two conferences for the credit union movement – from Abcul and the Swoboda Research Centre – as well as the the Co-op Group's AGM, along with a round-up of the latest financial results from the UK retail co-ops. And there's news of a new independent federation being set up for the UK's worker co-ops.

The June edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at co-ops in the leisure sector, from tourism options offered by the movement to the fan-led rescue of Bury Football Club. There's a look at how co-ops interact with the music festival sector and a preview of one of the movement's own festivals, Stir To Action's Playground for the New Economy. And we meet French performing arts co-op Ulysse Maison d’Artistes. We also cover two conferences for the credit union movement – from Abcul and the Swoboda Research Centre – as well as the the Co-op Group's AGM, along with a round-up of the latest financial results from the UK retail co-ops. And there's news of a new independent federation being set up for the UK's worker co-ops.


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JUNE <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Credit union<br />

conference from Abcul and<br />

Swoboda ... Latest results<br />

from the retail sector ... ICA<br />

presidential candidates<br />

present their pitches<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


The <strong>2022</strong> <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press<br />

Annual General Meeting<br />

We will be convening a virtual AGM in <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

6-7.30pm, Monday 25 July<br />

In accordance with Rule 20 of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Rules, any member may submit a<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osal to the Annual Meeting of members in writing to the Secretary.<br />

The timetable is as follows<br />

5pm, Monday 13 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

Closing Date for Receipt of Pr<strong>op</strong>osals<br />

Monday 27 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

Agenda and Pr<strong>op</strong>osals sent out to members<br />

5pm, Monday, 11 July <strong>2022</strong><br />

Closing date for receipt of amendments to Pr<strong>op</strong>osals.<br />

Tuesday, 12 July <strong>2022</strong><br />

Notice of the final Agenda and the Annual Accounts sent out to members<br />

and made available online.<br />

With regard to amendments to any pr<strong>op</strong>osals (as stated in Rule 21), any member may send to<br />

the directors any amendment to any pr<strong>op</strong>osal appearing on the agenda or any amendment<br />

to any matter forming part of the business of the meeting, and provided such amendment be<br />

received by the secretary prior to the Annual Meeting, it shall be circulated to members as<br />

soon as is practicable as an additional business paper for consideration at the meeting.<br />

Please note that by submitting a pr<strong>op</strong>osal, members are committing themselves to attend the<br />

Annual Meeting if their pr<strong>op</strong>osal is accepted onto the Agenda.<br />

For further updates on the AGM, please visit www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong>/AGM<strong>2022</strong><br />

The Secretary<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Ltd, Holyoake House,<br />

Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s at play – putting their<br />

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Manchester M60 0AS<br />

(00) 44 161 214 0870<br />

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DESIGN<br />

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

Gillian Lonergan; Beverley Perkins;<br />

Shaz Rahman; Lesley Reznicek<br />

Secretary: Richard Bickle<br />

Established in 1871, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>News</strong> is published by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

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@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

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CBP009222<br />

Summer’s here – if a little on the chilly side, as you’d expect in the UK – and<br />

after two years of <strong>Co</strong>vid disruption pe<strong>op</strong>le are ready to enjoy it, with<br />

retail society results noting the effect on their travel businesses (p6-8).<br />

So what better time to take a look at how co-<strong>op</strong>s provide leisure activity?<br />

Festivals have now moved from the counter culture to become a firm fixture<br />

in the calendar. We take a look at how retail societies like Radstock and<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group are interacting with these events, plus some co-<strong>op</strong>run<br />

festivals (p42-43). Stir To Action is also delivering a festival to<br />

facilitate new economy thinking (p36-37), while last month’s Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Weekend laid the groundwork for a new UK federation for the sector<br />

(p26-27).<br />

The festival sector is h<strong>op</strong>ing for a revival after two fallow years under<br />

the pandemic, and the performing arts were hit hard by lockdown<br />

measures. Among the organisations getting back on its feet is French<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> Ulysse Maison d’Artistes, which shares its story with us (p38-39).<br />

We also take a look at some of the co-<strong>op</strong> holiday <strong>op</strong>tions on offer<br />

(p40-41) or, if sport’s more your thing, catch up with Bury AFC, which<br />

has brought its club back from financial disaster by forming a community<br />

benefit society (p44-45).<br />

Last month, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> attended two important conferences for the<br />

credit union movement – organised by Abcul in Manchester and the<br />

Swoboda Research Centre in Dublin. Abcul’s event heard some<br />

important reform pr<strong>op</strong>osals from treasury minister John Glen (p12) and<br />

discussed challenges around mergers, fintech and the cost of living<br />

crisis (p28-30) while the sector researchers gathered by Swoboda<br />

looked at ways to support the green transition (p31-33).<br />

We also take a look at the forthcoming national and international co<strong>op</strong><br />

celebrations (p34-35) and hear pitches from the three candidates for<br />

this year’s election for the post of ICA president (p46-48).<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> 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 />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group announces its latest<br />

plans for home delivery expansion (p10);<br />

Spanish co-<strong>op</strong> Granissat celebrates the<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (p14);<br />

the Iguanodon Restaurant at the<br />

Radstock Arts Festival (p42-43); the<br />

Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Weekend planned a new<br />

federation (p26-27); Midcounties’ Sara<br />

Dunham (p22-23)<br />

22-23 MEET ... SARAH DUNHAM<br />

The head of travel at Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>llective tell us about the three-day<br />

Playground for the New Economy<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … The benefits and<br />

challenges of small-scale co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

... Report from the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Retail <strong>Co</strong>nference ... A<br />

look back on the life and work<br />

of social reformer<br />

Robert Owen<br />

£4.20<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


This sustainable building in Watchet,<br />

Somerset, shows what the next<br />

economy could look like in practice,<br />

says Onion <strong>Co</strong>llective, one of the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

organisations at this year’s Playground<br />

for the New Economy<br />

Read more: p36-37<br />


Preview from co-<strong>op</strong> chair Kate Palser<br />


Siôn Whellens tells us about plans for a<br />

new UK federation of worker co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

28-33 CONFERENCES<br />


British credit unions met in Manchester<br />

to discuss the challenges of growth,<br />

fintech and the cost of living crisis<br />


Credit union experts gathered in Dublin<br />

to look at the transition to sustainability<br />


A look ahead to the International Day of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Fortnight and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>ngress – which marks the centenary of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ngress’s first female chair<br />


36-37 NEW ECONOMY FESTIVAL Jonny<br />

Gordon-Farleigh of Stir to Action and<br />

Jessica Prendergrast of Onion<br />


French performing arts co-<strong>op</strong> Ulysse<br />

Maison d’Artistes takes us through<br />

its journey<br />

40-41 TIME FOR A HOLIDAY<br />

Need to take a break? Here’s some<br />

<strong>op</strong>tions for holidays that stick to the<br />

values of the co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />


From the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s on-site presence<br />

to co-<strong>op</strong>-run music festivals in Scotland<br />

and the USA<br />


How supporters formed a community<br />

benefit society to bring Bury AFC back<br />

from the brink<br />

46-47 ICA ELECTIONS<br />

The three presidential candidates make<br />

their pitches<br />


5-13 UK news<br />

14-21 Global news<br />

24 Letters<br />

50 Events<br />

4 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

Drivers for logistics giant supplying <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group stores take strike action<br />

Trade union Unite says members working<br />

for logistics giant GXO, which runs an<br />

outsourced delivery contract for the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, are to strike over pay.<br />

More than 330 drivers and transport<br />

clerks based at the company’s depot in<br />

Elton Head Road, St Helens, are involved<br />

in the dispute. The workers recorded a<br />

97% vote in favour of strike action.<br />

Unite says the drivers deliver to 466<br />

Group stores, from the Lake District in<br />

the north, Leeds in the east, as far south<br />

as Hereford and Aberystwyth in the west.<br />

It warns that the strike action “will<br />

have an immediate effect on supplies”,<br />

although the Group says it is taking steps<br />

to minimise disruption for sh<strong>op</strong>pers.<br />

In total 40 days of strike action have<br />

been announced between the end of May<br />

and the end of August. This will comprise<br />

20 separate, 48 hour strikes, with the<br />

first strike beginning on Wednesday 31<br />

May, which coincides with the jubilee<br />

celebrations.<br />

The union says drivers are currently<br />

paid a standard rate of £14.77 an hour, and<br />

claims drivers employed on comparable<br />

contracts are often paid over £17 an hour.<br />

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham<br />

said: “GXO’s refusal to pay our members<br />

the rate for the job means <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> stores will<br />

now be short of goods. This is a wealthy<br />

company that has no excuse not to pay<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>er wages. GXO needs to get real and<br />

make an offer that meets our members’<br />

expectations. Unite will be giving these<br />

workers its full support until this dispute<br />

is resolved.”<br />

Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe said:<br />

“Strike action will undoubtedly cause<br />

disruption to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> stores but this dispute<br />

is entirely of GXO’s own making. Even<br />

at this late stage strike action and the<br />

ensuing disruption can still be avoided,<br />

but GXO has to make an improved offer.”<br />

A spokesperson for GXO said: “We are<br />

committed to being an employer of choice<br />

for our employees and our customers.<br />

Discussions are ongoing in order to reach<br />

agreement with all parties involved.”<br />

A spokesperson for the Group said: “We<br />

are very sorry it has got to this point. We<br />

are working closely with GXO who employ<br />

the drivers, as they seek to continue<br />

discussions to try and resolve the dispute.<br />

Sh<strong>op</strong>pers should rest assured that we are<br />

also taking extensive steps and putting<br />

plans in place to minimise disruption and<br />

ensure customers can get the products<br />

they want and need.”<br />

The Group outsourced much of its<br />

logistics <strong>op</strong>eration in 2016 and at the time<br />

held discussions with Unite to avoid an<br />

industrial dispute.<br />

The strike comes on the heels of last<br />

year’s supply chain issues – felt across<br />

the grocery sector – after <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and<br />

Brexit sparked a labour shortage in the<br />

haulage industry. In response the Group<br />

worked with GXO to devel<strong>op</strong> a driver<br />

apprenticeship scheme.<br />

u Group AGM, p9; online plans, p10<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party hails string of successes in local elections<br />

Last month’s local elections were hailed<br />

as a success by the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party, which<br />

said it had a record number of over 1,200<br />

councillors return to office.<br />

In Scotland and Wales it doubled its<br />

number of councillors, following on from<br />

record parliamentary <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative groups<br />

elected last year.<br />

“Every candidate can be proud of the part<br />

they played in promoting our movement,”<br />

said assistant general secretary Emma<br />

Hoddinott. “Even if not elected, our<br />

candidates took the co-<strong>op</strong>erative message<br />

out into their community through leaflets,<br />

media and thousands of conversations.<br />

Thank you to everyone who proudly stood<br />

as a candidate.”<br />

Ms Hoddinott said that in every nation<br />

and region the Party increased its overall<br />

number of councillors, including all 14 of<br />

its candidates in Barnet, its largest group<br />

of councillors in Birmingham and 49<br />

councillors in Greenwich.<br />

The mayoral elections saw the reelection<br />

of Damien Egan in Lewisham,<br />

Philip Glanville in Hackney and Rokhsana<br />

Fiaz in Newham. They were joined by<br />

Oliver <strong>Co</strong>ppard who became the new<br />

mayor of South Yorkshire with a majority<br />

of over 80,000 over the <strong>Co</strong>nservatives.<br />

“The hard work starts now to stand<br />

alongside residents through what will be a<br />

difficult year,” said Ms Hoddinott.<br />

From a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>uncils Innovation<br />

Network perspective, Labour lost in Hull<br />

to the Lib Dems – although the CCIN<br />

is non-partisan and has one Lib Dem<br />

member. And Arooj Shah, leader of CCIN<br />

member Oldham <strong>Co</strong>uncil, lost her seat.<br />

Voters in Bristol voted to scrap the metro<br />

mayor system; Labour’s Marvin Rees will<br />

serve the remainder of his term until 2024.<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 5


Supply disruptions and cost of living crisis run through society reports<br />

More financial results have come in from<br />

the UK retail movement, with co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

noting a tough trading environment.<br />

Supply chain disruptions have affected<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations, and the reports warn that the<br />

ongoing effects of the pandemic and the<br />

cost of living squeeze continue to make<br />

business uncertain. But most societies<br />

returned profits and are continuing<br />

investment, alongside measures to<br />

support their communities.<br />

Midcounties<br />

Midcounties announced <strong>op</strong>erating profits<br />

before significant items of £7.4m and a<br />

14.6% increase in gross sales in its report<br />

for the year ending 22 January.<br />

Gross sales were £912.9m (2020/21:<br />

£796.9); revenue was £676.5m (2020/21:<br />

£693.2m) and EBITDA was £26.6m<br />

(2020/21: £31.2m). The society has reduced<br />

its net debt to £40.5m (2020/21: £64.9m).<br />

Travel was hit by <strong>Co</strong>vid restrictions<br />

although gross sales rose £165m.<br />

Food retail saw a reduction in sh<strong>op</strong>ping<br />

trips to smaller stores, which make up<br />

the bulk of its estate, while “sector-wide<br />

labour shortages resulted in difficulties<br />

around the supply of products during key<br />

trading through the national distribution<br />

network <strong>op</strong>erated by the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group.<br />

“As a result, food retail saw a 6% decline<br />

in gross sales from the previous year,<br />

although this represents a 4.5% increase<br />

on 2019’s pre-pandemic figures.”<br />

The society made some major changes<br />

to its business, taking its healthcare<br />

business online by completing its disposal<br />

of community pharmacies. It transferred<br />

most of its funeral business to Central<br />

England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and a small number to other<br />

providers within the co-<strong>op</strong> movement, in<br />

“a strategic exit of the sector that ensured<br />

customers can continue to be served by a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative funeralcare provider”.<br />

It added: “These decisions formed part<br />

of a prudent and balanced approach to<br />

the society’s finances that saw debt levels<br />

reduce by more than 37%.”<br />

Investments brought seven new food<br />

retail stores and 46 store devel<strong>op</strong>ments,<br />

with 10 new stores planned for <strong>2022</strong> at a<br />

total investment of more than £5m. The<br />

society also <strong>op</strong>ened two new childcare<br />

sites, with a further site planned for <strong>2022</strong>,<br />

as part of its plans to double the size of its<br />

nursery estate over the next five years.<br />

A new members app was launched<br />

which has been downloaded by almost<br />

60,000 members.<br />

The society says it continued to support<br />

the vulnerable pe<strong>op</strong>le through its home<br />

delivery service in partnership with local<br />

volunteers and community groups, which<br />

has now made over 150,000 deliveries.<br />

In terms of sustainability, the utilities<br />

business launched a climate positive<br />

broadband tariff and launched Younity,<br />

the joint venture with Oct<strong>op</strong>us Energy to<br />

support community energy suppliers.<br />

East of England<br />

East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s results for the<br />

year to 22 January saw trading profit fall to<br />

£1.5m from £7.5m in 2021.<br />

Overall, pre-tax profits rose to £7.6m,<br />

following a loss of £1.7m during the<br />

previous year. This was down to an<br />

increase in the value of the society’s<br />

investment pr<strong>op</strong>erty portfolio and not<br />

having the one-off costs it saw in 2020/21.<br />

Turnover fell slightly by 0.3% as food<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>ping habits returned to normal after<br />

the pandemic. But food sales were 5.9%<br />

higher than in 2019/20, the pre-pandemic<br />

year taken as a comparable benchmark<br />

by much of the retail industry, and the<br />

decline was partially offset by an increase<br />

in sales of more than 50% at the society’s<br />

petrol stations.<br />

The society reported a 1.2% rise in the<br />

number of funeral services, an increase<br />

in income from its investment pr<strong>op</strong>erties<br />

and an 18.3% growth in sales through<br />

its stonemasonry business, H L Perfitt,<br />

generating sales in excess of £2m.<br />

Joint CEO Doug Field said the society<br />

has “a strong balance sheet and sound<br />

finances, and we have the funds and<br />

resources to continue to invest in growing<br />

our business”.<br />

During the year, the society awarded<br />

more than £200,000 worth of grants to<br />

local voluntary, community and social<br />

enterprise organisations through its<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Cares Fund. And it donated<br />

more than £22,000 to 25 food banks across<br />

Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.<br />

Southern<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> reported an <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

profit of £4.3m for the year to 30 January,<br />

up from £2.8m the previous year.<br />

The society’s preferred profit measure<br />

of EBITDA increased 3% to £19.2m, and<br />

profit before tax rose by £1.2m to £3.3m.<br />

Total income reached £494m – an<br />

increase of £4m on 2021, which the<br />

report says is driven by rising coffee sales<br />

which were helped by a combination of<br />

fewer interrupted trading hours, and the<br />

<strong>op</strong>ening or acquisition of new sites.<br />

The funeral business completed fewer<br />

client arrangements than were planned for<br />

the year, 1% lower than the 2020-21 figure.<br />

Measured against the comparable<br />

pre-pandemic year of 2019, total society<br />

income was £27m, 6% higher, including<br />

a two year like-for-like increase of +3.3%<br />

in food sales and a 9% increase from<br />

comparable coffee stores.<br />

CEO Mark Smith said: “Toward the end<br />

of 2021, interruptions in supply into our<br />

stores intensified for a period of time,<br />

resulting in shelf availability impacts on<br />

certain lines. This has since eased, but I<br />

would like to apologise for this temporary<br />

worsening of supply caused by IT system<br />

issues at our logistics provider.”<br />

Mr Smith said there were also<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational challenges from labour<br />

shortages, with higher colleague turnover<br />

and vacancy rates in the second half of<br />

the year. “It remains a priority to further<br />

improve our touchpoints with colleagues<br />

and to build on the attractiveness of our<br />

brand as an employer,” he added.<br />

Southern has also been working to<br />

increase growth and resilience, he said,<br />

adding the Starbucks franchise to 20 new<br />

stores, bringing the total to 50, with a<br />

target of 100 by 2025.<br />

End of Life Services grew, with three<br />

new woodland burial ground businesses,<br />

and six new funeral homes.<br />

In food, growth continued with 13 new<br />

stores <strong>op</strong>ened by independent partners<br />

under the Welcome franchise format. For<br />

Southern’s managed food estate, 15 stores<br />

were added to its online rapid grocery<br />

delivery service, bringing the total to<br />

43. One new Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> food store<br />

<strong>op</strong>ened, in Basingstoke.<br />

6 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

p The year brought challenges but the retail sector continued to expand, including new stores for Midcounties (left) and Southern<br />

The report also documented the society’s<br />

efforts on sustainability, including the trial<br />

of soft plastics recycling bins, work with<br />

franchise partner Starbucks to reduce<br />

waste, water and carbon, and a climate<br />

action pathway, with targets including<br />

a 50% cut in absolute greenhouse gas<br />

emissions by 2030 compared to 2019.<br />

Heart of England<br />

Heart of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> announced a<br />

trading profit of £4m (previous year £4.6m)<br />

in its report for the year to 22 January.<br />

Operating profit was £5.8m (£3.3m) and<br />

pre-tax profit was £5.7m (£3.2m).<br />

Turnover across Heart of England’s<br />

food and funeral businesses was £90.9m<br />

– a decrease of 1.3% compared with the<br />

previous 52 weeks, which saw record<br />

trading because of the pandemic.<br />

Food sales dipped by 1.72% compared<br />

with the previous year. Heart of England<br />

said this was in part down to increased<br />

competition but also as a result of supply<br />

chain problems.<br />

Margins were also under pressure, said<br />

the report, not only as a result of increased<br />

competition locally but also due to a dr<strong>op</strong><br />

in income against the previous year from<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s FRTS central buying group.<br />

But the society continued its investment<br />

programme, completing significant<br />

capital projects at its food stores in<br />

Bulkington and Harbury.<br />

Investments continue this year; in<br />

March the society <strong>op</strong>ened its £2.7m store<br />

at Lower Heathcote in Warwick, which<br />

will be followed by refurbishments of the<br />

Hillmorton and Balsall <strong>Co</strong>mmon stores<br />

later this year. Balsall <strong>Co</strong>mmon will have<br />

a new coffee sh<strong>op</strong>, while next year will see<br />

the <strong>op</strong>ening of a drive-through coffee unit<br />

in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.<br />

The society’s funeral business posted<br />

a 2.59% increase in sales, although the<br />

number of funerals in that time fell by<br />

4.79%. The dr<strong>op</strong> comes against an extra<br />

ordinarily high number of funerals in<br />

2020, brought about by <strong>Co</strong>vid-19.<br />

Heart of England says it invested in<br />

a new funeral home in Brackley, south<br />

Northamptonshire, taking the business<br />

over from Midcounties. The move saw the<br />

funeral division to extend its footprint<br />

south and followed the <strong>op</strong>ening of its<br />

Towcester funeral home in 2019. All<br />

funeral homes were rebranded as Heart of<br />

England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Funerals.<br />

The society’s net worth now stands at<br />

£52.8m – an increase of 15.4% on 2020.<br />

Its bank balance is now at £16.4m, with<br />

a further £5.3m spent on new projects<br />

throughout the year.<br />

Membership has increased to 166,000<br />

from 162,500 last year, while the member<br />

rewards earned in Food stores over the<br />

year t<strong>op</strong>ped £367,000.<br />

CEO Ali Kurji said: “We face an extremely<br />

challenging and very uncertain <strong>2022</strong> and<br />

all the economic indicators are pointing<br />

towards a slowdown in the economy ...<br />

compounded by the increase in the living<br />

wage and national insurance.”<br />

Chelmsford Star<br />

Essex-based Chelmsford Star reported a<br />

trading profit of £493,000 for the year to 29<br />

January, a two-year decrease of £200,000.<br />

Gross takings fell by 3.2% (on a 52-<br />

week comparison) or by 12.7% across<br />

two years, the report says. After meeting<br />

the costs of all distributions, the society<br />

posted a retained profit of £341,000,<br />

which compares to losses of £3,546,000<br />

last year and £617,000 two years ago. The<br />

performance is ahead of the expectation<br />

of the business plan, the report says.<br />

The board will be recommending a<br />

dividend rate of £4 per 1,000 points<br />

earned up to 29 January <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Chelmsford Star’s food business saw<br />

gross takings of core products rise by<br />

4.4% on a year-on-two-year like-forlike<br />

basis, helped by <strong>Co</strong>vid restrictions<br />

keeping sh<strong>op</strong>pers local. Trading profit<br />

of the food business has increased 24%<br />

over two years. The society says its food<br />

business was hampered by supply issues,<br />

resulting from <strong>Co</strong>vid related shortages in<br />

food supplies and the availability of HGV<br />

drivers. Stock availability over more recent<br />

weeks has gradually improved, it adds.<br />

The society is working to mitigate losses<br />

at its department stores, looking for new<br />

concession partners and devel<strong>op</strong>ing its<br />

online sh<strong>op</strong>ping offer.<br />

But trading losses in the division<br />

increased to 6.87%, compared to 3.09%<br />

two years ago, and the board continues to<br />

monitor its performance.<br />

Gross takings for the travel amounted<br />

to £1,389,000, a decline in turnover across<br />

two years of £9,010,000 (86.6)%. “Given<br />

the impact of <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 on international<br />

travel,” says the report, “the society’s<br />

travel business generated a trading loss<br />

of £120,000, which compares to a trading<br />

profit two years ago of £201,000”.<br />

This year, the business is launching<br />

an online <strong>op</strong>tion for customers to book a<br />

selection of Eur<strong>op</strong>ean holiday packages.u<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 7

p Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey (fourth from left) with CEO Don Morris (fifth from left) on a visit to Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s dairy farm<br />

u At the funeral division, takings rose 1%<br />

on a year-on-two-year basis. The society<br />

will <strong>op</strong>en its ninth funeral site this year in<br />

Basildon, and is also devel<strong>op</strong>ing its online<br />

funeral planning <strong>op</strong>tions.<br />

During the year, the society achieved<br />

the Fair Tax accreditation. Its charity<br />

partnership with Essex <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Foundation’s <strong>Co</strong>ronavirus Fund raised<br />

£20,355, and the society’s <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Fund gave £9,000 to four Essex charities.<br />

Channel Islands<br />

Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> saw trading profits<br />

for the year to 9 January fall 16.7% to<br />

£6m (2020/21: £7.2m). Turnover dr<strong>op</strong>ped<br />

to £181.6m (2020/21: £185m), with food<br />

and fuel sales of £169.7m affected by<br />

falling trade at its petrol stations as home<br />

working continued.<br />

The society wrote down the value<br />

of its Leale’s Yard site in Guernsey in<br />

preparation for a redevel<strong>op</strong>ment, which<br />

together with the supply chain costs<br />

generated a £6.7m loss.<br />

“Availability shortages and increased<br />

costs from our main UK supplier cost<br />

£4.4m in lost sales and additional costs,”<br />

said CEO Mark <strong>Co</strong>x.<br />

Mr <strong>Co</strong>x bemoaned a “disappointing<br />

but not unsurprising performance when<br />

considered against the head winds of<br />

significant availability challenges in the<br />

second half of the year and increased<br />

costs from our main UK supplier … We<br />

sought to limit cost increases to customers<br />

and members whenever possible.<br />

“Driver shortages in the UK and<br />

significant ongoing <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 absences<br />

throughout our UK supply chain combined<br />

to leave shelves looking empty at times.”<br />

The food business is continuing to seek<br />

new products and suppliers to offer more<br />

choice build greater resilience into the<br />

supply chain, added Mr <strong>Co</strong>x.<br />

The society’s seven pharmacies had<br />

performed well, he added, with sales<br />

of £10.3m, and there was a positive<br />

performance from its funeral businesses,<br />

De Gruchy’s in Jersey and Argents in<br />

Guernsey, providing 398 services in the<br />

year with a turnover of £1.8m.<br />

Almost £50,000 was donated from the<br />

society’s new <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund to local<br />

projects, shared out among 173 charities.<br />

After writing down the value of its<br />

Leale’s Yard site, the society has submitted<br />

a planning application for over £50m of<br />

capital investment providing 320 homes,<br />

a retail store, car park, green and civic<br />

space to be available within five years.<br />

This year, the co-<strong>op</strong> is also <strong>op</strong>ening of a<br />

new store at Five Oaks, Jersey, rolling out<br />

new branding and new uniforms across<br />

its estate and introducing a new loyalty<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osition for members.<br />

The year will see the society publish its<br />

first formal sustainability strategy “which<br />

will lay the groundwork for us to measure,<br />

report and set targets in each area”.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> continues to have a strong<br />

balance sheet, added Mr <strong>Co</strong>x, with<br />

member’s funds of £177.6m. Membership<br />

grew by 1,048 to 129,249, and the cash<br />

balance is £45.2m.<br />

The society is also revising its<br />

approach to its annual evaluation of<br />

governance, with a new approach to<br />

be introduced in <strong>2022</strong>. The board is<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osing a reduction in the maximum<br />

term for directors from 12 years to nine.<br />

Radstock<br />

Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative reported a trading<br />

surplus of £158,444 for the year ending 26<br />

February, down from £644,22 the previous<br />

year. Gross sales were £43.5m, down from<br />

£48m, and retail turnover fell to £39m<br />

from £43m. Pre-tax surplus was £576,904,<br />

down from £661,252.<br />

Dividends of £66,550 were distributed<br />

to members, and the society partnered<br />

with charities Bath Mind and Age UK<br />

Bath and North East Somerset, donating<br />

£1,100 to each. Donations and colleague<br />

fundraising in stores raised another<br />

£8,500 for good causes.<br />

In the annual report, CEO Don Morris<br />

echoed comments by the other retail<br />

societies in their reports about supply<br />

chain issues, adding that these “are not<br />

yet behind us but as we progress into <strong>2022</strong><br />

availability of product is improving”.<br />

Increased costs of goods, material and<br />

fuel has hit profits, he warned, but the<br />

society has “carefully managed” these<br />

and “it is pleasing to note that all trading<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations were profitable in the year.”<br />

Other news for the society in 2021<br />

included the purchase of the freehold of<br />

its Highbridge, Somerset store, which<br />

<strong>op</strong>ened in February 2020, from a joint<br />

venture with its devel<strong>op</strong>ment partners.<br />

Radstock’s dairy farm also had a<br />

year of consolidation following a £3m<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and made a surplus for the<br />

year. The farm, which contributes to the<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> milk supply, installed a<br />

70-point rotary carousel, which the report<br />

says creates a calmer environment for the<br />

cows, and brought a visit from Bank of<br />

England governor Andrew Bailey.<br />

8 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

RETAIL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group AGM<br />

The UK’s largest co-<strong>op</strong>erative retail<br />

society hosted its <strong>2022</strong> AGM on Saturday<br />

21 <strong>June</strong>, at Manchester Central, with<br />

senior staff presenting an overview of the<br />

organisation’s activities and performance.<br />

“The last couple of years have been<br />

tough for all co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and members,<br />

but colleagues have done an amazing job,”<br />

said chair Allan Leighton, introducing<br />

the morning. He paid tribute to the<br />

“commitment, passion and leadership” of<br />

outgoing CEO Steve Murrells, and also to<br />

secretary Helen Grantham, who is retiring<br />

this summer.<br />

“I may be leaving the co-<strong>op</strong>, but the co<strong>op</strong><br />

will never leave me, it’s become a core<br />

part of who I am,” said Mr Murrells. “Our<br />

vision of ‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erating for a Fairer World<br />

has been our north star and it has shone<br />

brightly at a time when the country is<br />

crying out for businesses with purpose.”<br />

Mr Murrells, who has been with the<br />

Group for 10 years, also paid tribute to<br />

the organisation’s staff: “We are a pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

business and I’m so proud of how our<br />

colleagues have risen and shone over the<br />

last decade. They always answer the call<br />

to deliver more for our members and their<br />

communities. Without their endeavours,<br />

we would never have got through some<br />

of the biggest challenges over the last<br />

10 years: the horse meat scandal, the<br />

banking crisis, Brexit, and of course the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid crisis.”<br />

He added: “I may be leaving the co<strong>op</strong>,<br />

but the co-<strong>op</strong> will never leave me, it’s<br />

become a core part of who I am.”<br />

Interim CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq<br />

highlighted the challenges of the last few<br />

years, but added “there’s so much to be<br />

proud of – our community partnerships<br />

fund; our colleague networks; our<br />

campaigns; and our ongoing commitment<br />

to climate action.”<br />

Delegates heard presentations and<br />

conversations led by colleagues from<br />

different parts of the business, including<br />

food, funeralcare, legal and insurance.<br />

Customer director Ali Jones gave an<br />

overview of the media coverage the Group<br />

had received for its campaigns work,<br />

including its activity on sustainability,<br />

and campaigns and public affairs director<br />

Paul Gerrard set out how the organisation<br />

uses its assets in service of members and<br />

communities to tackle inequality and<br />

drive social mobility.<br />

“Tackling inequalities is what co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses should do and<br />

what our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> does,” he said. “We’re<br />

establishing our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> as a leader in this.”<br />

Looking at the financials for the<br />

year, finance director Surojit Majumder<br />

said that behind all the organisation’s<br />

community and member activity has been<br />

“an incredibly successful organisation;<br />

if we aren’t commercially successful we<br />

can’t do all of the things we want to do<br />

… this was a year of investment in our<br />

business and our colleagues.”<br />

Steve Spring, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group director and<br />

chair of the Remuneration <strong>Co</strong>mmittee,<br />

presented the remuneration report. She<br />

described how the “physical, mental<br />

and financial health” of colleagues was<br />

a priority, and how pay ratios had been<br />

reduced to 39-1 from 48-1 five years ago.<br />

But she acknowledged there was still<br />

work to be done. “Last year we moved<br />

33,000 colleagues onto the real living<br />

wage recommended by the Real Living<br />

Wage Foundation,” she said. “This is a<br />

significant, permanent investment: for<br />

every 15p we increase, that’s a £10m extra<br />

on our wage bill.”<br />

Denise Scott-MacDonald, who was<br />

elected president of the Group’s National<br />

Members’ <strong>Co</strong>uncil, spoke about the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil’s three-year plan as an effective<br />

voice for members.<br />

Looking to the future Shirine Khoury-<br />

Haq said: “We owe it to our members and<br />

our colleagues the respect to spend every<br />

penny of our profit wisely.” Plans this<br />

year are to reduce <strong>op</strong>erating costs; reduce<br />

debt (which she said had increased last<br />

year as additional stock was purchased<br />

in anticipation of supply chain concerns,<br />

but which would be sold this year); and a<br />

flattened management structure.<br />

The event gave a comprehensive<br />

overview of the organisation’s commercial<br />

and community activity, but on the floor,<br />

there was frustration at the format (over<br />

three and a half hours without a break<br />

and no seating outside the theatre-style<br />

auditorium), the lack of subtitles on films<br />

(although BSL interpreters were present),<br />

the emphasis on colleagues over members,<br />

the lack of time for member questions, and<br />

how fast voting took place – with none of<br />

the motions being pr<strong>op</strong>osed, seconded<br />

or debated, low voting numbers and<br />

no voting figures given for the membernominated<br />

director election results.<br />

Sarah McCarthy Fry and Paul Chandler<br />

were re-elected as member-nominated<br />

directors, and all motions were carried.<br />

u For full details of the motions and<br />

voting figures, visit s.co<strong>op</strong>/2zwzh.<br />

u To re-watch the AGM in full, visit<br />

s.co<strong>op</strong>/2zwzq<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 9

RETAIL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group drafts Shanks’s pony and delivery bots for latest online push<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group is introducing on-foot<br />

deliveries and extending its use of robot<br />

couriers in a bid to expand its online<br />

grocery business by 50% to £300m by the<br />

end of the year.<br />

The Group h<strong>op</strong>es to take advantage<br />

of the rise of quick commerce, which<br />

offers delivery in less than an hour and is<br />

transforming the retail industry. Worth up<br />

to £3.3bn in UK sales, quick commerce is<br />

now recognised by retail analysts IGD as a<br />

separate grocery channel.<br />

Home deliveries are already available<br />

at more than 2,000 of the Group’s stores<br />

across the UK, and it has recorded more<br />

than 36 consecutive months of online<br />

growth since entering the market in 2019.<br />

It uses its stores as distribution hubs for<br />

fresh groceries, and is expanding its offer<br />

through its online sh<strong>op</strong> and partnerships<br />

with Amazon Prime and Deliveroo –<br />

where it is the most widely available<br />

supermarket, with over 1,000 stores on<br />

the app.<br />

Now the Group plans to be the first UK<br />

supermarket to launch ‘walking deliveries’<br />

for customers based within a 15-minute<br />

walk of its stores. This service, which has<br />

been trialled in <strong>Co</strong>rnwall, is expected to<br />

<strong>op</strong>erate from 200 stores this year with<br />

the rollout including smaller towns and<br />

villages, which are often ignored by rapid<br />

home delivery providers.<br />

Robot deliveries continue to figure in<br />

the Group’s plans, with automated home<br />

deliveries coming to Cambridge in May in<br />

partnership with Starship Technologies,<br />

which already works with the retailer in<br />

p The collection hatch for customers at the Lewes Road store<br />

p Robots arrive to begin delivery services from a Group store in Cambridge<br />

Milton Keynes and Northampton.<br />

The Group says the service, running<br />

from its Mosquito Road store and<br />

available to 5,000 homes in the Lower<br />

and Upper Cambourne districts, is in line<br />

with Cambridgeshire <strong>Co</strong>unty <strong>Co</strong>uncil’s<br />

environmental agenda which has a<br />

focus on reducing short car journeys and<br />

improving air quality.<br />

Cllr Peter McDonald, chair of the<br />

council’s Highways and Transport<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee, said: “The partnership<br />

between the council and Starship is<br />

tremendously exciting and has the<br />

potential to make life easier for thousands<br />

of residents while also reducing<br />

congestion. H<strong>op</strong>efully the trial will be a<br />

success which would allow us to extend<br />

the benefits of quick and easy deliveries to<br />

more pe<strong>op</strong>le across the county.”<br />

Andrew Curtis, Starship’s UK <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

manager, said: “We have had extremely<br />

positive feedback from pe<strong>op</strong>le using our<br />

service regularly in Milton Keynes and<br />

Northampton who have embraced the<br />

robots as part of their local communities.<br />

We’re looking forward to working closely<br />

with the council in Cambridgeshire and<br />

h<strong>op</strong>efully expanding the sc<strong>op</strong>e of this<br />

initial project.”<br />

E-<strong>Co</strong>mmerce director Chris <strong>Co</strong>nway<br />

said: “Making sh<strong>op</strong>ping quick, easy<br />

and convenient for our members and<br />

customers is at the very heart of our<br />

approach – our aim is to be the most<br />

convenient home delivery service and we<br />

continue to innovate to meet the needs of<br />

consumers.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> stores across the country are<br />

well placed to serve sh<strong>op</strong>pers locally and<br />

a key part of our strategy is to devel<strong>op</strong> our<br />

e-commerce offer, using the competitive<br />

advantage of our store footprint to provide<br />

fast home deliveries, click and collect and<br />

added services.<br />

“We know that as a convenience retailer,<br />

the ability to p<strong>op</strong> into a local <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> will<br />

always be important to customers, but we<br />

also know that they want flexible <strong>op</strong>tions<br />

online, and so we continue to work to meet<br />

customer needs, however, and wherever<br />

they choose to sh<strong>op</strong> with us.”<br />

Earlier this month, the Group began the<br />

trial of an external service hatch for click<br />

and collect customers to pick up their<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>ping more quickly, without having to<br />

enter the store or queue. It is running the<br />

trial at its store in Lewes Road, Brighton,<br />

which has one of its busiest click and<br />

collect services.<br />

10 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>


<strong>Co</strong>mmunity share issues in the UK pass the £200m landmark<br />

Efforts to drive economic empowerment<br />

through community share offers have just<br />

passed the £200m mark.<br />

And a grant support scheme which has<br />

played a key role in driving the model has<br />

just been re-launched to generate further<br />

investment in community businesses.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares Booster Fund<br />

offers business devel<strong>op</strong>ment grants and<br />

match funding to community businesses<br />

in England wanting to raise finance<br />

through community share offers.<br />

It is delivered by the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares<br />

Unit at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, in partnership<br />

with Locality, Plunkett Foundation and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Finance.<br />

It is funded by Power to Change and the<br />

Architectural Heritage Fund.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity shares are a way for groups<br />

of pe<strong>op</strong>le to come together and take<br />

ownership of local buildings and land,<br />

or to devel<strong>op</strong> projects and services that<br />

benefit their community. Individuals<br />

purchase shares – from as little as £10 –<br />

and receive a financial return as well as a<br />

stake in the business.<br />

Businesses can set the terms for payback<br />

dates and interest rates, which can help<br />

keep their finances on a sustainable<br />

footing. Figures released in October 2020<br />

show that of the businesses that have<br />

raised finance through community shares<br />

since 2012, 92% are still trading.<br />

To date, there have been 126,340<br />

investors in community shares, allowing<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to take ownership of the services<br />

and spaces that matter most to them. It<br />

helps empower pe<strong>op</strong>le at grass roots level,<br />

enabling them to have greater control over<br />

what happens in their community.<br />

Leeds Action To Create Homes (Latch)<br />

is one of those organisations. Latch, a<br />

Locality member, refurbishes derelict and<br />

run-down pr<strong>op</strong>erties in Leeds to provide<br />

supported housing for pe<strong>op</strong>le in housing<br />

need. Their community share offer raised<br />

£550,000 – which included match funding<br />

from the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares Booster Fund<br />

– to enable them to provide more muchneeded<br />

homes.<br />

“That money will now transform lives,”<br />

said Latch CEO James Hartley. “When<br />

the profile of investors came in, there’s a<br />

significant amount of pe<strong>op</strong>le from Leeds.<br />

They’ve seen the juxtaposition of empty<br />

p A team from Latch renovates a pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

houses and homeless pe<strong>op</strong>le. They know<br />

we’ll use the money to create positive<br />

change. There are 150 investors. They’re<br />

the pe<strong>op</strong>le of Latch now.”<br />

The re-launched <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares<br />

Booster Fund is <strong>op</strong>en to new and existing<br />

community businesses in England that<br />

want to explore a share offer or are<br />

already devel<strong>op</strong>ing one. They can apply<br />

for a devel<strong>op</strong>ment grant for preparing a<br />

community share offer to fund activities<br />

to get the business investment ready. This<br />

may include work on the business plan,<br />

community engagement work, devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

the share offer document, promotional<br />

campaigns or costs associated with<br />

obtaining the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares Standard<br />

Mark (an accreditation awarded to offers<br />

that meet national standards).<br />

They can also apply for Match funding<br />

for upcoming or current share offers in<br />

the form of equity investment from the<br />

Booster Fund. Businesses can apply for<br />

an equity match of up to £25,000 for a<br />

community share offer. This means that<br />

the Booster Fund could potentially match<br />

every £1 invested by the community, up<br />

to £25,000.<br />

Rose Marley, CEO, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK<br />

said: “We’re proud to be launching the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares Booster Fund, which<br />

will enable more communities to take<br />

control of the spaces and services that are<br />

important to them. <strong>Co</strong>mmunity ownership<br />

via community shares has been one of<br />

the biggest democratising forces in our<br />

economy of recent years.<br />

“We’re keen to spread the word and<br />

reach groups that are currently less well<br />

represented in the community shares<br />

market – younger pe<strong>op</strong>le, minoritised<br />

ethnicities and those based in areas<br />

of greatest disadvantage. We’re also<br />

keen to support pr<strong>op</strong>osals that focus<br />

on digital inclusion and tackling the<br />

climate crisis.”<br />

Tim Davies-Pugh, interim CEO at Power<br />

to Change, said: “For communities to<br />

thrive, local pe<strong>op</strong>le need to feel consulted<br />

and have a sense of self-determination.<br />

Taking ownership of the spaces and<br />

places that matter most is an important<br />

part of taking back control.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>mmunity shares are an accessible<br />

way for community businesses and<br />

organisations to generate funds, grow<br />

local support and raise the profile of their<br />

organisation, while giving local pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

an equal stake and say in how things are<br />

run. That’s why we are launching a new<br />

Booster Fund, which will support more<br />

community businesses to secure the longterm<br />

future of their community spaces.”<br />

u To find out more about community<br />

shares and the support available<br />

through the Booster Fund, visit uk.co<strong>op</strong>/<br />

boosterfund<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 11


Car loans lead reforms announced by treasury minister at Abcul conference<br />

Treasury minister John Glen announced<br />

a series of reforms at the Association of<br />

British Credit Unions (Abcul) conference<br />

in Manchester in May – including a<br />

lending shake-up that will allow the sector<br />

to offer automobile loans for the first time.<br />

Mr Glen also discussed the pilot of a<br />

no-interest loan scheme, backed with<br />

£3.8m of government money, “which<br />

has been designed for those consumers<br />

in vulnerable circumstances who would<br />

benefit most from affordable credit to<br />

meet unexpected costs”.<br />

The pilot is being run through South<br />

Manchester Credit Union, which Mr Glen<br />

had just visited. “I met with recipients for<br />

whom these loans are providing real-life<br />

impact – covering the costs of new white<br />

goods to keep families running, funerals<br />

for loved ones, and debt consolidation.”<br />

He said the pilot should reach full-scale<br />

rollout in a number of sites across the<br />

country at the start of next year.<br />

The idea is a tough sell for credit unions,<br />

which rely on loan interest for their<br />

income. “I recognise how it is perceived<br />

as compromising the core products and<br />

services that you offer,” Mr Glen admitted<br />

– but, he argued, the initiative could<br />

“provide a gateway product”, bringing<br />

future custom to the sector.<br />

“The challenge now will be to take that<br />

concept pilot to a bigger pilot so that we<br />

can actually look at creating additional<br />

resources. We have £1.2m from JP Morgan<br />

and I see this as something that needs to<br />

be built on by other high street lenders so<br />

that we can actually have the capacity to<br />

provide that gateway entry product into<br />

the use of credit.<br />

“Credit unions will be instrumental in<br />

providing this ongoing support.”<br />

Mr Glen also promised amendments<br />

to the Credit Unions Act to allow the<br />

sector in Great Britain to offer a wider<br />

range of products and services, as part of<br />

the forthcoming Financial Services and<br />

Markets Bill.<br />

This will allow credit unions to offer hire<br />

purchase, conditional sale agreements,<br />

and insurance distribution services to<br />

their members, he said.<br />

“We know that you will have members,<br />

especially key workers or those who work<br />

a shift pattern, for whom having access<br />

p John Glen addresses Abcul members in Manchester<br />

to a reliable car can be essential. And<br />

these changes will mean that you can<br />

offer products such as car finance to your<br />

members, should they wish to choose<br />

them, for the first time.”<br />

The bill will also make minor<br />

amendments to governance, including<br />

a legal requirement for credit unions to<br />

submit annual accounts to the FCA, “and<br />

express permission for credit unions to<br />

temporarily lend to and borrow from<br />

other credit unions, even when there is no<br />

membership link”.<br />

Facing questions from delegates, he<br />

was pressed on the issue of mergers<br />

and acquisitions, a current trend in<br />

the credit union sector which presents<br />

rescue <strong>op</strong>tions for failing entities, and<br />

an important mechanism for growth.<br />

More mergers are expected in the coming<br />

financial crisis but if a credit union is<br />

constricted by a narrow common bond,<br />

this can be a barrier to mergers.<br />

Mr Glen said he was aware this is “an<br />

outstanding matter” but more evidence<br />

is needed and care had to be taken before<br />

changes were made to these rules, adding<br />

that in many common bonds there is<br />

unused spare capacity for growth.<br />

The common bond situation can be<br />

remedied “straightforwardly through<br />

statutory instruments, but I will need<br />

further advice on that,” he added.<br />

In other conference sessions credit<br />

union representatives from the US urged<br />

their UK counterparts to take advantage<br />

of the <strong>op</strong>portunity presented by<br />

vehicle finance.<br />

Scott Butterfield, from US service<br />

organisation Your Credit Union Partner,<br />

said: “Auto lending will give you the<br />

revenue to make more investments, if it’s<br />

right for your credit union.”<br />

Noting comments from delegates that<br />

there is a “cultural aversion” to entering<br />

this market, Mr Butterfield said due<br />

diligence will be vital. “Some of you will<br />

make mistakes; culturally, managing<br />

the risks will be new, you might not<br />

understand why someone wants to buy<br />

that car, and you will need to not be<br />

judgemental.<br />

“The UK is fantastic at savings schemes,<br />

lending not so much. When auto lending<br />

hits … it’s going to be big so be prepared<br />

for it.”<br />

He said US credit unions will be happy<br />

to give advice on the automobile market.<br />

“There’s a lot of sc<strong>op</strong>e for strategic<br />

partnerships. If you’re not ready for it,<br />

is there a partner who can help you be<br />

ready for it? In the US I wish there was a<br />

big market like that where you can just<br />

jump in.”<br />

u Full conference report: p28-29<br />

12 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>


Rochdale draws on<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> heritage for two<br />

pots of arts cash<br />

Rochdale, in Greater Manchester, has<br />

netted more funds from the Arts <strong>Co</strong>uncil,<br />

drawing on its co-<strong>op</strong> heritage.<br />

A £4.2m award from the Department<br />

for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports,<br />

delivered by Arts <strong>Co</strong>uncil England, is part<br />

of a £50m pot being distributed among<br />

galleries, museums, libraries and cultural<br />

venues in parts of the country “where<br />

involvement in creativity and culture is<br />

significantly below the national average”,<br />

with a focus on grassroots activity.<br />

The funding will support a cultural<br />

improvement district in the town centre.<br />

“Building on Rochdale’s place in history<br />

as the birthplace of the global co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement the funding will bring a range<br />

of diverse cultural assets and groups<br />

together to tell a more powerful story, with<br />

events and cultural activities across the<br />

borough,” says the council.<br />

The money follows another venture<br />

backed by the Arts <strong>Co</strong>uncil. Culture <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

is being led by Action Together CIO, with<br />

partners Rochdale Borough <strong>Co</strong>uncil,<br />

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH),<br />

Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust<br />

(Your Trust) and the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group.<br />

Based on the original 1844 Rochdale <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

principles, it is building cultural<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities around neighbourhoods<br />

and across communities. “Citizens will<br />

become collaborators, co-designers, c<strong>op</strong>roducers<br />

and protagonists in creating<br />

work that is both neighbourhood driven<br />

and recognised for its quality, local<br />

relevance and artistic ambition,” say<br />

project leaders.<br />

Lincolnshire reports first half lift to sales and surplus<br />

Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has issued its interim<br />

report for the six months to 22 March, with<br />

sales up 14.5% to £195.4m. Group trading<br />

surplus rose 8.2% to £8.9m, buoyed by<br />

a post-pandemic revival in the travel<br />

business and increased trade at its petrol<br />

stations. But it warned that “uncertain<br />

economic conditions, inflation and rising<br />

costs mean there are tough times to come”.<br />

Midcounties launches £1m investment in store security<br />

Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is investing £1m in<br />

store security, with a dedicated team being<br />

created. Some stores will be fitted with<br />

new CCTV systems connected to a remote<br />

<strong>op</strong>erator. The society is also introducing<br />

roaming guards and working with a thirdparty<br />

supplier on a crime hub which will<br />

produce incident reports for the police.<br />

Central England launches colleague training platform<br />

Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has launched<br />

a learning management platform,<br />

Let’s Learn. It follows the launch of a<br />

recruitment platform, careers.co<strong>op</strong>,<br />

which the society says has “revitalised”<br />

its recruitment experience. The society<br />

h<strong>op</strong>es its 8,000 colleagues will “feel more<br />

engaged and empowered in their roles” as<br />

they can find new learning <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

and track their progression.<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> raises over £170k for community causes<br />

More than £170,000 has been raised by<br />

colleagues and customers across Southern<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> stores. Thousands of pounds will<br />

be shared between 157 charities and good<br />

causes, which were the 2021 local partners<br />

of the retail society’s food stores. The money<br />

was raised through collection pots and<br />

fundraising activities.<br />

Sh<strong>op</strong>pers donate £33k to in-store Ukraine appeal<br />

East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has thanked<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>pers for donating more than £33,000<br />

in store to the Disasters Emergency<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian<br />

Appeal. The society introduced donation<br />

points to tills at the end of March, with<br />

funds going to DEC’s group of 15 UK<br />

charities.<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 13


GLOBAL<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives theme announced<br />

‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives build a better world’ is the<br />

theme of this year’s International Day of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Celebrated on the first Saturday of July,<br />

the annual day promotes awareness of<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative business model. This<br />

year’s theme is the same as that of the<br />

International Year of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives, which<br />

was celebrated by the United Nations<br />

in 2012.<br />

In choosing this theme, the UN<br />

General Assembly aimed to highlight the<br />

contribution of co-<strong>op</strong>s to socio-economic<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment, particularly their impact<br />

on poverty reduction, employment<br />

generation and social integration.<br />

The International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

has been celebrated by the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA) since 1923.<br />

In 1995 the UN also proclaimed the first<br />

Saturday of July to be International Day of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives to mark the centenary of the<br />

establishment of the ICA.<br />

Since 1995, the theme for the day<br />

has been chosen by the <strong>Co</strong>mmittee for<br />

the Promotion and Advancement of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (COPAC), made up of the<br />

Food and Agriculture Organization of the<br />

United Nations (FAO), the International<br />

p ICA president Ariel Guarco celebrates the 2021 International Day<br />

Labour Organization (ILO), the UN<br />

Department of Economic and Social<br />

Affairs (UNDESA), the International Trade<br />

Center (ITC) and the ICA.<br />

The ICA is encouraging co-<strong>op</strong>s from<br />

around the world to use this year’s theme<br />

to showcase how human-centred business<br />

models, inspired by the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

values, are building a better world. The<br />

apex will prepare a range of tools for co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

to use, including a logo, key messages<br />

and other digital resources.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are answering the wakeup<br />

call of UN secretary general Antonio<br />

Guterres, who warned that the world is<br />

‘on the edge of an abyss — and moving<br />

in the wrong direction’, and exclaimed<br />

that ‘to restore trust, and inspire h<strong>op</strong>e, we<br />

need co-<strong>op</strong>eration, we need dialogue, we<br />

need understanding’,” said ICA director<br />

general Bruno Roelants.<br />

“For nearly two centuries, co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

have been pulling in this direction.<br />

This was amply highlighted at the 33rd<br />

World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress, held by the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance in<br />

December 2021, which focused a spotlight<br />

on how their shared identity is moving<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to take action to address the<br />

world’s problems.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are the only enterprise<br />

model with globally agreed principles<br />

that rest on a foundation of shared ethical<br />

values.”<br />

p Spanish co-<strong>op</strong> Granissat celebrates the 2021 Day<br />

More information about the<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

is available at co<strong>op</strong>sday.co<strong>op</strong><br />

14 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

USA<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> groceries ‘lead the way on ethical produce and labour rights’<br />

A new report from National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers<br />

(NCG) argues that food co-<strong>op</strong>s in the US<br />

are leading in ethical produce and labour<br />

practices.<br />

In its 2021 Food <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Impact Report,<br />

NCG references its vision for a food system<br />

which prioritises pe<strong>op</strong>le’s wellbeing,<br />

across nine key areas: co-<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

inclusive economies, racial equity, food<br />

justice, local food, organic certification,<br />

climate, environment and community.<br />

“We are working towards the day when<br />

everyone can eat delicious, nutritious<br />

food produced and sold in ways that<br />

are good for pe<strong>op</strong>le and restorative to<br />

the environment and our climate”, says<br />

the report.<br />

It found that on average, NCG food co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

buy from 178 local producers,<br />

accounting for 26% of total sales. This<br />

figure is up from the 22% reported<br />

last year.<br />

This year, NCG reported that 40% of<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s’ combined annual US$2.4bn<br />

(£1.9bn) sales come from certified organic<br />

products, which is 7% lower than last<br />

year, and Fairtrade certified products<br />

made up 5% of sales, a slight dr<strong>op</strong> from<br />

last year’s 6%.<br />

NCG’s advocacy manager Mandy<br />

Makinen said: “We know from the Organic<br />

Trade Association that pantry loading<br />

at the start of the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic in<br />

2020 boosted organic sales nationwide,<br />

so it’s likely that organic products as a<br />

percentage of sales were up in 2020 due to<br />

this and other supply chain issues. This<br />

is also the most likely reason that we saw<br />

higher sales of all value-added certified<br />

products in 2020 compared with 2021,<br />

including Fairtrade and B <strong>Co</strong>rp.”<br />

Organic as a percent of sales was down<br />

for all channels in 2021, but NCG food<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s continue to outperform other<br />

grocers when it comes to the sales of<br />

organic, Fairtrade and B <strong>Co</strong>rp products<br />

as a percentage of total sales. NCG also<br />

donated $90,000 (£71,000)towards<br />

organic agricultural projects in 2021.<br />

This year’s report included new insights<br />

on employment, revealing that 58% of<br />

the 148 co-<strong>op</strong>s surveyed pay their staff<br />

the living wage, and 66% contribute<br />

to staff retirement plans, compared<br />

with 40% nationally for private sector<br />

service workers.<br />

The report also found that the average<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong> employs 96 pe<strong>op</strong>le, of whom<br />

57% are eligible for healthcare benefits,<br />

which is 13% higher than the national<br />

coverage rate.<br />

NCG represents 148 food co-<strong>op</strong>s across<br />

38 states in the US, with a combined total<br />

of over 1.3 million members.<br />

NCG says: “We have what it takes<br />

to dream big because food co-<strong>op</strong>s are<br />

grassroots organisations that are powered<br />

by democracy. Each food co-<strong>op</strong> can grow<br />

and change as community needs change,<br />

not when investors change their minds.<br />

Anyone, and everyone, is welcome to sh<strong>op</strong><br />

at the co-<strong>op</strong>, apply for a job and join as<br />

a member.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s exist to serve their members<br />

and their community — this approach is<br />

our biggest strength. Our annual impact<br />

report reflects the values and goals of the<br />

communities we serve, both as individual<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s and through our national<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative, National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers.”<br />

CANADA<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators launches enhanced cyber-insurance coverage<br />

Canadian insurer The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators has<br />

revamped its cyber insurance offers for<br />

business policyholders.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative group says its new<br />

product will protect business owners<br />

for unexpected expenses and/or costs<br />

of complying with privacy laws if their<br />

confidential information is compromised,<br />

and lost income or increased <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

costs due to a privacy breach event.<br />

Cyber Guard Select will be available as<br />

an upgrade to the standard Cyber Guard<br />

coverage and it will provide higher limits,<br />

liability protection against third-party<br />

claims and regulatory penalties, and nine<br />

flexible add-ons to address business risks,<br />

including crisis management, payment<br />

card loss, and cyber extortion threat<br />

coverage.<br />

“Responding to the unique needs<br />

of our clients is central to our holistic<br />

approach and that compelled us to deliver<br />

a solution that addressed the complex and<br />

unpredictable nature of today’s digital<br />

security threats,” said Michael Spadafora,<br />

AVP National Product Portfolio,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmercial & Farm Management at <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erators.<br />

“Canadian businesses have to<br />

be vigilant in defending their companies<br />

from any number of vulnerabilities and<br />

Cyber Guard Select empowers them with<br />

flexible <strong>op</strong>tions to meet that objective.”<br />

Set up over 70 years ago, The<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators has more than CA$61.5bn<br />

(£48.7bn) in assets under administration.<br />

Its members include credit unions and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, which will be able to benefit<br />

from the new insurance product.<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 15


Dairygold reports increased profit as it plots roadmap for next 10 years<br />

Farmer-owned co-<strong>op</strong> Dairygold has<br />

announced an <strong>op</strong>erating profit of €30.4m<br />

(£25.6m), an increase of €4.4m on the<br />

previous year.<br />

The Munster-based co-<strong>op</strong>, which has<br />

served thousands of shareholder farmers<br />

for more than 150 years, reported a record<br />

turnover of €1.17bn (£1bn), an increase of<br />

15% on 2020.<br />

It says the results, for the year ending<br />

31 December 2021, reflect a “robust<br />

performance” across all its businesses,<br />

despite the challenges of the pandemic.<br />

2021 EBITDA was €57.6m (£48.5m), an<br />

increase of €3.8m, reflecting the increased<br />

level of profitability in the core business.<br />

The society reported a stronger trading<br />

performance, including increased sales<br />

volumes and improved efficiencies.<br />

Following a decade of significant<br />

capital investment, Dairygold reduced its<br />

bank debt by €11m to €108.2m (£91.1m).<br />

This has resulted in an improved net bank<br />

debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.9:1, a decrease<br />

from 1.22:1 in 2020.<br />

CEO <strong>Co</strong>nor Galvin said: “The Dairygold<br />

business is in a good financial and<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational position. Following a<br />

decade of significant capital investment,<br />

the business has a strong EBITDA,<br />

manageable debt and a successful model<br />

for member funding.<br />

“Our focus has shifted from milk<br />

expansion to creating more value per<br />

litre of milk. We are currently conducting<br />

a businesswide strategy review which<br />

is expected to be completed by the end<br />

of April. This strategy will provide an<br />

updated roadmap for the business for<br />

the next five to ten years, as we seek to<br />

continue to maximise returns for our<br />

members, through higher margin activities<br />

while also clearly focusing on meeting our<br />

crucial greenhouse gas reduction targets.”<br />

Dairy markets remained buoyant<br />

throughout 2021, says the co-<strong>op</strong>, helped<br />

by low global milk supply growth in the<br />

main exporting regions and strong global<br />

demand, particularly from China.<br />

But it warns of disruption for the rest of<br />

this year, with the Ukraine crisis hitting<br />

supplies of inputs including fertiliser,<br />

energy, packaging and raw materials.<br />

“The resulting inflation, which is already<br />

being felt at farm and factory level, will<br />

p Former CEO Jim Woulfe and chair John O’ Gorman launch the annual report<br />

create challenges for profitability in the<br />

entire value chain,” the report adds.<br />

Meanwhile the strategic focus of<br />

the dairy business has shifted from<br />

capacity management and infrastructure<br />

investment to higher margin processing<br />

and adding value to the litre of milk, in as<br />

sustainable a way as possible.<br />

Dairygold’s Health and Nutrition<br />

Business was established to focus on the<br />

delivery of growth and higher margin for<br />

the society, through the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

“new health and nutrition pr<strong>op</strong>ositions<br />

with strong market appeal”, either through<br />

organic investment or acquisition.<br />

During the year the co-<strong>op</strong> focused on its<br />

two food service businesses in the UK and<br />

Germany, working to mitigate the impact<br />

of the pandemic through streamlining<br />

production, reducing overheads and<br />

improving commercial agreements.<br />

It added: “Dairygold continues to<br />

support its overseas businesses with the<br />

capital investment required to further<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> and grow and as the UK is a net<br />

importer of food, the UK business remains<br />

well placed to continue to grow market<br />

share.”<br />

Dairygold’s Agri Business also grew its<br />

turnover, keeping its network of 26 <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

stores <strong>op</strong>en during lockdown and working<br />

to improve its customer experience and<br />

invest in store restrictions. This year the<br />

society is investing in the upgrading of<br />

its point-of-sale system to enhance the<br />

customer experience.<br />

The society is also working on<br />

sustainability, with its Food Vision Dairy<br />

Group submitting recommendations to<br />

the government on how the agriculture<br />

industry can meet its emissions targets.<br />

In the meantime, says Dairygold, it<br />

continues to build on its established<br />

emissions reduction, nutrient planning<br />

and watercourse protection programmes<br />

while also launching new programmes<br />

such as the Signpost Farms Programme<br />

in 2021. It says it is working with<br />

stakeholders to meet its target, maintain<br />

profitability “and preserve Ireland’s<br />

reputation as a world leader in grass feddairy<br />

production”.<br />

16 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

EUROPE<br />

Agri co-<strong>op</strong>s pick up awards for innovation<br />

The six winners of the 5th Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Award for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Innovation have<br />

been honoured at a ceremony in Brussels.<br />

The awards, run by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Agri-<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>nfederation (<strong>Co</strong>geca) and<br />

sponsored by Spanish co-<strong>op</strong>erative bank<br />

Cajamar Caja Rural, celebrate co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

innovation in the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean agriculture,<br />

food, fishery and forestry sectors.<br />

The ceremony, delayed from last year<br />

because of the pandemic, offered a<br />

platform for actions that offer value to<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative members, devel<strong>op</strong> new<br />

markets and promote new products and<br />

services from Eur<strong>op</strong>ean co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The main focus of the 5th edition is<br />

sustainability-driven innovation. In<br />

the competition brochure announcing<br />

the winners, <strong>Co</strong>geca highlighted the<br />

importance of creating new market outlets,<br />

products, services or processes driven<br />

by economic, social or environmental<br />

objectives in the current market and<br />

political environment.<br />

The social value creation award went<br />

to Spanish fruit and veg co-<strong>op</strong> Mans, for<br />

its work with pe<strong>op</strong>le facing difficulties<br />

including young pe<strong>op</strong>le at risk of<br />

social exclusion.<br />

The Belgian association of fruit and<br />

vegetable co-<strong>op</strong>s’ Care4Growing digital<br />

platform won the award for traceability<br />

and consumer information, and the Polish<br />

Piatnica co-<strong>op</strong> took home the prize for<br />

innovative product, for its whey protein<br />

consumer cocktail – the only produce of<br />

its kind on the Polish market.<br />

Ireland’s Glanbia won the award for<br />

support to farmer-members for its beef<br />

production project Twenty20 Beef Club,<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ed to improve the economic,<br />

social and environmental sustainability of<br />

dairy calf-to-beef production.<br />

Spanish co-<strong>op</strong> Càmara Arrossera<br />

del Montsià’s ORYZITE project won<br />

the bioeconomy and circularity prize.<br />

ORYZITE is a rice-based plastic substitute,<br />

created after more than a decade of<br />

research.<br />

The natural resources and biodiversity<br />

award went to Swedish Lantmännen<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s ThermoSeed project, a<br />

seed treatment which reduces seedborne<br />

infections, reducing the need<br />

for pesticides.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>geca president Ramon Armengol<br />

congratulated the winners and said: “This<br />

5th edition is a special one. It was launched<br />

at the beginning of the pandemic. At the<br />

beginning of a crisis that has required<br />

our enterprises to continue to adjust<br />

their business model. Great innovative<br />

efforts had been put in place to ensure<br />

food security, readjust the mechanisms<br />

of the value chain, remain competitive<br />

on the market, and address the arising<br />

needs of consumers and our food chain<br />

partners. Once again our co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

have demonstrated their resilience, their<br />

capacity and their commitment.”<br />

Mr Armengol also pointed to the crisis<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s are currently facing with the war in<br />

Ukraine and its impact on markets, calling<br />

for more co-<strong>op</strong>eration and innovation<br />

to strengthen the resilience of the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement further.<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> retailer<br />

reports DKK 585m net<br />

profit for 2021<br />

Retailer <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark announced its<br />

annual results, with a net profit of DKK<br />

585m (£66m; €78.6m).<br />

While this is a 24% decline from the DKK<br />

777m reported in 2020, it is an increase<br />

from DKK 392m in 2019 – the pre pandemic<br />

year being taken as a benchmark by many<br />

retailers. Turnover was up by DKK 1.5bn,<br />

from DKK 44.5bn (£5bn; €5.98bn) to DKK<br />

46bn (£5.2bn; €6.18bn) excluding VAT.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> said 2020 had been “an<br />

extraordinarily good year due to the special<br />

circumstances surrounding <strong>Co</strong>vid-19”.<br />

The figure for 2021 “is a satisfactory result<br />

that reflects that it has become everyday in<br />

the grocery trade again,” it added.<br />

Chair Lasse Bolander said: “In 2020, the<br />

borders were closed, most pe<strong>op</strong>le worked<br />

at home and the restaurants were not<br />

<strong>op</strong>en – as you know, this gave a headwind<br />

for the grocery trade. So it is natural<br />

that we do not continue at the same<br />

high level. The result for the year is also<br />

affected by the massive investments in<br />

the digital transformation of the company<br />

and the roll-out of [budget chain] <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

365discount.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> grew its membership, with<br />

48,633 signing up, and its 1.9 million<br />

members received DKK 283m in dividends<br />

in the form of bonuses, which can be used<br />

directly as payment in stores and online.<br />

Throughout the year the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

also continued its efforts to become<br />

“Denmark’s most sustainable company”.<br />

Initiatives included installing 500 electric<br />

charging stands at its stores throughout<br />

Denmark and devel<strong>op</strong>ing a fleet of 23<br />

electric vans and an electric truck. Since<br />

2019 <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark’s solar panels have<br />

generated electricity corresponding to the<br />

annual consumption of 730 households.<br />

p The co-<strong>op</strong>’s Irma chain (Photo: Siine Fiig)<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark expects the year ahead<br />

to be “very challenging” due to rising<br />

costs of energy and the changing sh<strong>op</strong>per<br />

behaviour. It warns that <strong>2022</strong> profits will be<br />

‘significantly lower’. CEO Kræn Østergård<br />

Nielsen said it would focus on rolling<br />

out its new large discount chain, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

365discount, which was first launched<br />

in 2010, and offering cheaper and more<br />

responsible product lines. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark<br />

plans to combine its economies of scale<br />

with local ownership, where each store is<br />

adapted to the needs of local customers.<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 17

EUROPE<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

project to bring<br />

together managers of<br />

agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Romanian co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are coordinating<br />

a Eur<strong>op</strong>ean project focused on helping<br />

managers of co-<strong>op</strong>s to exchange<br />

best practices.<br />

Led by the National Union of Vegetable<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives (UNCSV) the project is<br />

spread across two years and will be run in<br />

partnership with institutions and experts<br />

in France, Greece and Estonia.<br />

The first training session will take place<br />

in Athens, Greece on 20-26 November <strong>2022</strong><br />

and will look at strategic entrepreneurship<br />

and business in agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Estonia will be the host of the second<br />

training session, which will be held<br />

in Tallinn on 12-13 March 2023 and<br />

will explore how to ensure effective<br />

governance in agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

The third session will take place in Lille,<br />

France on 26 November – 2 December 2023<br />

and will focus on managing relationships<br />

in agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Photo: iStock<br />

The managers of UNCSV member co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

taking part in the three sessions will<br />

be able to learn from counterparts in the<br />

three host countries and visit local co<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

The training programme will conclude<br />

with a conference in Bucharest that is<br />

expected to gather over 100 attendees.<br />

EUROPE<br />

Agri co-<strong>op</strong>s respond to Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament Organic Action Plan report<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament has ad<strong>op</strong>ted a<br />

report on the EU’s Organic Action Plan,<br />

which calls for a market-based approach<br />

but does not mention any targets.<br />

The own-initiative report was ad<strong>op</strong>ted<br />

by MEPs during a plenary session in<br />

Strasbourg on 3 May by 611 votes to 14,<br />

with five abstentions. The parliament’s<br />

agriculture committee had already<br />

unanimously approved the report on<br />

6 April.<br />

The text highlights the benefits of<br />

organic farming for climate-change<br />

mitigation, biodiversity and soil<br />

protection but fails to mention the EU’s<br />

target to see 25% of agricultural land<br />

farmed organically by 2030, as previously<br />

outlined in the <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s Farm to Fork<br />

strategy.<br />

“The market should determine the<br />

extent of the growth of the organic<br />

sector, not any pre-set target figure”, said<br />

the Parliament’s rapporteur on the EU<br />

action plan for organic farming, Simone<br />

Schmiedtbauer (EPP, Austria), on 2 May,<br />

ahead of the vote.<br />

The voice of Eur<strong>op</strong>ean farmers and<br />

agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>s, <strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca,<br />

welcomed the report and its inclusion of<br />

“important aspects for Eur<strong>op</strong>ean farmers<br />

and agri co-<strong>op</strong>eratives”.<br />

Photo: iStock<br />

It also noted recognition in the report<br />

for “the vital role of a market-driven<br />

approach in the transition to organic<br />

farming”, and said the report stressed that<br />

the transition should be backed “not only<br />

through the CAP’s support, but also by a<br />

sound devel<strong>op</strong>ment in the quantity and<br />

quality of inputs needed by farmers, such<br />

as seeds and plant protection products, in<br />

line with the organic requirements”.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca says organic farming<br />

is increasingly important in the context<br />

of climate change, <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and the<br />

invasion of Ukraine by Russia and called<br />

on Eur<strong>op</strong>ean legislators to make swift<br />

progress on use of digital and innovative<br />

technologies.<br />

Lone Andersen, chair of <strong>Co</strong>pa and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>geca’s organic working party, said: “I<br />

am glad the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament sends<br />

an important message to the organic<br />

farming community. Eur<strong>op</strong>ean organic<br />

farmers and agri co-<strong>op</strong>eratives need a<br />

close and strong collaboration with EU<br />

institutions and stakeholders if we want<br />

to achieve the ambitious targets set out by<br />

the Farm to Fork Strategy. I h<strong>op</strong>e this nonlegislative<br />

report will send a clear message<br />

to legislators for their future work.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca also welcomed the<br />

request for an impact assessment of the<br />

plan to increase the share of the EU’s<br />

agricultural area under organic farming.<br />

In 2019, the EU’s total agricultural<br />

area under organic farming was 13.8<br />

million hectares and accounted for 8.5%<br />

of the EU’s total utilised agricultural<br />

area. However, this varies significantly<br />

between member states from 0.5% to<br />

26% of agricultural area under organic<br />

farming.<br />

The report is not legally binding.<br />

Own-initiative reports are a tool for the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament to request the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission to put forward a<br />

legislative pr<strong>op</strong>osal on a certain issue. The<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission intends to publish a midterm<br />

review on the Organic Action Plan in 2024.<br />

18 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>


Finance minister outlines plans for credit union growth<br />

The Irish government is looking to help<br />

the credit union sector become a strong,<br />

resilient and collaborative movement,<br />

said finance minister Seán Fleming at<br />

the annual general meeting of the Irish<br />

League of Credit Unions.<br />

Mr Fleming – the first minister to be<br />

given direct responsibility for credit<br />

unions – said his portfolio enabling and<br />

supporting the credit union growth;<br />

helping credit unions expand services,<br />

encouraging community devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

and enabling the credit union movement<br />

to grow as a key provider of community<br />

banking.<br />

He added that he had worked closely<br />

with the League as part of his review of the<br />

policy framework for the sector. As part of<br />

this, the government wants to recognise<br />

the credit unions’ role in devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

volunteers and acknowledge their role as<br />

a large co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement in Ireland.<br />

The Ministry of Finance will also work<br />

to support investment and collaboration<br />

within the sector, added Mr Fleming.<br />

He praised the League for serving credit<br />

unions in both Ireland and Northern<br />

Ireland, says that it provided “an excellent<br />

example of cross border collaborative<br />

initiative”.<br />

He also acknowledged the work of the<br />

League in supporting Credit Unions in<br />

working on SME lending with the Strategic<br />

Banking <strong>Co</strong>rporation of Ireland and<br />

with the Sustainable Energy Authority of<br />

Ireland on funding for retrofit.<br />

He said credit unions, as providers of<br />

unsecured credit, were natural partners of<br />

the government in its initiatives to tackle<br />

climate change.<br />

He gave some examples of collaboration<br />

between government departments and<br />

the credit union sector in devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

new products. This includes credit union<br />

investment in approved housing bodies,<br />

collaborating through credit union group<br />

Cultivate which provides agri-lending,<br />

and providing general insurance products<br />

to members through Pe<strong>op</strong>l, an insurer run<br />

on credit union principles.<br />

Mr Fleming said he was looking at<br />

increasing the flexibility of some of the<br />

rules around the common bond to allow<br />

credit unions to provide more products to<br />

more members.<br />

p Finance minister Seán Fleming<br />

Another change will be the introduction<br />

of service level agreements between credit<br />

unions and the Central Bank to help the<br />

sector create better regulatory dialogue,<br />

while respecting the independence of the<br />

Central Bank<br />

“I’m happy to say that these<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osals got broad support from all<br />

the representative bodies at the recent<br />

stakeholder meeting,” he added. “I would,<br />

however, caution against the temptation<br />

of believing that legislative change alone<br />

will tackle the challenges faced by credit<br />

unions today,<br />

“Legislative amendments to the policy<br />

framework will not solve the financial and<br />

business model challenges arising from,<br />

muted credit demand, strong savings<br />

growth and high <strong>op</strong>erating costs.”<br />

Mr Fleming said he was committed to<br />

cross-border co-<strong>op</strong>eration and praised the<br />

League for encouraging and devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

“collaborative ventures in the credit union<br />

sector in the North and South”.<br />

He added that he welcomed the League’s<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osed transformation plan and said he<br />

looked forward to engaging with the apex<br />

on growing lending, including mortgage<br />

and SME lending.<br />

“It is encouraging to see that loans in<br />

the League’s credit unions here in the<br />

North, were up 2.7% year-on-year in 2021,”<br />

he said. “An increase of 3.3% year-onyear<br />

was recorded in the League’s credit<br />

unions in the South. However, despite<br />

these positive devel<strong>op</strong>ments, loan to asset<br />

ratios in the South are unsustainably low.<br />

The current loan to asset ratio of 27% must<br />

be increased significantly if the sector is to<br />

grow sustainably.<br />

“Without collaboration and growth<br />

in lending credit unions will not be<br />

well placed to take advantage of the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity of bank branch closures<br />

without collaboration and increasing<br />

lending. My message to the credit union<br />

sector today is to lend more and keep<br />

building on the good work you have been<br />

doing.”<br />

Mr Fleming recently met with the<br />

Association of British Credit Unions<br />

and credit unions in Manchester, Leeds,<br />

Glasgow and Edinburgh, in addition to<br />

speaking with his UK equivalent, treasury<br />

minister John Glen.<br />

“This gave me insight into the differing<br />

issues at play across the different<br />

legislative and regulatory frameworks,”<br />

he said.<br />

He also touched on the rapid growth<br />

of fintech and digital banking – which, he<br />

said, represents “both an <strong>op</strong>portunity and<br />

a challenge for credit unions”.<br />

In many towns in Ireland, he said,<br />

the local credit union is now the only<br />

remaining financial institution – which<br />

represents “a great <strong>op</strong>portunity to fill the<br />

gap left by bank exits and closures.”<br />

“There is great <strong>op</strong>portunity for credit<br />

unions to harness devel<strong>op</strong>ments in fintech<br />

to broaden membership and grow lending<br />

and many have already begun to do so,”<br />

he added. “There is also the challenge of<br />

balancing the use of new technologies<br />

while still keeping the essence of<br />

providing community banking.<br />

“While the banking sectors North and<br />

South differ, many of the overarching<br />

issues I have noted apply to both<br />

jurisdictions.”<br />

In his concluding remarks, he said he<br />

believed the credit union sector as one of<br />

society’s “most prized possessions”.<br />

“The local credit union and the<br />

role it can play in the economy and in<br />

communities is more important now than<br />

ever before.”<br />

Abcul conference report, p28-30<br />

Swoboda conference report: p30-32<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 19

USA<br />

$1m boost for programme to drive racial equity in credit unions<br />

CUNA Mutual Group Foundation has<br />

committed to invest US$1m in a fund to<br />

build equity in credit unions led by or<br />

serving pe<strong>op</strong>le of colour.<br />

The money is going to the Racial Equity<br />

and Resilience Investment Fund, which is<br />

<strong>op</strong>erated by Inclusiv, the umbrella group<br />

for credit unions working as community<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment financial institutions<br />

(CDFI), which has been working to<br />

boost financial inclusion in underserved<br />

communities.<br />

The Foundation says its investment will<br />

facilitate secondary capital investments<br />

in minority designated and community<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment credit unions over the next<br />

decade – adding that this marks “an<br />

important next chapter” in its work with<br />

Inclusiv.<br />

“Over the past two decades, CUNA Mutual<br />

Group (CMG) has consistently supported<br />

the mission of Inclusiv promoting financial<br />

inclusion in underserved communities<br />

through credit unions,” says Cedric<br />

Ellis, executive vice president and chief<br />

enterprise services officer of CMG and chair<br />

of the Foundation board.<br />

“With this investment, we will be<br />

aligning the investment strategy of the<br />

Foundation with the DEI goals of the<br />

company and build on the legacy of credit<br />

unions led by leaders of colour.”<br />

The relationship between Inclusiv<br />

and CMG relationship deepened during<br />

the pandemic as the company forged<br />

a strategic partnership with Inclusiv<br />

providing targeted training, technical<br />

assistance, data analytics support to<br />

help credit unions orient their work<br />

and services toward low-income and<br />

communities of colour.<br />

In the past two years, adds CMG, this<br />

collaboration has driven the number<br />

of certified CDFI credit unions to an<br />

all-time high of 476 institutions with<br />

a primary mission and predominant<br />

business activity targeting low-income<br />

and distressed areas. It says this has<br />

unleashed millions of dollars of credit<br />

union lending to pe<strong>op</strong>le and communities<br />

previously excluded from the financial<br />

mainstream.<br />

The Racial Equity Investment Fund,<br />

launched in 2020, deploys secondary<br />

capital to expand economic relief and<br />

to remove barriers to services for credit<br />

unions that are led by and/or serve<br />

communities of colour.<br />

“Secondary capital builds institutional<br />

net worth,” says CMG, “enabling credit<br />

unions to leverage deposits and to<br />

increase lending to minority-owned<br />

businesses, homeowners, and consumers.<br />

Credit unions can expand their impact<br />

in providing access to capital and new<br />

financial <strong>op</strong>portunities to pe<strong>op</strong>le who<br />

are traditionally underserved and<br />

underbanked.”<br />

Cathie Mahon, president and CEO of<br />

Inclusiv, said: “This investment from CMG<br />

Foundation is groundbreaking. Together<br />

we are growing the necessary capital<br />

to help credit unions address systemic<br />

inequity in financial service to low-income<br />

and communities of colour.<br />

“We believe this commitment from CMG<br />

Foundation will pave the way for more<br />

industry secondary capital investments<br />

enabling minority designated and CDFI<br />

credit unions to grow members, lend more<br />

deeply in their communities and grow the<br />

net worth for their institutions and the<br />

members and communities they serve.”<br />

EUROPE<br />

Strasbourg summit explores future of the social economy<br />

Social economy actors met in Strasbourg<br />

last month to discuss the sector’s role in<br />

the future of Eur<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

Organised by the city of Strasbourg, the<br />

conference brought together over 1,000<br />

social economy stakeholders, including<br />

representatives from Social Economy<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e (SSE) and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

The aim of the event was to engage the<br />

sector in the implementation of the Social<br />

Economy Action Plan (SEAP) unveiled in<br />

December 2021.<br />

“The main objective for the social<br />

economy now is to grow and scale up,<br />

making the most of this momentum it is<br />

going through,” said SEE president Juan<br />

Antonio Pedreño. “We now have the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to provide solutions to some<br />

of the issues our society is facing and the<br />

SEAP acknowledges them.<br />

p Juan Antonio Pedreño (Photo: SEE)<br />

“In fact in its 39 pr<strong>op</strong>osals on how to<br />

address the biggest challenges we are<br />

facing, the SEAP mentions these social<br />

and economic issues.<br />

“There are countries in which the social<br />

economy represents 10% of the GDP but in<br />

others it accounts for only 0.5-2%.”<br />

Mr Pedreño added that the social<br />

economy could not grow without<br />

appr<strong>op</strong>riate political and legal<br />

frameworks. Giving his home country<br />

Spain as an example, he said the Social<br />

Economy Law was a big step forward.<br />

“We have the challenge of creating these<br />

legal and political frameworks in those<br />

countries where there are none, The SEAP<br />

explores these possibilities,” he said.<br />

During a session on 6 May participants<br />

heard from Giuseppe Guerini, president of<br />

the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of Industrial<br />

and Service <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (CECOP). He said<br />

access to financing is crucial for small and<br />

medium-sized enterprises and called for<br />

a Eur<strong>op</strong>ean guarantee fund for SMEs and<br />

a social and environmental supporting<br />

factor in the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean banking system to<br />

guarantee loans to #SMEs.<br />

20 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

POLAND<br />

Polish credit<br />

union welcomes<br />

displaced Ukrainians<br />

p Kasa Stefczyka headquarters (credit: WOCCU)<br />

Poland’s largest credit union, Kasa<br />

Stefczyka, has welcomed 500 new<br />

Ukrainian members since the start of the<br />

war in its neighbouring country.<br />

In response to the Russian invasion of<br />

Ukraine, the Gydnia-based credit union,<br />

which has over 300 branches, has set up<br />

a page on its website in Ukrainian that<br />

includes descriptions of its products and<br />

services. New members can also apply to<br />

join online using the credit union’s website.<br />

The credit union also runs an interactive<br />

voice response (IVR) service that allows<br />

Ukrainian speakers to leave a voice<br />

message and receive a call back from a<br />

customer service representative who can<br />

speak to them in their native language.<br />

Displaced Ukrainians arriving in Poland<br />

can apply for a government identification<br />

number which they can they use to<br />

join credit unions. Before the war Kasa<br />

Stefczyka had around 700 Ukrainian<br />

members – the number has grown to more<br />

than 1,200 following the invasion.<br />

The credit union described some of its<br />

efforts to welcome Ukrainians during a<br />

meeting with Elissa McCarter LaBorde,<br />

president and CEO of the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of<br />

Credit Unions (Woccu).<br />

Kasa Stefczyka currently provides<br />

uncollateralised loans for members with<br />

a six-month Polish employment history,<br />

but many Ukrainians arriving in Poland do<br />

not have this and are still looking for work.<br />

The credit union h<strong>op</strong>es to address this via<br />

a guarantee fund that would allow it to<br />

provide small loans to Ukrainian refugees.<br />

Woccu will be working with its team to<br />

search for loan guarantee <strong>op</strong>tions. Kasa<br />

Stefczyka executives also told Ms McCarter<br />

LaBorde they foresee a future need for a<br />

guarantee fund that would allow them to<br />

provide small loans to Ukrainian refugees.<br />

US electric co-<strong>op</strong>s to bring power to Guatemalan village<br />

Barcelona housing co-<strong>op</strong> wins Mies van der Rohe award<br />

Credit unions more likely to improve financial wellbeing<br />

Credit: Getty Images<br />

12 linemen from Oklahoma’s electric co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

have been selected to serve on an<br />

electrification project that will bring power<br />

to the remote village of La Montanita de la<br />

Virgen in Guatemala this August.<br />

The volunteers will join four more<br />

lineworkers from <strong>Co</strong>lorado’s electric<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s to build powerlines, install<br />

transformers and conduct internal wiring.<br />

A Catalan architecture co-<strong>op</strong> has won the<br />

prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award in<br />

Emerging Architecture for its La Borda<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

Chosen from 532 works across 41<br />

different countries, La Borda’s co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model was a key factor in its selection.<br />

Credit union members across the USA<br />

are more likely to say that credit unions<br />

improve their financial wellbeing<br />

compared to customers of other financial<br />

institutions, according to a new white<br />

paper from the Credit Union National<br />

Association (CUNA).<br />

“We have data that shows credit unions<br />

return billions of dollars to their members<br />

and their communities,” said CUNA’s<br />

chief economist Mike Schenk.<br />

Government gives nod to Fonterra’s new capital structure<br />

New Zealand’s government says it is<br />

working to amend the Dairy Industry<br />

Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) to support<br />

Fonterra’s move to a new capital structure.<br />

“The Fonterra co-<strong>op</strong>erative is a key part<br />

of New Zealand’s world-leading dairy<br />

industry and a major export earner for our<br />

economy,” agriculture minister Damien<br />

O’<strong>Co</strong>nnor said on 27 April.<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers states support for abortion rights<br />

Credit: Getty Images<br />

US retail co-<strong>op</strong> apex National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong><br />

Grocers has made a statement in favour<br />

of reproductive rights after Supreme <strong>Co</strong>urt<br />

signalled its intention to overturn Roe v<br />

Wade and return abortion laws to state<br />

control. The co-<strong>op</strong> said it is extending<br />

health benefits pay transport costs for<br />

staff in states with strict abortion laws.<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 21

MEET<br />

Sara Dunham<br />

Chief officer for Travel and<br />

Leisure at Midcounties<br />

Midcounties appointed Sara Dunham chief officer for Travel and<br />

Leisure services in 2021 during one of the most challenging<br />

times ever for the sector. With over 20 years’ experience in the<br />

travel industry, she previously held a variety of senior roles at<br />

British Airways across the airline and tour <strong>op</strong>erating divisions,<br />

leading devel<strong>op</strong>ment of BA’s direct to consumer business<br />

with responsibility for BA.com, mobile, contact centres and<br />

BA Holidays – the UK’s fifth-largest tour <strong>op</strong>erator. She is now<br />

responsible for further growing the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Travel and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Holidays tour <strong>op</strong>erator business, comprising 74 branches and 165<br />

Personal Travel Agents as well as more than 140 members of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Travel <strong>Co</strong>nsortium.<br />



What interested me was the growth <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

within the travel business and the fact that<br />

Midcounties had a purpose other than just<br />

delivering profit, with really strong values focused<br />

on members and doing the right thing. I found<br />

that a really interesting pr<strong>op</strong>osition – not just the<br />

bottom line of doing well as a business and the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to grow it, but the broader purpose<br />

across the society. I had left BA and done some<br />

travelling and volunteering, planning to take time<br />

off before I started doing consultancy work. Then<br />

the whole pandemic situation made me think<br />

more about what was really important. It was<br />

an <strong>op</strong>portunity to work for an organisation that<br />

delivers for the greater good, building greater<br />

benefit for the pe<strong>op</strong>le we deal with. It was a perfect<br />

storm and everything came together at once.<br />


FOR YOU?<br />

I am in the office three to four days a week in<br />

Warwick or Walsall. It is a combination of working<br />

from home or being out and about meeting agents<br />

and retail partners.<br />

The first thing I do is look at what is going on in<br />

the external market. As we have seen particularly<br />

in the last couple of years, anything can happen in<br />

the world, affecting pe<strong>op</strong>le’s ability to travel. I look<br />

at things like yesterday’s sales, levels of member<br />

engagement and customer satisfaction. I check<br />

in with the team on strategic delivery projects,<br />

working through the programmes we have to<br />

support the strategy and what comes in the next<br />

six months. Then there are <strong>op</strong>erational challenges,<br />

queries, talking to consortium agents or dealing<br />

with customer issues and supporting delivery,<br />

looking at the here and now, moving the business<br />

forward and looking at what comes next.<br />



We made a commitment at our<br />

AGM that in five years’ time<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Holidays will represent<br />

50% of the holidays we sell<br />

Pe<strong>op</strong>le couldn’t go on holiday and while we did<br />

have many colleagues on furlough, unlike<br />

hospitality, we had to keep the business <strong>op</strong>en<br />

as pe<strong>op</strong>le had to be able to rebook holidays. As<br />

the lockdowns continued and restrictions kept<br />

changing, the demands on our pe<strong>op</strong>le were actually<br />

greater, but we were not selling holidays, just<br />

rebooking the same ones maybe three or four times.<br />

It was really tough for pe<strong>op</strong>le trying to keep focused<br />

22 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

and motivated. As we brought pe<strong>op</strong>le back after<br />

furlough in September, demand still hadn’t picked<br />

up, but at least we were able to offer employment at<br />

a time when the travel business wasn’t sustainable;<br />

some colleagues worked in retail food stores until<br />

after Christmas. Now, coming out of <strong>Co</strong>vid, we<br />

are seeing some very strong performances. Since<br />

the middle of January, when travel restrictions<br />

were lifted from the UK, we have been running<br />

at above 2019 booking levels – which has been a<br />

much stronger bounceback than we would have<br />

predicted.<br />



I think it has made pe<strong>op</strong>le realise how much they<br />

value travel and holidays, whether that means<br />

spending more time with the family, travelling to<br />

more remote places, or doing bucket list holidays.<br />

There is a greater appreciation of travel agents<br />

because it has become more complicated to<br />

travel. Customers and members are looking for<br />

more reassurance when choosing where to go. We<br />

are now seeing a large segment having not had<br />

a holiday for two or three years and absolutely<br />

prioritising that, so there are lots of late bookings<br />

for this summer. We are starting to grow our<br />

own tour <strong>op</strong>erator <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Holidays, which we are<br />

offering through consortium travel agents and<br />

retail branches. When it was launched it was more<br />

a city-break product – now we are introducing<br />

more <strong>op</strong>tions with a greater focus on sustainability.<br />



We made a commitment at our AGM that in five<br />

years’ time <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Holidays will represent 50%<br />

of the holidays we sell, so that is a real focus. We<br />

need to work out where that growth will come<br />

from, continuing to work with consortia, partners<br />

and travel agents, modernising our business and<br />

bringing new products to the market. There are still<br />

challenges around customers needing reassurance<br />

and advice – that presents an <strong>op</strong>portunity for us as<br />

travel agents to provide that. Sales are rebounding<br />

but the level of rebooking and administration is still<br />

significantly higher. There are still staff shortages,<br />

different levels of capacity, recruitment challenges<br />

and now of course cost of living concerns. There are<br />

segments of the p<strong>op</strong>ulation who after two years of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid are determined to have a holiday – but also<br />

a growing number of pe<strong>op</strong>le are concerned about<br />

the cost of living, so not taking or cancelling the<br />

holidays they have booked. That is going to have an<br />

impact on us and them.<br />



Go Beyond is our charity partner for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Holidays<br />

and this year our donation will be £50,000. In<br />

the first three months of the year, the money we<br />

donated meant 165 children and young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

between the ages of 8 and 15 could go on Go Beyond<br />

breaks in <strong>Co</strong>rnwall and the Peak District. For every<br />

booking, we donate £1 to the charity and we collect<br />

unused currency which is also donated. We have<br />

had that partnership just coming up for a year, and<br />

it is a great thing to do.<br />





The particular appeal of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Travel is in our<br />

branches, our colleagues and the service they give<br />

members and customers. We do regular customer<br />

surveys and have exceptionally high customer<br />

satisfaction levels. The appeal of the brand is it<br />

is well-known, trusted and in uncertain times<br />

customers look to brands they know. We work<br />

with a wide range of partners and are actively<br />

focusing on growing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Holidays. It is a key<br />

way to represent brand values and have more of<br />

an influence on customer business. We can choose<br />

which hotels we work with and design holidays<br />

with our members in mind, making sure that we are<br />

more focused on things like sustainability and can<br />

deliver something different, such as holidays using<br />

rail transport as an alternative to air.<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 23


Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> announces <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

profit of £7.4m<br />

In considering my memory of the h<strong>op</strong>edfor<br />

debt curve over time presented at the<br />

Midcounties AGM four years ago, as a<br />

member co-owner I am pleased with the<br />

following quote : “These decisions formed<br />

part of a prudent and balanced approach<br />

to the society’s finances that saw debt<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our stories<br />

online at thenews.co<strong>op</strong>, get in<br />

touch via social media, or send us<br />

a letter. If sending a letter, please<br />

include your address and contact<br />

number. Letters may be edited and<br />

no longer than 350 words.<br />

levels reduce by more than 37% over the<br />

course of the year.”<br />

After the shock of a high so much out<br />

of whack with past performance, the<br />

signs seem good for us as members, who<br />

may wish the board to get to the position<br />

where it wants to be and express genuine<br />

choice over the use of external finance<br />

(to the extent it demands for prime<br />

pristine neighbourhoods for profit over<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong>, Holyoake<br />

House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong><br />

the concept of generating surplus in non<br />

exceptional areas members might also<br />

live, a bad thing) and pull the society<br />

into a position where recent (very prime)<br />

new assets can <strong>op</strong>erate trade with a co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference and expand their new<br />

franchise of members bit by bit.<br />

Luke Blakey<br />

via Website<br />

Member engagement in county cricket<br />

after the Yorkshire racism scandal<br />

The interesting issue is what impact this<br />

has on the FCA’s policy more broadly. It’s<br />

been axiomatic that the FCA would register<br />

societies where the members elected the<br />

majority of the society’s board, but here,<br />

only 2/11 - 18% of the Board are elected by<br />

and from the members.<br />

Dave Boyle<br />

via website<br />

Space to<br />

work<br />

Space to<br />

grow<br />

Space for<br />

change<br />

Leading the movement in workspaces for those who lead the change,<br />

with spaces currently available to rent<br />

Visit www.ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk Email sales@ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk or call 01865 207 810 to find out more<br />

24 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>


Just Film Festival: a preview<br />

“Working together” is the theme of the Just<br />

Film Festival <strong>2022</strong>, and it has a decidedly<br />

international flavour, writes Kate Palser,<br />

chair of Birmingham Film <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

The festival, now in its second year, is<br />

organised by Birmingham Film <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> with<br />

support from Central England Society and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Press. Here, we bring you a preview<br />

of events ...<br />

The festival <strong>op</strong>ens on Friday, 24 <strong>June</strong><br />

with the documentary I Am Belmaya, the<br />

story of a young Nepalese woman living<br />

a life of poverty, affected by violence, but<br />

who wants to create films. Reviews of this<br />

uplifting film say she is “the definition of<br />

resilient and <strong>op</strong>timistic”.<br />

Screened in person and online, te film<br />

is followed by a pre-recorded question<br />

and answer session, and is a fitting start<br />

for the festival: it confronts us with vital<br />

questions about who gets to tell the stories<br />

that we see on screen.<br />

One of our festival partners is Woodcraft<br />

Folk and so it’s apt that the second film is<br />

Dear Future Children, the story of three<br />

young environmental activists from Hong<br />

Kong, Uganda and Chile. It shows the<br />

impact that campaigning has on their<br />

personal lives.<br />

Praised by critics as entertaining yet<br />

thought-provoking, this is a film that<br />

reminds us how much young pe<strong>op</strong>le,<br />

in particular, have to lose from climate<br />

change. It will be shown on Saturday, 25<br />

<strong>June</strong>, in collaboration with Birmingham<br />

Friends of the Earth. It’s appr<strong>op</strong>riate that<br />

all in-person screenings will be at the<br />

Warehouse, Birmingham Friends of the<br />

Earth’s community-building based in<br />

Digbeth.<br />

The first Sunday of the festival brings<br />

another brand of activism in Bank Job.<br />

Ever wanted to make your own money?<br />

Throughout 2018/19, artists <strong>op</strong>erated<br />

out of a former bank on a high street<br />

in Walthamstow, north-east London,<br />

printing banknotes/artwork and selling<br />

£40,000 worth of them. Find out how they<br />

did it – and what they used the money for.<br />

And “expect explosions, community and<br />

active h<strong>op</strong>e”.<br />

The second weekend kicks off on Friday,<br />

p (Clockwise) On Our Doorstep; Dear Future Children and I am Belmaya – some of the films<br />

showing at the <strong>2022</strong> Just Film Festival<br />

1 July with a heartwarming drama: The<br />

Last Bus. Tom, a pensioner whose wife<br />

Mary has just passed away, travels the<br />

length of the country, from John O’Groats<br />

to his hometown near Land’s End, using<br />

his free bus pass, carrying only a small<br />

suitcase. Along the way, his adventures<br />

are recorded by the pe<strong>op</strong>le he meets and<br />

helps, and by the end of his trip he has<br />

become a social media celebrity.<br />

Saturday night, 2 July, brings another<br />

highlight, the crowdfunded documentary<br />

On Our Doorstep, telling the story of the<br />

Calais Jungle and the volunteers who<br />

went there to help. Birmingham Film <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

is excited to welcome director Thomas<br />

Laurance to a question and answer session<br />

after the film, along with local volunteers<br />

shown in the film.<br />

Just as volunteers found the experience<br />

of the camps was not what they had<br />

expected, so the film tells a tale that can<br />

amuse, frustrate and sadden – as well as<br />

raising significant questions about our<br />

role as citizens.<br />

Sunday 3 July brings the final selections<br />

from entries in the film shorts competition.<br />

It promises documentaries and drama<br />

(from at least three continents), animation<br />

and imagination – culminating in the<br />

awards for the winners. Watch how<br />

participants have chosen to explore the<br />

theme of “working together”, and perhaps<br />

feel inspired by the power of film to share<br />

ideas and emotions.<br />

u The Just Film Festival <strong>2022</strong> runs from<br />

Friday 24th <strong>June</strong> to sunday 3rd July.<br />

All films a re a vailable t o w atch o nline,<br />

with some in-person screening <strong>op</strong>tions and<br />

online discussions.<br />

Tickets for individual films or a whole<br />

festival pass can be purchased<br />

from our online screening prtal at<br />

justfilmfestival22.eventive.org/welcome<br />

Birmingham Film <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> screens<br />

“films for a fairer world” on the second<br />

Thursday of every month, with many<br />

available to watch online. See<br />

facebook.com/justfilmco<strong>op</strong> for details<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 25

y Rebecca Harvey<br />



q The UK Worker<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Weekend was<br />

hosted at Selgars Mill,<br />

Devon<br />

In 1971, the Industrial <strong>Co</strong>mmon Ownership<br />

Movement (ICOM) was set up as a national<br />

umbrella and lobbying organisation for<br />

workers’ co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in the UK. It merged<br />

with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Union in 2001 to<br />

form <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, with a Worker<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>uncil elected to ”shape strategic<br />

priorities” for worker co-<strong>op</strong>s and employeeowned<br />

business members.<br />

But all this is about to change, with a new<br />

organisation being planned to support the<br />

UK worker co-<strong>op</strong> movement. Early this year,<br />

the Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>uncil resolved to form a<br />

completely new and independent “federation<br />

of worker co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, individual co-<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

and supporters of industrial democracy”. The<br />

initial plan has been endorsed by the board and<br />

senior management of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK. Plans<br />

were further devel<strong>op</strong>ed by worker co-<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

who gathered for the Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Weekend,<br />

which took place at Selgars Mill, Devon, over<br />

International Workers’ Day on 1 May.<br />

“There was a presentation and discussion<br />

about how we got to where we are now; a session<br />

on naming, vision and mission; and a look at the<br />

next practical next steps,” says Siôn Whellens,<br />

who is a member of worker co-<strong>op</strong>erative Calverts<br />

and sits on the Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>uncil.<br />

“We started to form working groups to think<br />

about how to get to the point where we’re ready<br />

to launch. There are a lot of known unknowns –<br />

but it’s taking shape.”<br />

The Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>uncil has been in<br />

conversation with <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK staff<br />

and board a lot over the last year, adds Mr<br />

Whellens. “It’s got to the point where we have an<br />

agreement, and hence terms for the relationship<br />

between the new organisation and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK.<br />

There will need to be more detail, but the broad<br />

principles are there. Two important elements are<br />

that worker co-<strong>op</strong> and employee-owned (EO)<br />

members of the organisation will be offered dual<br />

membership with <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK at a symbolic extra<br />

cost, and that <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK will materially support<br />

it during the formative first two years”.<br />


The vision of the organisation (the name is still<br />

under discussion) is to bring together an alliance<br />

of pe<strong>op</strong>le and organisations “with an explicit<br />

focus on worker issues, worker-led organising,<br />

social solidarity, and economic justice”.<br />

Mr Whellens stresses that it’s a very different<br />

context and process to the one that formed<br />

ICOM 50 years ago. “In the 1970s there was a<br />

resurgence of worker and what we now call<br />

community co-<strong>op</strong>s, which led to a rediscovery<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative system as something that<br />

could benefit workers. The social-democratic<br />

government of the time supported policy around<br />

common ownership, and there was funding from<br />

local and central government for co-<strong>op</strong>s. ICOM<br />

was founded to support that.”<br />

This changed in the 1990s, with a shift away<br />

from supportive policy. “It became all about<br />

outputs and outcomes,” says Mr Whellens.<br />

“Ownership and control didn’t matter; and<br />

American and Eur<strong>op</strong>ean ideas of social enterprise<br />

were imported and picked up by pe<strong>op</strong>le in the<br />

space of New Labour. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s – and worker co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

in particular – were off the agenda.”<br />

But he thinks the pendulum is swinging<br />

back again. “I think the UK is seeing another<br />

ideological turn, where pe<strong>op</strong>le working in the<br />

social enterprise, charity, and the foundation<br />

sectors are starting to think that actually, maybe<br />

26 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

ownership and control do matter. Worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s are a proven antidote to poverty and<br />

social exclusion. <strong>Co</strong>nversations around the<br />

meaning of work are back on the agenda in a<br />

way they haven’t been for a long time.<br />

“There’s an <strong>op</strong>portunity to start pursuing<br />

some of those conversations with a much wider<br />

group of pe<strong>op</strong>le, and to make the worker co-<strong>op</strong><br />

system available to pe<strong>op</strong>le.”<br />

The new federation is starting out small –<br />

there are around 400 worker co-<strong>op</strong>s in the UK<br />

– but is receiving support and guidance from<br />

other federations worldwide, including the US<br />

Federation of Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives. “USFWC is<br />

a relatively new organisation that has managed<br />

to pull together something that works really<br />

effectively with little core resource in terms of<br />

membership subscriptions. They don’t have a<br />

vast amount of rich work co-<strong>op</strong>s to fund it, so<br />

they have to pull resources together in different<br />

ways. We can learn from that,” says Mr Whellens.<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK has been a home for worker co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

for 20 years, but Mr Whellens believes that<br />

over the last decade, there has been “a growing<br />

realisation that it can’t really speak about worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration authentically, or devel<strong>op</strong> the<br />

worker co-<strong>op</strong>-specific resources we really need”.<br />

He adds: “It’s a general membership<br />

organisation, covering an enormous range<br />

of different types of members. It talks to<br />

policymakers and professional co-<strong>op</strong>s, but not<br />

to workers. At one point we did have our own<br />

membership officer within <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK who<br />

looked after the worker co-<strong>op</strong> constituency but<br />

that’s gradually gone over the years, so we don’t<br />

have anyone doing that on a full-time basis.<br />

“In our view, it’s also got pulled towards<br />

seeing employee ownership as the solution in<br />

a business conversion or transfer or situation,<br />

and worker co-<strong>op</strong>s as the solution for startups.<br />

That’s been really difficult for us because we<br />

don’t agree with it.<br />

“There has been a progressive loss of a<br />

distinctive voice and service for worker co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and we reached a point where we realised we<br />

need an independent voice and an independent<br />

network that can be more agile, less bureaucratic,<br />

more focused on the primary audience for worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration – which is workers.”<br />

The new federation will still work very closely<br />

with <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, and the UK apex is<br />

broadly supportive. “Rose [Marley, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK CEO] is enthusiastic, there are some board<br />

members who are clearly on board, with others<br />

perhaps consenting to it. But we believe that<br />

if this works, it could be a whole new way for<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK to model its membership offer with<br />

federal members and their members in turn.”<br />


The federation is working with <strong>Co</strong>Tech, the<br />

network of worker technology co-<strong>op</strong>s, to<br />

look at how to use tech in its start-up and<br />

implementation: “In the 1970s, you had to write<br />

letters and books and pamphlets. Now we’ve<br />

got new channels, new ways of communicating,<br />

new ways of working together, that are based on<br />

new technologies. Part of our strategic thinking<br />

is around tech. How do we use tech critically,<br />

both for process and for communication?”<br />

The plan is to launch the new federation in<br />

early 2023, with the first step being to appoint<br />

a project manager. “We’re looking for someone<br />

to fundraise and manage the project, manage<br />

the different working groups, put all the<br />

infrastructure in place that will need to make it<br />

work, devel<strong>op</strong> membership policy and begin the<br />

detailed business planning,” says Mr Whellens.<br />

The <strong>2022</strong> Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Weekend was the<br />

first step on a very exciting journey for the UK’s<br />

worker co-<strong>op</strong> movement, with the working<br />

groups already exploring issues around culture,<br />

policy, communication and membership. They<br />

are using a sociocratic approach, with member<br />

involvement being at the heart of everything.<br />

“There are worker co-<strong>op</strong>s out there that we<br />

don’t know about,” says Mr Whellens. “And<br />

there are certainly employee-owned (EO)<br />

businesses out there that might be interested<br />

in turbo-charging their ownership model with<br />

democratic control. But we’re going to have<br />

to think carefully about how we present the<br />

question of ownership. Because ownership is<br />

a really complex subject, and ‘being an owner’<br />

has different meanings depending on who you<br />

talk to. It’s an incredibly exciting journey.”<br />

“WORKER<br />

CO-OPS ARE<br />

A PROVEN<br />





p The weekend<br />

explored the <strong>op</strong>tions<br />

around a new<br />

federation for worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s in the UK<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 27

y Miles Hadfield<br />





p Eric Broome &<br />

Nickolas Kitchens<br />

from Georgia’s Own<br />

Credit Union discuss<br />

ways to future-proof a<br />

credit union (Photos:<br />

Abcul)<br />

28 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong><br />

Britain’s credit unions met for their annual<br />

conference in May, with the Manchester’s<br />

reliably cloudy skies matching a gloomy<br />

economic outlook. Delegates were glad to<br />

be meeting in person after the pandemic,<br />

but the event – organised by the Association<br />

of British Credit Unions (Abcul) – saw them<br />

face up to the next crisis: the country’s<br />

biggest fall in living standards in 70 years.<br />

But while the wolf is hanging round the door,<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity is also knocking. Treasury minister<br />

John Glen announced plans to <strong>op</strong>en new<br />

markets to the sector (news, p12), and there<br />

are <strong>op</strong>tions within the movement; one<br />

session looked at whether UK credit<br />

unions can ad<strong>op</strong>t the community<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment credit union (CDCU) model, led<br />

in the US by apex body Inclusiv.<br />

With a commitment to financial inclusion<br />

and community devel<strong>op</strong>ment, the 456 CDCUs<br />

in the US serve 17 million pe<strong>op</strong>le, offering<br />

“affordable financial services at good rates to<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le with no credit scores, who have not<br />

taken part in the<br />

financial system”, said René Vargas Martínez,<br />

director of Inclusiv’s Puerto Rican network.<br />

Those excluded from traditional banking<br />

include immigrants, pe<strong>op</strong>le with bad credit and<br />

those suspicious of traditional banks who store<br />

their money “under the bed” – and if you win<br />

these pe<strong>op</strong>le’s trust, they will bring others from<br />

their community, said Mr Martínez.<br />

This market has seen huge growth because<br />

there is no competition apart from predatory<br />

lenders. “All the research we have of underserved<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le or pe<strong>op</strong>le on lower tiers show us they are<br />

loyal and they will pay their loans,” added Mr<br />

Martínez. “There is some delinquency but if you<br />

offer pe<strong>op</strong>le used to 50% interest a cheap rate,<br />

they will come back and build their credit.”<br />

Scott Butterfield, from US service organisation<br />

Your Credit Union Partner, said: “In a working<br />

class or minority area there’s never been a better<br />

time to be a credit union or CDCU.”<br />

As inflation erodes living standards, these<br />

areas will need help; Mr Butterfield advised<br />

credit unions to “go into the community and tell

a story”, appoint a “community-focused board”<br />

and tailor products to local social needs; for<br />

instance, US CDCUs offer finance for survivors of<br />

domestic abuse.<br />

Ian Brewer, from Bradford District Credit<br />

Union, discussed his efforts to put some of these<br />

ideas into practice in England. His credit union,<br />

formed in 1993 to help council staff get credit in<br />

a recession, <strong>op</strong>ened its membership in 2005, to<br />

all residents.<br />

Initiatives include Sharia-compliant lending,<br />

payroll lending, and partnerships with the local<br />

council to counter loan sharks and fund a school<br />

uniform savers club. This was awarded £40,000<br />

from the council to give each participating<br />

parent a £100 reward for regular saving towards<br />

a school uniform; for each account the credit<br />

union got £40. The programme has improved the<br />

mental health and financial habits in families<br />

taking part, said Mr Brewer. “What we do no one<br />

else can do in this neighbourhood.”<br />

“If a meaningful number of UK credit unions<br />

come together and do this, you can leverage<br />

government funding,” said Mr Butterfield. “You<br />

might take more risk but the government might<br />

support you if you can show impact.”<br />

The session was not the only one to look at the<br />

economic crisis. A lengthy panel debate looked<br />

at how mergers can save struggling credit unions<br />

and enable growth.<br />

Eric Broome, from Georgia’s Own Credit<br />

Union in the US, said since May 2009 his credit<br />

union had carried out nine mergers – as well as<br />

acquiring a single-site bank, another growing<br />

strategy for the US sector. This has brought in<br />

$455m in assets and 69,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

Mergers and acquisitions is “quicker than<br />

organic growth”, he said. “Organic growth is<br />

critically important,” he added, “it’s where you<br />

make your hay, but it can be tough.”<br />

Mr Broome said there is a lot of work involved<br />

in getting a merger right, and choosing the right<br />

merger. “It’s important to consider systems, do<br />

due diligence and especially retain employees.<br />

With mergers, he said, every employee comes<br />

over and is ideally kept in a matched role.<br />

“If they do change role, we upskill them<br />

and make sure they add to their portfolio of<br />

experience. Key person retention is important –<br />

keep executives and senior managers, especially<br />

as you expand outwards geographically because<br />

they have the local knowledge and contacts.”<br />

From the UK, there was a different perspective<br />

from Kathryn Fogg of Pennine Credit Union,<br />

which has carried out several mergers – most<br />

recently last year with Affinity Credit Union.<br />

Affinity, which had branches across the Lake<br />





CDCU”<br />

District, was in trouble, she said. Having<br />

been created itself from a number of smaller,<br />

struggling credit unions, it was a mess of<br />

mismatched systems, with no one taking control<br />

and members unhappy with their service.<br />

Affinity was a rescue mission, she said, but<br />

although it delivered no inorganic growth – a<br />

half million loan book and 1,000 members – it<br />

brought the potential for organic growth. “Since<br />

then we’ve lent a million in new cash, and added<br />

2,000 members to the 1,000 brought over.”<br />

The merger was hard work, she added,<br />

and it took six months to allay the doubts of<br />

stakeholders, including the local authorities who<br />

were partnered with Affinity and saw Pennine as<br />

“the big bad wolf”. But members are happy with<br />

the improved service.<br />

Ms Fogg warned that in the UK, credit<br />

unions are smaller, bringing more potential for<br />

personality clashes than with US mergers; and<br />

there are risks in retaining leaders from failing<br />

credit unions. Above all, she stressed due<br />

diligence. “Your members will want to know<br />

what you are getting into.”<br />

But failing credit unions can be turned around.<br />

Jonathan Moore, a building society professional<br />

who joined Stockport Credit Union as CEO in<br />

2019, presented a session on how the troubled<br />

lender saw off the existential crisis of <strong>Co</strong>vid-19.<br />

With a weak marketing presence, unpaid staff,<br />

and inconsistent processes, Stockport CU was<br />

p Abcul president<br />

Paul Norgrove <strong>op</strong>ens<br />

the event<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 29

p Jonathan Moore<br />

of Stockport Credit<br />

Union (Photo:<br />

Stockport CU)<br />









already in a mess before the pandemic, he said.<br />

It had no capacity for home-working, leaving<br />

him scrambling to buy lapt<strong>op</strong>s before lockdown<br />

took effect, and no digitisation.<br />

The credit union’s initial response to the<br />

pandemic – a savings drive – was a mistake; the<br />

capital outflow it had feared from members never<br />

materialised and it was left with an expensive<br />

savings book to run.<br />

It corrected this error with two emergency loan<br />

schemes, including one with the local council<br />

which brought some grant income, publicity,<br />

and a good relationship with Stockport <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

which led to further projects and grants.<br />

Mr Brewer streamlined the lending process,<br />

reducing loan decision times from a week to<br />

three days, and in some cases the same day;<br />

ringing members to offer consolidation loans;<br />

and bringing in digital lending. Stockport’s<br />

loan book has gone from £1m to £1.8m since<br />

September 2019 and throughout the crisis it<br />

carried on paying dividends.<br />

The sector was facing challenges before the<br />

pandemic. In a panel session on future proofing,<br />

Eric Broome and Nickolas Kitchens from<br />

Georgia’s Own Credit Union looked at ways to<br />

adapt business models to a changing business<br />

environment. Again, mergers and acquisitions<br />

are useful: by building scale, credit unions can<br />

offer more products – and stand a better chance<br />

against fintech rivals, the biggest challenge<br />

facing the sector.<br />

“Since 2010 there have been 3,5000 deals<br />

in the US for over $1tn – and the credit union<br />

share of this is low,” they warned. In seven years<br />

fintechs have taken 40% of auto loans in the US<br />

by offering quick decisions and low rates. This is<br />

a key market for US credit unions and they are<br />

falling behind. No credit union can see off this<br />

challenge alone, said Mr Broome. “We have got<br />

to collaborate as a movement.”<br />

He said credit union service organisations are<br />

important here, offering shared services such as<br />

payments and digital, while trade bodies like<br />

CUNA offer vital advocacy.<br />

Credit unions can also team up with fintechs<br />

themselves. “They are competition and can<br />

invest in tech more quickly. We can either let<br />

them pass us by or find a way to work with them,<br />

and buy a stake in them.”<br />

In a panel session on diversity – another<br />

pressing challenge – Rosa Franco, from<br />

Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union, a<br />

CDCU in upper Manhattan, NYC, presented a case<br />

study of how a credit union can drive inclusion<br />

in low-income immigrant neighbourhoods<br />

to offer checking accounts, consumer loans,<br />

business finance and mortgages. Led by a<br />

diverse, bilingual team, it offers consolidation<br />

loans to rescue members from predatory lenders;<br />

financial counselling; and programmes to<br />

formalise members in the tax-paying economy.<br />

Abcul’s Inclusivity Group (AIG) is looking for a<br />

way forward on diversity for the UK movement,<br />

Its chair, Bobby Gould, said: “Credit unions are<br />

for everyone but we need to find a way to remove<br />

the barriers as democratic organisations,”<br />

adding that the AIG has drawn on work already<br />

done by the Filene Research Institute, as well<br />

as the experiences of organisations outside the<br />

movement which have been on similar journeys.<br />

The AIG had offered a safe space, she added,<br />

with a “group code of conduct as to how we<br />

work together, have difficult conversations in an<br />

environment that is <strong>op</strong>en and trusted.”<br />

A poll of conference delegates found that 44%<br />

thought Abcul is inclusive, with 49% saying<br />

maybe and 9% no. Panellist Ruksana Kauser,<br />

who sits on the AIG, said: “A few years ago I<br />

would have said no, now I would say yes.”<br />

She added: “I don’t want just to be invited to<br />

the party, I want to dance on the table … we want<br />

to be included and get everybody’s <strong>op</strong>inion.”<br />

30 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

y Rebecca Harvey<br />




Credit union representatives, members<br />

and researchers from Ireland, the UK and<br />

beyond also gathered in gathered in Dublin<br />

in May, to discuss how credit union lending<br />

can help individuals and businesses with the<br />

transition to environmental sustainability.<br />

In the context of the cost of living crisis, Brexit,<br />

the war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid-19, how can credit unions find the energy<br />

and impetus to support the green investment<br />

required over the next 10 years to reduce harmful<br />

fossil fuel emissions? What they are doing now?<br />

And how are members being engaged on this?<br />

Introducing the day, Dr Paul Jones of the<br />

Swoboda Research Centre and Liverpool John<br />

Moores University defined what is meant by<br />

‘green lending’. “It can be financing for projects<br />

that contribute to environmental sustainability,<br />

such as retrofitting, replacing petrol and diesel<br />

vehicles with electric vehicles, or investing<br />

in reuse and recycling capabilities,” he said,<br />

but added it could also be where the purpose<br />

of the loan itself may not be ‘green’, but the<br />

interest rate of the loan is adjusted downwards<br />

if sustainability targets are hit.<br />

“Green lending can be multifaceted, but the<br />

green lending <strong>op</strong>portunity is important and<br />

significant right now from a sustainability point<br />

of view.”<br />

The Irish government has a target of<br />

upgrading 500,000 homes to B2 Building Energy<br />

Rating (BER) standard, by 2030. In February,<br />

the department of the environment, climate and<br />

communications announced a raft of measures<br />

to achieve this, which will be administered by<br />

the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland<br />

(SEAI). This includes increased grant levels<br />

for retrofits; One St<strong>op</strong> Sh<strong>op</strong>s to support energy<br />

upgrade queries; an increase in the number of<br />

free energy upgrades for those at risk of energy<br />

poverty; an enhanced grant rate for attic and<br />

cavity wall insulation for all households; and an<br />

investment of €8bn (£6.8bn) over the next eight<br />

years to enable the supply chain to scale up.<br />

SEAI’s Josephine Maguire described how<br />

the organisation works with homeowners,<br />

businesses, communities and the government to<br />

transform how pe<strong>op</strong>le think about, generate and<br />

use energy – and how credit unions are vital to<br />

this work.<br />

“You are in every community and every<br />

locality,” she said. “You are central to<br />

communities and can be involved in demand<br />

generation campaigns, look at supply chains<br />

and help to bring low-cost financing into the<br />

market for home retrofit.”<br />

David McDonnell, from Naomh Breandán<br />

Credit Union (NBCU) in East Galway, described<br />

how the organisation has been working with the<br />

SEAI to galvanise the local community around<br />

sustainability. The credit union was founded in<br />

the Loughrea postal district in 1966, and by 2016<br />

had an 83% penetration rate in the common<br />

bond area and €65.5m (£55.8m) in assets.<br />

“Our vision is: ‘Together, building a better<br />

tomorrow for our community’, and we are driven<br />

to continue to promote NBCU’s importance<br />

to its community,” he said. Five years ago,<br />

NBCU explored what was of most importance<br />

to the organisation. The answer? “It wasn’t the<br />

financials, it was the social aspect.”<br />

To support its non-financial social return,<br />

NBCU worked with SEAI to support the set-up<br />

of Sustainable Energy West (SEW) in 2018, “to<br />

stimulate and lead a local movement of energy<br />

efficiency and sustainable living where everyone<br />

benefits”.<br />

They devel<strong>op</strong>ed a competency compass to help<br />

plot the progress of projects against elements<br />

such as planning, engagement and renewable<br />

energy, and have run projects around residential<br />

and commercial pr<strong>op</strong>erty, agriculture,<br />

biodiversity and meteorological monitoring –<br />

for which Transition Year (TY) students from St<br />

Raphael’s <strong>Co</strong>llege and St Brigid’s <strong>Co</strong>llege took<br />

part in the Air Quality Campaign Ireland 2019,<br />

measuring the quality of air within the school<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 31

grounds, outside the school grounds and at nontraffic<br />

areas near the school.<br />

There was wide agreement from delegates<br />

that sustainability should be viewed as a natural<br />

fit for the credit union sector. Billy Doyle, CEO<br />

of Dundalk Credit Union, went a step further.<br />

Intrinsic to this, he believes, is the purpose of<br />

credit unions, and their link to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement.<br />

“Purpose matters,” he said.<br />

“The concept of organisational<br />

purpose has undergone a<br />

renaissance in recent years<br />

and is now a key to strategy<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and cultural<br />

alignment. In the disrupted<br />

world we’re in, organisations<br />

with purpose are more<br />

enduring and sustainable.<br />

Once they’re clear on why they<br />

exist, a clear purpose also<br />

reconnects an organisation<br />

with its own values and<br />

principles.”<br />

But he warned that although core co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

values are deeply embedded in credit union<br />

DNA, “we can sometimes lose the centrality<br />

of our purpose and get disconnected from our<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative heritage”.<br />

“That’s why purpose is so important,” he<br />

added. “Do credit unions walk the walk when it<br />

comes to living our co-<strong>op</strong>erative values? Do we<br />

measure things in financial terms or member<br />

outcomes? Do our members understand what<br />

being a member is in terms of the <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

and responsibilities?”<br />

He highlighted how Dundalk CU addressed<br />

these questions in the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of its 2025<br />

strategic plan, which has members at its core.<br />

“As a member-owned financial co-<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

credit unions exist to empower members [...]<br />

and provide stability for the community, the<br />

economy and the environment,” he said.<br />

“Putting purpose, members and mutuality at<br />

the heart of the organization and the strategy<br />

process, represents a step-change on our current<br />

model [...] we needed to reposition ourselves to<br />

put members at the centre of the organisation<br />

in a tangible way, to facilitate them and the<br />

community to do things for themselves.”<br />

Also speaking was Seán Fleming, minister of<br />

state for finance – a role which, for the first time,<br />

has special responsibility for credit unions.<br />

“This conference comes at a very important<br />

time in our history,” he said. “Humankind is<br />

faced with our biggest challenge yet, which is to<br />

turn the tide on climate change.”<br />

He emphasised how sustainable finance will<br />

play a crucial role in the government’s plan for the<br />

transition to a greener economy, and highlighted<br />

how recent legislation is also supporting this.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>nsumer Protection (Regulation of Retail<br />

Credit and Credit Servicing Firms) Act <strong>2022</strong> was<br />

signed into law in April, and a new consumer<br />

credit bill, “which for the first time in Ireland will<br />

regulate all the money lenders,” is imminent.<br />

The minister<br />










also placed great<br />

emphasis on the<br />

need for cohesive<br />

branding and a<br />

single message<br />

for credit unions.<br />

“The competitors<br />

you face are not<br />

the credit union<br />

in the next town,<br />

they are the<br />

other financial<br />

services,” he<br />

said. “You<br />

have all these fantastic products, but they are<br />

not advertised nationally. There is too much<br />

fragmentation. The idea of marketing under one<br />

umbrella has to be a priority, because otherwise,<br />

the public will get confused.”<br />

The issue of branding was also explored<br />

by Finbarr O’Shea, of Bantry CU, who spoke<br />

about two initiatives being offered by groups<br />

of credit unions. Cultivate provides short to<br />

medium term loans built specifically for farmer<br />

members, while Greenify is a new green home<br />

improvement loan.<br />

Cultivate began as a collaboration of four<br />

credit unions in Galway in 2017 and now has<br />

47 Credit union members, with 150 offices in 23<br />

counties and combined assets of €6bn (£5.1bn).<br />

In 2021, Cultivate loans accounted for up to 25%<br />

q From left: Billy<br />

Doyle (Dundalk CU),<br />

Catherine Davenport<br />

(Capital CU),<br />

Josephine Maguire<br />

(SEAI) and David<br />

McDonnell (Naomh<br />

Breandán CU)<br />

32 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

of loans issued by some credit unions, with the<br />

average loan being just over €28,000 (£23,800).<br />

“Cultivate loans are so p<strong>op</strong>ular because it’s<br />

an identifiable finance brand that’s all about<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le, about local and about keeping it simple<br />

and straightforward,” said Mr O’Shea. “We’re<br />

reaching into territory where there isn’t a<br />

tradition of borrowing from credit unions, but<br />

we’re doing it simply, with a one-page fact sheet,<br />

not a 10 page booklet, which can absolutely be<br />

a barrier.”<br />

The conference also heard from those offering<br />

services to credit unions, including Seán<br />

Farrell of the Strategic Banking <strong>Co</strong>rporation of<br />

Ireland (SBCI) who spoke about the wholesale<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities for credit unions, and Andrea<br />

Reynolds, who left a career in KPMG to set up<br />

Swo<strong>op</strong>, a fintech company whose mission is<br />

to undertake “accounting triage” and make<br />

it easier for SMEs to transact with financial<br />

providers, including credit unions.<br />

“We realized how difficult and fragmented the<br />

entire market was and the assumptions that we<br />

as the financial services make about financial<br />

literacy levels of business,” said Ms Reynolds.<br />

“One of the biggest challenges for SMEs is access<br />

to finance – we wanted to get rid of that barrier.<br />

In the UK, SMEs emit a combined 120m tons of<br />

carbon – they are the silent army for change, we<br />

have to make [green lending] easy for them.”<br />

Joining the event from Scotland, Catherine<br />

Davenport of Capital Credit Union (CCU) spoke<br />

about how the question of sustainability went<br />

beyond the lending process to working practices.<br />

“We’re based in the city centre, which can be<br />

difficult and expensive for members to visit,”<br />

she said, adding that members can now engage<br />

through an app and online chat function, as well<br />

as by phone or in person, and staff have been<br />

offered flexible working <strong>op</strong>tions.<br />

Like others, CCU offers a green loan, which<br />

can be used for activities such as insulation,<br />

the purchasing of hybrid or electric vehicles,<br />

or boiler upgrades. For every green loan taken,<br />

a tree is donated to the CCU grove, part of an<br />

initiative aimed at re-wilding the highlands.<br />

But she admits there are challenges – including<br />

the current cost of living crisis. “We would love<br />

to encourage more green loans and plant more<br />

trees, but the impact of the cost of living is very<br />

real,” she said. “What’s more important? Today’s<br />

problems or those of tomorrow? It has to be both<br />

and we have to be strategic in the ways we help<br />

as many members as we can, both during the<br />

current crisis and for the future.”<br />

Delegates were also joined online from<br />

colleagues in North America, who shared<br />







striking examples of credit unions working<br />

for sustainability.<br />

“We have a strong history in this work – we’re<br />

long-time leaders in fighting climate change,”<br />

said Alison <strong>Co</strong>ates, climate consultant with<br />

Vancity Credit Union, in Vancouver, Canada.<br />

“We don’t lend to the oil sector at all and have<br />

strong guidelines that set limits as to who we do<br />

business with.” She described how 90% of the<br />

public expects financial institutions to act on<br />

social and economic issues; all five of Canada’s<br />

big banks have net-zero targets for 2050.<br />

In 2008, Vancity became the first financial<br />

institution in North America to achieve carbonneutral<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations; but it is now looking a<br />

step further, and investigating the emissions it<br />

contributes through its business activity.<br />

“Our financed emissions from our lending<br />

are currently over 36 times our <strong>op</strong>erational<br />

emissions,” said Ms <strong>Co</strong>ates. “So, we have set<br />

ourselves a target of making Vancity net zero by<br />

2040 across all our mortgages and loans, with<br />

our first targets set for 2025.”<br />

From the USA, Terri Mickelsen described how<br />

the Clean Energy Federal Credit Union is a new<br />

type of credit union, responding to a new need.<br />

“Our common bond is those who have a<br />

mission to increase the ad<strong>op</strong>tion of clean energy,<br />

those who care deeply about the environment or<br />

work for a clean energy field,” she said.<br />

It was started five years ago by a group of<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le who are “passionate about promoting<br />

clean energy to protect the environment and<br />

improve our economy” and at the time, was the<br />

sole online-only credit union. “We started with<br />

solar loans, and as we proved to the regulators<br />

that this is a good space to be in, we’ve added<br />

geothermal, home improvement, ebikes… Most<br />

of the things we do have been requested by<br />

our members.”<br />

She added: “Starting a credit union is hard.<br />

But the grassroots type of feel has served us<br />

well. We’ve done no marketing, but we’re up to<br />

almost 7,000 loans across 48 of the 50 states.<br />

We’re moving quickly, but we want controlled<br />

growth, We’ve been listening to members and<br />

contractors – that makes things a lot easier.”<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 33

<strong>Co</strong>ngress and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s Day<br />

Celebrations and centenaries of co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

<strong>June</strong> and July contain some key dates in<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> calendar, with celebrations<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>eration taking place in the UK<br />

and internationally – and some special<br />

anniversaries.<br />


(FRIDAY 17 - SATURDAY 18 JUNE)<br />

The <strong>2022</strong> UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress has the<br />

theme ‘Empowering <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration’, and<br />

aims to “bring together those working to<br />

build a fairer economy to share ideas, get<br />

inspiration and take action”. The event<br />

will take place in Birmingham on 17-18<br />

<strong>June</strong>, with some online elements.<br />

Speakers include the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s<br />

Interim CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq; Andy<br />

Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester;<br />

Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire;<br />

Andy Street – former boss of employeeowned<br />

John Lewis, now mayor of the West<br />

Midlands <strong>Co</strong>mbined Authority; Denise<br />

Scott-McDonald, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group; and Ian<br />

Adderley, FCA.<br />

p Denise Scott-McDonald, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

There will also be a worksh<strong>op</strong> on how<br />

technology can enable a more robust co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

economy and a session on the<br />

role of co-<strong>op</strong>s in creative industries. The<br />

<strong>2022</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress marks 100 years since the<br />

first female <strong>Co</strong>ngress chair (see facing);<br />

Liz McIvor from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Heritage<br />

Trust will lead a session looking at how<br />

women have played a central role through<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative history, from the first female<br />

member to the numerous achievements of<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Women’s Guild – leading<br />

to the influential positions held by women<br />

in today’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement.<br />

On Saturday evening, the <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

Supper, sponsored by Central England<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative, will showcase international<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration, from the work to support<br />

female workers in India, to empowering<br />

farmers in Malawi.<br />

Rose Marley, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK<br />

CEO, said: “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress is such an<br />

important event. It’s where the movement<br />

comes together to debate and negotiate;<br />

to inspire and aspire. It’s also about action<br />

and without action the movement cannot<br />

move!<br />

“We’ve so much subject matter packed<br />

into two dates: tech, social care; the<br />

democratic economy; community shares;<br />

music; the co-<strong>op</strong> marque alongside a<br />

wonderful range of speakers.<br />

“It’s also great that <strong>Co</strong>ngress is back<br />

as an in-person event - this year at the<br />

Eastside Rooms in Birmingham. So come<br />

along, get involved and help build the<br />

movement.”<br />



<strong>Co</strong>ngress is the kickstart to the UK’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Fortnight (Monday 20 <strong>June</strong> – 3 July <strong>2022</strong>)<br />

– two weeks of celebrating co-<strong>op</strong>s and the<br />

impact they make for members.<br />

Ahead of the event, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK has<br />

launched a campaign to promote why<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le love co-<strong>op</strong>s and to unwrap the<br />

mystery behind them.<br />

The #Unwrap<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s campaign is asking<br />

members of co-<strong>op</strong>s to say what difference<br />

being part of a co-<strong>op</strong> makes to their lives<br />

by sharing their stories at www.unwrap.<br />

co<strong>op</strong>, either in words or even as a voice<br />

recording. They also encourage co-<strong>op</strong>s to<br />

ask their own members, customers, and<br />

workers to contribute their stories.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK will be using these<br />

words to help devel<strong>op</strong> materials for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Fortnight by engaging a team of artists<br />

and designers to produce work based on<br />

what they receive.<br />



On the last Saturday of the fortnight, UK co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

will join co-<strong>op</strong>eratives around the world<br />

to celebrate the 100th International Day<br />

of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives. A decade on from the UN<br />

International Year of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, which<br />

showcased the unique contribution of co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

to making the world a better<br />

place, this year’s #<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>sDay slogan —<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Build a Better World— echoes<br />

the theme of the International Year.<br />

The aim of the day is to increase<br />

awareness of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and promote<br />

the movement’s ideas of international<br />

solidarity, economic efficiency, equality,<br />

and world peace. The International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA) has prepared<br />

an action pack filled with logos (in<br />

English, Spanish and French), social<br />

media digital resources and ideas to<br />

share stories, at co<strong>op</strong>sday.co<strong>op</strong><br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are the only enterprise<br />

model with globally agreed principles<br />

that rest on a foundation of shared ethical<br />

values,” said Bruno Roelants, director<br />

general of the ICA.<br />

34 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>ngress and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s Day<br />

A special <strong>Co</strong>ngress centenary<br />

By Ruth <strong>Co</strong>hen<br />

One hundred years ago, in 1922, something<br />

quite unheard of took place at the UK’s<br />

annual <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress. A banner<br />

headline in the then-weekly <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>News</strong> trumpeted, “<strong>Co</strong>ngress enthrones<br />

the woman with the basket”, explaining<br />

that this would be the “First <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

held under the Chairmanship of a Woman<br />

President”.<br />

For <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative leaders to have invited<br />

a woman to chair such a prestigious event<br />

was quite remarkable, when only five<br />

years earlier British women had still been<br />

denied even the right to vote.<br />

The pr<strong>op</strong>osed chair was to be Margaret<br />

Llewelyn Davies, the radical leader of<br />

the Women’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Guild who<br />

had recently retired after more than<br />

30 years. Margaret made a point of<br />

accepting the honour not for herself, but<br />

on behalf of “that host of women without<br />

whom she would have been nothing”.<br />

Although she was experienced and well<br />

known within the movement, the task<br />

of chairing a three-day meeting of over<br />

1,700 delegates, mostly men, could still<br />

have been daunting. But Margaret rose<br />

to the occasion: she pulled no punches<br />

and exerted her authority with aplomb,<br />

dealing firmly with the occasional<br />

“hubbub”, Indeed, a wry commentary in<br />

the <strong>News</strong> described her as “the best man<br />

of the conference!”<br />

This was a far cry from the <strong>op</strong>position<br />

the Women’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Guild had<br />

faced when it was first established in 1883.<br />

Back then, its first meetings provoked<br />

comments like “Let them sit at home!”<br />

‘Who’s to mind the children?’”. Most<br />

Guildswomen were home-based wives and<br />

mothers, and although theoretically there<br />

was gender equality, in practice men ran<br />

the movement at all levels – even though<br />

it was women who did the sh<strong>op</strong>ping at<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> stores. Some local co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

societies still did not allow male members’<br />

wives to join in their own right.<br />

Guildswomen struggled for equality<br />

for the next forty years, and more. With<br />

Margaret Llewelyn Davies at the helm, from<br />

the 1890s on the Guild devel<strong>op</strong>ed into a<br />

unique, forward-looking public voice for<br />

working-class women. As co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

historian G. D. H. <strong>Co</strong>le concluded, the<br />

Guild became a “powerful progressive<br />

force’” within co-<strong>op</strong>eration, campaigning<br />

determinedly for ethical trading, better<br />

wages for women, equal representation<br />

at all levels of the movement, and more.<br />

It also fought vociferously for vital social<br />

reforms, notably votes for women, divorce<br />

law reform and decent maternity provision.<br />

Not infrequently, this brought conflicts<br />

with the co-<strong>op</strong>erative leadership of the<br />

time. But with the enormous political and<br />

social changes during and after World War<br />

I, the movement was in a different position<br />

and there was a reconciliation, cemented<br />

by the unprecedented <strong>Co</strong>ngress invitation<br />

to Margaret Llewelyn Davies in 1922. As<br />

one woman declaimed, this was truly a<br />

“crowning glory” for co-<strong>op</strong>erative women.<br />

The Guild continued to expand<br />

between the wars, keeping up its<br />

work for co-<strong>op</strong>eration and its forwardlooking<br />

campaigning for social<br />

Margaret made a point of<br />

accepting the honour not<br />

for herself, but on behalf of<br />

“that host of women without<br />

whom she would have been<br />

nothing”<br />

reforms – including, controversially,<br />

the legalisation of abortion. It was<br />

outspoken in its pacifism, and initiated<br />

the widespread scheme of wearing white<br />

rather than red remembrance p<strong>op</strong>pies.<br />

However, from World War II onwards,<br />

massive social change led to major shifts<br />

in co-<strong>op</strong>eration and the Guild itself<br />

eventually closed in 2016.<br />

Nowadays, women can be found at all<br />

levels of the UK co-<strong>op</strong> movement, whether<br />

as chief executives of apex bodies or<br />

major retail societies, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party<br />

MPs, or as key figures in other parts of<br />

the movement. Looking back to 1922, we<br />

can see the 1922 <strong>Co</strong>ngress as a symbol<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>erative women’s past struggles<br />

and achievements, and a reminder of<br />

their vibrant history of campaigning for<br />

equality and social justice – a campaign<br />

that is still relevant today.<br />

Ruth <strong>Co</strong>hen’s biography: ‘Margaret<br />

Llewelyn Davies: with women for a new<br />

world’ was published in 2020 by Merlin<br />

Press<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 35

y Rebecca Harvey<br />



p Jessica<br />

Prendergrast, director<br />

and co-founder of<br />

Onion <strong>Co</strong>llective<br />

(credit Glyn Jarrett)<br />

The Playground for the New Economy is<br />

a festival with a difference, combining<br />

panels, worksh<strong>op</strong>s, <strong>op</strong>en spaces, virtual<br />

reality, sustainable food and live music that<br />

explores what a different type of economy<br />

could look like – and how we can get there.<br />

First held in 2019 in Frome, Somerset, the<br />

festival is organised by Stir to Action – a worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> “committed to creating a more democratic<br />

economy”. Focusing on infrastructure, business<br />

support, research and policy, and local<br />

government partnerships, it supports projects,<br />

provides training and publishes Stir magazine.<br />

The event went online for the 2020 lockdown,<br />

and in 2021 there was a small event at Stir’s<br />

residential campus at Selgars Mill in Devon –<br />

where it returns next month with an expanded<br />

capacity for 350 ticketholders.<br />

“We’ve always had this idea of an annual<br />

greenfield festival that would be atypical to<br />

conferences in the sector,” says Jonny Gordon-<br />

Farleigh, co-founder of Stir to Action. “We used<br />

the word ‘playground’ because it was this idea<br />

of playing and experimenting with political and<br />

economic ideas – using a three-day residential<br />

setting for pe<strong>op</strong>le to make connections and<br />

challenge ourselves as a sector. It’s about having<br />

big conversations in small rooms.”<br />

The term ‘new economy’ was used “because<br />

it can act as a bit of a catch-all for many<br />

different economic and social ideas”. But Jonny<br />

acknowledges that there can be a cultural<br />

assumption that ‘new’ economics is somehow<br />

better than ‘old’.<br />

“I think it’s more about looking at how the<br />

economy is changing, and how old ideas may or<br />

may not be suitable,” he says. “One thing we’re<br />

trying to do is reconnect to the past and rescue<br />

and recover what might be useful for pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

working in the democratic economy today.”<br />

The line-up includes representatives from<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, community businesses and social<br />

enterprises – plus book launches, a photography<br />

exhibition, punk aerobics, live music from the<br />

London Afrobeat <strong>Co</strong>llective and hip h<strong>op</strong> group<br />

Mouse Outfit, spoken word poetry from Isaiah<br />

Hull, a quiz and wood-fired sauna.<br />

36 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> practitioner Mark Simmonds will<br />

explore how new models can empower workers<br />

in the next generation of community businesses.<br />

Mark Walton from Shared Assets will chair a<br />

panel on the tension between investments in<br />

nature and the struggle for a more just land<br />

system. And Ella, Miss Divine, Rosina and<br />

Ruth – representatives from Bristol’s Black &<br />

Green Ambassadors Programme – will lead<br />

conversations on challenging perceptions,<br />

creating new <strong>op</strong>portunities and working towards<br />

ensuring the environmental movement is<br />

inclusive and representative of all communities.<br />

Another organisation at the festival is Onion<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llective, a 10-year-old social enterprise based<br />

in Watchet, Somerset.<br />

Set up by four women, including director<br />

Jessica Prendergrast, they began with a series<br />

of consultations and engagements in the town,<br />

exploring what it needed for a better future.<br />

Over the last decade, says Jessica, it “became an<br />

organisation that thinks much more about the<br />

wider systems change that’s going on, and what<br />

a different kind of economy could look like.”<br />

Like Jonny, Jessica is wary of the phrase ‘new<br />

economy’. “We often talk about a ‘next’ economy<br />

rather than a ‘new’ economy because some of<br />

this is already here,” she says, adding that there<br />

a disconnect between the perceived and actual<br />

motivations of those working with communities.<br />

“Sure, we need to make some money to pay<br />

our bills, but that’s not the reason most pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

in community sectors choose their work.<br />

“As a society we’ve separated our economic<br />

life out from all of these things that matter to us.<br />

But once you put them back together – as you<br />

see in co-<strong>op</strong>s, in social enterprises, in the public<br />

sector and charitable work – then you don’t<br />

behave in a way that is negative towards pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

“So in my version of how things would work,<br />

you would structure an economy around the<br />

things that pe<strong>op</strong>le actually care about, rather<br />

than structuring it to reflect the incentives of<br />

some pe<strong>op</strong>le at the t<strong>op</strong>. We’re clearly destroying<br />

the planet in the interests of very few pe<strong>op</strong>le;<br />

replacing that with a different economy seems to<br />

me to be a good idea.”<br />

Onion <strong>Co</strong>llective also addresses cultural<br />

justice. “Economic futures are determined by<br />

the place that you are in. In some areas you<br />

have extraordinary access to all kinds of cultural<br />

and creative activities; but if you’re in a rural<br />

peripheral area, you have very little access,” says<br />

Jessica. She believes access to culture is vital for<br />

building and connecting communities – and at<br />

the festival, h<strong>op</strong>es to share this view through a<br />

session on attachment economics.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid-19 has had a huge impact on the<br />

sector and Jessica is “really looking forward to<br />

being with a group of pe<strong>op</strong>le who have still got<br />

some faith and h<strong>op</strong>e and a sense of collective<br />

responsibility, but also, of collective possibility”.<br />

“One of the aims of the festival,” adds Jonny, “is<br />

to create a space outside the particular interests<br />

of any one organisation, which tends to happen<br />

with conferences. That diversity of having a local<br />

government representative next to a member of<br />

an unfunded community association, next to<br />

someone from a worker co-<strong>op</strong>, next to someone<br />

that might be a senior member of a business<br />

federation, that’s what we’re aiming for.”<br />

There will be a fallow year in 2023 (although<br />

an urban event is planned for 19-20 May at<br />

Stretford Public Hall, Manchester) and Stir to<br />

Action is looking for a new, larger site for 2024.<br />

They also keep the event accessible by working<br />

with the sponsors to give away free tickets –<br />

and also have a 25 tickets for £25 offer for those<br />

from marginalised communities, young adults<br />

(aged 18-35), disabled individuals (with free<br />

companion tickets available), and those living in<br />

areas of deprivation.<br />

Ticket and info: stirtoaction.com/festival<br />

p Onion <strong>Co</strong>llective<br />

in action: Watchet’s<br />

East Quay <strong>op</strong>ened in<br />

2021 as a place that<br />

represents what the<br />

next economy could<br />

look like in practice.<br />

‘It’s about purpose,<br />

connection and<br />

imagination’. (credit<br />

Jim Stephenson)<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 37

y Anca Voinea<br />



<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s in the live performance sector were hard<br />

hit by the pandemic. French co-<strong>op</strong> Ulysse Maison<br />

d’Artistes saw an 80% dr<strong>op</strong> in activity, with<br />

400 cancelled concerts. We speak to employee<br />

members and co-founders for an update...<br />


The co-<strong>op</strong>erative society of collective interest<br />

(SCIC) Ulysse Maison d’Artistes originated 15<br />

years ago, with a team of enthusiasts whose<br />

idea was to contribute to the encounter between<br />

artists and the public in Aveyron and Lot<br />

[departments in the Occitanie region of France]<br />

and to promote artistic projects at national level.<br />

From 2007 to 2012, the project grew, becoming<br />

more professional and structured, and a SARL<br />

[limited liability company], Ulysse Production,<br />

was created in October 2012.<br />

The company’s employees, accompanied by<br />

a team of very involved volunteers, decided to<br />

follow this up with the association La Chambre<br />

de Télémaque. Its focus is on bringing to life the<br />

Krill (a cultural café at the Théâtre de la Baleine<br />

in Onet-le-Château), the Chapelle (performance<br />

hall with 90 seats in Figeax) and organising<br />

shows and outdoor cultural activities.<br />

From 2012 to 2016, these two structures<br />

coexisted. Ulysse Productions worked in music<br />

while La Chambre de Télémaque participated in<br />

local cultural life. In 2016, they came together<br />

within the same entity, the SCIC Ulysse Maison<br />

d’Artistes. It was an incredible journey made<br />

possible by the total involvement of its pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

The SCIC is today the tool of a solid collective<br />

action at the service of artists, the public<br />

and territories. It exists through a team of<br />

enthusiasts who provide residents with the keys<br />

to emancipation and pleasure through culture.<br />

Five of us form an employee-member steering<br />

committee and the co-management assumes the<br />

strategic and <strong>op</strong>erational orientation – while<br />

relying on the advisory network of our members.<br />

The manager position is occupied in turn by<br />

the various member employees. Our role in the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative is more defined by our job and what<br />

we do there than by our social or legal mandate.<br />

u Ulysse members<br />

and volunteers<br />

©Richard Storchi<br />

38 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>


This was the most suitable form for our project.<br />

We had already been working for several years<br />

on an equivalent model through co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and democratic functioning among employees<br />

and by integrating the beneficiaries of the project<br />

from the start (artists, technicians, partners) even<br />

before the change in structure to a co-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

Our values ​include a relationship with the<br />

economy that does not consider money as an end<br />

but as a fuel necessary for the construction of the<br />

project and a model of democratic governance.<br />

Ulysse Maison d’Artistes has been structured<br />

in the search for a permanent balance between<br />

individual interests and the collective interest.<br />



The model is co-<strong>op</strong>erative and well balanced,<br />

integrating the entrepreneurial dimension<br />

of a project and bringing the values ​closer<br />

to associative models. This allows us to <strong>op</strong>t<br />

for a non-profit structure, with all the profits<br />

reinvested into the business to ensure the<br />

sustainability of our projects. It also means we<br />

can seat all the stakeholders around the table.<br />

The disadvantage is that this model is still too<br />

little known to the public and requires a lot of<br />

education with our interlocutors. This model<br />

does not necessarily correspond to [the needs of]<br />

all employees because some need to evolve in a<br />

very vertical hierarchy, which is not advocated<br />

by the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model.<br />



We have 88 members divided into seven<br />

categories – employees, artists and technicians,<br />

partners, founders, volunteers, audience and<br />

local authorities. In a SCIC, the employees<br />

occupy a central place and are surrounded by<br />

the other members.<br />




It is a big job of administrative structuring. It<br />

is also a question of finding the right balance<br />

between living well and working well, and a<br />

good definition of the relationship between the<br />

team of employees and the rest of the members.<br />

Our advice would be to get good support<br />

and not to believe that the legal form rules<br />

everything. The co-<strong>op</strong> is a legal framework, but<br />

it is the humans who make it up that make it<br />

live. What is important is the substance and the<br />

construction of the project.<br />








PROJECT”<br />



We were supported in the creation of the co<strong>op</strong><br />

by our regional union of SCOPs (worker co<strong>op</strong>s).<br />

When we created it, the Union régionale<br />

des Sc<strong>op</strong> (URSCOP) was not yet aware of all the<br />

specificities of the world of culture and had not<br />

yet devel<strong>op</strong>ed specific services for SCICs and we<br />

sometimes found ourselves alone in the process.<br />



Ulysse devel<strong>op</strong>s, researches, and endeavours to<br />

produce and to represent its artists. It acts as a<br />

manager, a producer and a tourer, but always<br />

with the same fierce desire to create a unique link<br />

between the public and the artists. In 15 years,<br />

Ulysse has devel<strong>op</strong>ed several skills and today<br />

provides various services – organising events;<br />

producing shows, tours and albums; supporting<br />

and managing artists; producing video clips<br />

and films; setting up cultural activities; and<br />

communications and PR.<br />


It was for us the feeling of an earthquake, a<br />

tsunami and a hurricane at the same time – 400<br />

cancelled concerts and constant uncertainty. We<br />

had a loss of connection with the public, which<br />

was difficult to reweave in the context. The DNA<br />

of our project is to gather the public around our<br />

artists, which is precisely what was impossible<br />

for us in 2020-2021. We are still in troubled times.<br />

p Ulysse members<br />

performing at<br />

Charabia Festival<br />

©Ben Pi<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 39

y Rebecca Harvey<br />



q Hotel du Nord (t<strong>op</strong>),<br />

Jemima D (centre) and<br />

Nearly Wild Camping<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

As lockdown lifts and plans are being<br />

made for the summer, here are some of<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative holiday <strong>op</strong>tions for you to<br />

explore…<br />

n Hotel du Nord is a residents’ co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

that <strong>op</strong>ened January 2011 to bring cultural<br />

heritage and hospitality together in Marseilles. It<br />

is a network of 30-40 rooms or urban lodgings<br />

in apartments, country houses, boats or small<br />

houses, reflecting the diversity of the region. But<br />

it is also a community of attentive hosts wishing<br />

to share their environment and the stories of<br />

their neighbourhoods and their places. There<br />

are organised solidarity visits and heritage<br />

walks, and you can be introduced to local<br />

food and culture rooted in local traditions and<br />

rediscovered by communities.<br />

u hoteldunord.coo<br />

p<br />

n Jemima D is a 37-foot narrowboat moored<br />

in rural Staffordshire, that is owned, <strong>op</strong>erated<br />

and used by a friendly co-<strong>op</strong>erative group of<br />

12 shareholders, whose aims and objectives<br />

are to own and use the boat co-<strong>op</strong>eratively for<br />

members to have non-sexist, non-racist, nonageist,,<br />

enjoyable holidays on the canals. They<br />

share tasks to ensure that Jemima D is run as<br />

economically as possible and everyone gets<br />

a chance to learn how to maintain and run a<br />

narrowboat. It also means that everyone has<br />

an equal responsibility for running the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

and maintaining Jemima, within the limits of<br />

their skills, ability and circumstances – and<br />

they are currently looking for new members!<br />

u Jemima-d.org.uk<br />

n The Nearly Wild Camping <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

is a network of diverse locations (mostly<br />

across the UK) offering Nearly Wild Camping<br />

experiences at 200+ camping locations. These<br />

can be family farms, nature reserves, hillt<strong>op</strong><br />

smallholdings or riverside woods – many of<br />

which are not otherwise <strong>op</strong>en to the public. If<br />

you own a potential location you can also take<br />

out membership and list your location in the<br />

directory. They offer the chance to explore where<br />

you are through guided walks, star gazing,<br />

badger watching, having a go at some regular<br />

onsite tasks (from feeding the chickens to<br />

carving a spoon), cooking up some homegrown<br />

veg on your campfire and more.<br />

u nearlywildcamping.org/<br />

40 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

n The Renmark Hotel <strong>op</strong>ened in South<br />

Australia in 1897 as the first British Empire<br />

community-owned hotel. Nestled on the banks of<br />

the River Murray, today it is <strong>op</strong>erated by a board<br />

of management which is elected by community<br />

members. It returns its profits to the community<br />

by way of donations and sponsorships and<br />

strives to preserve its Art Deco architecture and<br />

heritage listing (it has its own museum on the<br />

first floor).<br />

u renmarkhotel.com.au<br />

q The Renmark Hotel<br />

(t<strong>op</strong>), Fairbnb.co<strong>op</strong><br />

(centre) and The Sail<br />

Boat <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

n Fairbnb.co<strong>op</strong> started its journey in 2016<br />

as a movement inspired by Fairtrade, the<br />

circular economy and the Sustainable<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals that sought to “create<br />

a just alternative to existing home-sharing<br />

platforms”. Initially the movement emerged in<br />

Venice, Amsterdam and Bologna but soon other<br />

groups from all over Eur<strong>op</strong>e joined the debate.<br />

It launched a new platform in 2021, and today<br />

aims to promote a more sustainable, genuine<br />

and authentic tourism. Half of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s<br />

fees are given to community projects in the host<br />

area with the goal to redistribute wealth and<br />

create jobs, and hosts are screened according to<br />

destination specific rules – such as the one host,<br />

one house rule.<br />

u Fairbnb.co<strong>op</strong><br />

n The Sail Boat <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative is based in<br />

Chichester Harbour, and provides a range<br />

of learning activities based around sailing –<br />

including sailing courses and trips on its three<br />

sail training vessels. It aims to “widen access<br />

to the sea” by offering sail training onboard,<br />

navigation training on land, and using these<br />

activities to increase confidence and a sense of<br />

wellbeing in marginalised coastal communities.<br />

It raises funds to be able to offer training<br />

bursaries to pe<strong>op</strong>le on very low incomes or<br />

from marginalised communities through its<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Sailing Fund. The co-<strong>op</strong> sees sailing<br />

as “a tool to improve life skills, knowledge<br />

and attitudes” and also offers a flexible<br />

approach to meet different learning needs. Its<br />

board of directors made up of staff, skippers<br />

and volunteers to steer its work and actively<br />

encourage participation from anyone involved<br />

in the project.<br />

u sailboatproject.org<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 41

y Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />




p (Photo: Hiawatha<br />

Music <strong>Co</strong>-Op)<br />

This year a co-<strong>op</strong> presence will be felt at<br />

festivals in the UK and abroad, bringing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration to a mass, and often muddy,<br />

audience as well as providing <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

for the movement celebrate together.<br />

This summer the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group will run p<strong>op</strong>up<br />

stores in nine UK music festivals including<br />

Leeds, Reading and Glastonbury. It will even<br />

provide a click and collect service at selected<br />

festivals, where punters can order groceries up<br />

to six weeks in advance.<br />

Last year, when many festivals were forced<br />

to delay for the second year in a row, the Group<br />

announced a partnership with Kendal Calling to<br />

show its commitment to the live music industry<br />

during “tough times”. Amanda Jennings, director<br />

of marketing live and local at the Group, said at<br />

the time that the co-<strong>op</strong>’s festival stores aren’t<br />

“just about building and running a store in a field<br />

for the weekend, but about serving a specific<br />

community’s needs while also highlighting how<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> does businesses differently”.<br />

Another retail society getting in on the festival<br />

act is Radstock, which is sponsoring a stage at a<br />

free local arts festival this month.<br />

The family-friendly event includes live<br />

performances, stalls, food and worksh<strong>op</strong>s, to<br />

bring the community together and celebrate<br />

the jubilee. Radstock’s community stage will<br />

showcase local performers, and the society will<br />

feed the crew and volunteers on the day.<br />

Morwhenna Woolcock from event organisers<br />

Creativity Works says local festivals like this<br />

offer a “very accessible artform – it is free, and<br />

is performed in and around where pe<strong>op</strong>le live –<br />

you don’t have to go to a special venue or place.<br />

Festivals also help bring pe<strong>op</strong>le and communities<br />

together, different ages and different pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

enjoying the same experience.”<br />

She adds: “It’s really important that local<br />

businesses support their community in many<br />

ways including sponsoring community events<br />

– it helps integrate businesses into the local<br />

community and give back to their customers and<br />

help build trust in a local brand/business.”<br />

42 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

Nikki D’Ovidio from Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> says:<br />

“Festivals and cultural events play an extremely<br />

important role in bringing the local community<br />

together. They are also a great <strong>op</strong>portunity to<br />

<strong>op</strong>en the local community up to new things –<br />

learning a new skill, building community spirit<br />

and reinforcing the identity of a town.”<br />

Globally, a number of festivals have ad<strong>op</strong>ted<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> model themselves. Knockengorroch<br />

festival, in the Scottish mountains of Galloway,<br />

is run by a community interest company to<br />

promote multi-culturalism through world music,<br />

support new Scottish performers, devel<strong>op</strong> public<br />

awareness of the country’s Upland heritage and<br />

spur local regeneration. Their annual World<br />

Ceilidh has been running since 1998 and now<br />

attracts around 3,000 guests a year.<br />

And across the pond in Marquette, Michigan,<br />

the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival is on<br />

a similar mission, to promote traditional local<br />

music and dance, such as bluegrass, Cajun,<br />

Celtic and acoustic blues. Around 4,000 guests,<br />

including many of the co-<strong>op</strong>’s 300 members,<br />

attend each year in July.<br />

Executive director Susan Divine says the<br />

founders of the festival, now in its 42nd year, felt<br />

it important that the organisation be a member<br />

focused, non-profit business.<br />

Hiawatha Music <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s members pay an<br />

annual subscription to support the festival and<br />

get involved in running of the co-<strong>op</strong>. Members<br />

receive discounts on tickets and many volunteer<br />

time to the organisation, which runs with just<br />

one paid member of staff.<br />

Through the co-<strong>op</strong> structure, Hiawatha offers<br />

something more to its community and members,<br />

says Ms Divine. “Because our mission has to do<br />

with music, that in itself speaks to a lot of pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

who like to belong to organisations such as<br />

ours and who value being a member and value<br />

volunteering.” Ms Divine adds that members<br />

feel a sense of partnership with the organisation<br />

through their subscription and volunteering,<br />

describing it as a “reciprocal relationship”.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> movement also has a history of<br />

running festivals to celebrate its own identity.<br />

Recent notable examples include <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

United World Festival and ICA Expo, which<br />

gathered 12,605 co<strong>op</strong>erators from 88 countries in<br />

Manchester, UK to mark the International Year of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives in 2012.<br />

In the US, the National <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Business<br />

Association (NCBA CLUSA) launched its <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Festival in Washington, DC in 2017, and South<br />

American news co-<strong>op</strong> Mundo <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> has been<br />

running its Festival Federal Cultura <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa<br />

in Argentina for the past decade.<br />

But perhaps the earliest examples of co-<strong>op</strong><br />

festivals were those held at London’s Crystal<br />

Palace between 1888 and 1910. The National<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Festival drew tens of thousands<br />

of attendees from across the country for talks,<br />

exhibitions, flower shows, sports and music.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators have long known the power of<br />

cultural gatherings across the movement. As<br />

Flora Klickmann, an eyewitness to those 19th<br />

century events, wrote in Windsor Magazine in<br />

1897: “To watch the varied scenes and endless<br />

interests at the Crystal Palace on these festival<br />

days might confirm the foreigner in his ideas<br />

that we are a ‘nation of sh<strong>op</strong>keepers,’ but should<br />

also remind him, so far as the co-<strong>op</strong>erator is<br />

concerned, of the words of Mr W. S. Gilbert: ‘His<br />

capacity for innocent enjoyment is just as great<br />

as any other man’s’.”<br />

q Mr Burns,<br />

Treemendous and The<br />

Iguanodon Restaurant<br />

(credit: James Price)<br />

are some of the acts<br />

performing at the<br />

Radstock Arts Festival<br />





JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 43

y Miles Hadfield<br />




p Bury AFC owns<br />

the club – but faces a<br />

decision over its old<br />

home at Gigg Lane<br />

The supporter-owned football movement<br />

has added another name to its ranks after<br />

the Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society<br />

bought Bury AFC out its administration.<br />

Helped by a £1m grant from the government’s<br />

Levelling Up fund, the community benefit<br />

society has bought the intellectual pr<strong>op</strong>erty,<br />

history and memorabilia of Bury Football Club.<br />

Another organisation, the Bury Football Club<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mpany Ltd, owns the stadium at Gigg Lane,<br />

but the team is back playing on its home turf and<br />

the two parties have signed a memorandum of<br />

understanding to find a way forward.<br />

The club – established in 1895 – is one of<br />

the oldest in the country. When it was expelled<br />

from the English Football League in 2019, after<br />

running into trouble with its debts and failing to<br />

secure a buyer, fans set out to rescue it, forming<br />

Bury AFC as a community benefit society.<br />

Phil Young, chair of the society, says the<br />

community benefit model was recommended<br />

to them by the FA. Although getting Financial<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nduct Authority (FCA) authorisation was “a<br />

bit of a faff”, it was much simpler than the “12<br />

months of red tape” needed to set up a plc.<br />

Furthermore, “it felt right that this was a<br />

democratic way of running the business going<br />

forward, on a one member one vote basis. It puts<br />

control firmly in the hands of supporters that<br />

have an interest in football.”<br />

But there were still some hurdles to jump –<br />

firstly, bringing in some revenue and setting up<br />

a bank account. “There are a limited number<br />

of banks that understand the community<br />

benefit society,” says Mr Young, adding that the<br />

44 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

team eventually <strong>op</strong>ted for Unity Trust, whose<br />

knowledge of the model made conversion from<br />

a limited company a simple one.<br />

The society also had essential support from the<br />

Football Supporters Association – formed from<br />

a merger of the Football Supporters’ Federation<br />

and Supporters Direct, which provided them<br />

with templates for the community benefit society<br />

model for football.<br />

“The club probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t<br />

for them, there was just too much to do on our<br />

own starting from absolute scratch. They gave us<br />

a lot support along the way.”<br />

Other supporter owned clubs – especially<br />

Chester, Wimbledon and FC United of<br />

Manchester – have been helpful. “I can’t think<br />

of a single question where pe<strong>op</strong>le haven’t<br />

come forward to give us an answer, whether<br />

it’s running the mutual society side of things,<br />

or technical details around taxation issues or<br />

fundraising and capital raises or even just down<br />

to the football club side of things.”<br />

The supporter-owned model offers a useful<br />

way to get the game back to its roots, says Mr<br />

Young – especially “done right, with as much<br />

engagement as possible”. Bury takes this right<br />

down to the design of bobble hat for the club.<br />

“It works well from a commercial perspective,<br />

because by asking supporters to vote for and to<br />

provide input into things that they buy, you get a<br />

better result off the back of it.”<br />

The same goes for the home and away kits,<br />

put to a member vote on an alternating two-year<br />

cycle. “We sell a lot more that way, which stands<br />

to reason because we already know it’s p<strong>op</strong>ular.”<br />

Mr Young says he is looking forward to the<br />

outcome of the review of football, led by Tracey<br />

Crouch MP, which was announced in response to<br />

the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean super league fiasco.<br />

“Whether it comes through in the final wash is<br />

another question, but she’s recommended that<br />

certain key assets – like the name of the club,<br />

the badge, those sorts of intellectual pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

that everybody thinks should belong to the fans<br />

– get placed into a community benefit society for<br />

every club to keep it separate.”<br />

This would put a statutory asset lock on this<br />

intellectual pr<strong>op</strong>erty to save it from being asset<br />

stripped by a club owner – meaning there is a<br />

use for a mutual society in any club.<br />

The next issue facing Bury is a massive one<br />

– the question of what do about its historic<br />

home in Gigg Lane, and whether or not to<br />

merge with its owner. “That would take us out<br />

of 100% ownership but there’s no two ways<br />

about it, if we do, the agreement would be that<br />








were are still majority fan-owned and run.”<br />

But there is a lot of legwork to do, with<br />

members wanting to see a viable business plan,<br />

with questions lingering around the desirability<br />

of merging into shared ownership, and whether<br />

or not the stadium is too big for the club’s needs.<br />

“We’re working through it,” says Mr Young,<br />

who understands the reservations but notes that<br />

“the prize is going back to the old stadium”.<br />

“We need to give pe<strong>op</strong>le enough information<br />

so that they feel they’re making an informed<br />

decision off the back of it – whatever that<br />

decision is. It’s a very big thing and we’ve got<br />

emotions on both sides.”<br />

Allowing pe<strong>op</strong>le to make these decisions is a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> virtue. “I think there’s pe<strong>op</strong>le that gasp<br />

at the idea of giving over 1,000 members the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to make a decision like this,” says<br />

Mr Young. “But you remind pe<strong>op</strong>le on a regular<br />

basis that that’s how you decided who runs the<br />

whole of the UK.”<br />

He adds: “So far, voting has been incredibly<br />

rational, by diversifying the number of pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

that are voting on a particular t<strong>op</strong>ic, rather than<br />

it being concentrated in the hands of one or a<br />

small number of pe<strong>op</strong>le.”<br />

For those who doubt the virtues of fan<br />

ownership, he says: “Look what happened to<br />

the old club – it went bust with tens of millions<br />

of pounds worth of debt.”<br />

p (Credit: Getty<br />

Images/Visionhaus)<br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 45




current president of the ICA who is<br />

standing for re-election, nominated<br />

by <strong>Co</strong>nfederación <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa de<br />

la República Argentina (<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erar),<br />

Argentina<br />


I saw from a very early age that the life of my region moved<br />

around co-<strong>op</strong>s. My mother devel<strong>op</strong>ed her entire personal<br />

and professional life in the Electric <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative of <strong>Co</strong>ronel<br />

Pringles, that provides electricity and multiple services to the<br />

community. As a child I also knew the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa Obrera, a<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong> where my parents used to buy everything and<br />

of which I am still a member. As a co-<strong>op</strong> member and leader<br />

of several entities, I have been able to verify the effectiveness<br />

and value of this model throughout the whole world.<br />


At the end of the 80s I started to actively participate in the<br />

electric co-<strong>op</strong>erative of my city. In 1997 I was elected president<br />

and promoted the strengthening of the federation (Fedecoba)<br />

that integrates electric co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in the province of Buenos<br />

Aires. In 1998, I was elected president of the federation and<br />

became its representative in <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erar, where my colleagues<br />

elected me to lead it in 2011. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erar is the Argentine apex<br />

and from there I started my participation in the ICA.<br />



I was elected to the board of the ICA in 2013. In 2017, members<br />

elected us to chair the ICA; in these four years I have lived<br />

what co-<strong>op</strong>s mean for millions of pe<strong>op</strong>le around the world<br />

and the value of our movement and the ICA, which is our<br />

common house, for international organisations and other<br />

relevant actors.<br />



We are going to continue working on the letter of our identity,<br />

debating and reaching agreements that will allow us to<br />

document everything that we understand represents us as an<br />

economic and social model at the service of the communities.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Identity is the lighthouse that guides our<br />

day-to-day work with members, communities, governments<br />

and other actors of society with whom we have to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

alliances to build a fairer, more inclusive and peaceful world.<br />



We will deepen the economic, cultural and institutional<br />

integration of the diversity of sectors and regions, which we<br />

are translating into changes in ICA governance. We are going<br />

to consolidate instruments such as ICETT and the World<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Monitor. And we will take advantage of the recent<br />

signing of the International Social and Solidarity Economy<br />

<strong>Co</strong>alition, which helps us to consolidate ties with public and<br />

private actors committed to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model.<br />



We must continue to move forward with pr<strong>op</strong>osals that<br />

reflect in the ICA’s own structure and governance the natural<br />

capacity for inter-co-<strong>op</strong>eration that our organisations have.<br />

With an ICA based on the contribution of each of its members,<br />

we will move steadily towards that goal.<br />



I believe we must continue to carry forward together the<br />

transformations we have been undertaking in terms of<br />

governance, closeness to our members, deepening our<br />

identity and advocacy. This implies continuing with some<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osals that we have already discussed with the current<br />

board and that we will surely be able to ratify during our<br />

assembly in Seville and put into practice with those who are<br />

elected to join the board.<br />

46 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, and Quebec, and at ICMIF’s<br />

Biennial <strong>Co</strong>nferences. Recently I was invited to speak at the<br />

Graduate Institute of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Leadership meeting in<br />

San Diego and at the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s NZ Leaders’ Forum in Auckland.<br />




nominated by Business <strong>Co</strong>uncil of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals, Australia<br />


I was drawn to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement through my work<br />

in communications, learning about the power of co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

through the stories I wrote for co-<strong>op</strong> publications including the<br />

ICA Digest. This became a passion for increasing awareness<br />

through my advocacy roles such as executive director for the<br />

International Year of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives in Australia in 2012. Ever<br />

since I learned about the movement, I have wanted to share<br />

this ‘best kept secret’ with others.<br />


As the chief executive of the apex body for co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

mutuals in Australia, the Business <strong>Co</strong>uncil for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and Mutuals, I am privileged to work with co-<strong>op</strong>s in different<br />

industries from agriculture to banking and insurance,<br />

housing, healthcare, retail, motoring, and fisheries. My<br />

organisation has almost one hundred co-<strong>op</strong> members which<br />

I work with directly. I am involved with co-<strong>op</strong>eratives from<br />

across the globe learning from the leaders in other countries.<br />



By its nature, working in the co-<strong>op</strong> movement is an<br />

international endeavour. I am fortunate to work with<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s all over the world, including across Asia-Pacific. In<br />

Australia we have always sought to draw from co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

best practice around the world. I have worked for the ICA<br />

meeting co-<strong>op</strong>erators from all over the world, and visiting<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in Sweden, France, Switzerland, Italy, UK, and<br />

USA. I have spoken at ICA General Assemblies in Singapore,<br />

I am co-vice chair of the ICA <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Identity Advisory<br />

Group (CIAG) working with colleagues from across the<br />

world who are passionate about the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Identity<br />

and how we can promote it. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives continue<br />

to be disadvantaged by their lack of visibility right at<br />

the time when they should be the preferred way to do<br />

business. I would start by insisting on clear and consistent<br />

communication about the influence and reach of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and their power to do good.<br />



Increasing the number, size and reach of co-<strong>op</strong>s will be at the<br />

heart of what I would do. We must compete successfully. We<br />

need to grow co-<strong>op</strong>s, grow the Alliance, and grow awareness of<br />

our way of doing business. In Australia, I have demonstrated<br />

I can achieve this by ensuring co-<strong>op</strong>s have better access to<br />

capital and a more favourable policy environment. I have<br />

grown the number of BCCM members ten-fold.<br />



The ICA needs to change radically and rapidly to meet the<br />

pressures their members face and needs energetic leadership.<br />

We should be at the t<strong>op</strong> table in global conversations<br />

with governments, <strong>op</strong>inion formers and international<br />

organisations, demonstrating clearly what co-<strong>op</strong>eratives can<br />

do and why they should be treated the same as any other<br />

type of business. The ICA needs to communicate better and<br />

promote co-<strong>op</strong>eratives effectively and consistently in all parts<br />

of the world.<br />



Building on the strength of the regions and sectoral bodies<br />

of the ICA, my plan is to foster deeper engagement between<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. A strong communication strategy will<br />

encourage greater co-<strong>op</strong>eration built on understanding more<br />

about our movement.<br />





ICAELECTIONS<strong>2022</strong> >>>>><br />

JUNE <strong>2022</strong> | 47

intergovernmental meetings to promote the place of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, including the launch of the international year<br />

at the UN, the Addis Ababa conference on devel<strong>op</strong>ment,<br />

and G20 summits.<br />




current vice-president of the ICA,<br />

nominated by <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Fr, France<br />


I was a civil servant at the Ministry of Finance; in 1993, I<br />

was secretary general of the Groupement des Mutuelles<br />

d’Assurances. In this capacity, I was involved in the<br />

construction of the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative and Mutual<br />

Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and the relaunch of the<br />

ICA which was in a critical situation. Since that time I have<br />

constantly engaged in the defence and promotion of co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in my country and in the world.<br />


After managing mutuals, for 16 years I was manager of the<br />

benchmark bank for players in the social and solidarity<br />

economy in our country. I am the president of our national<br />

[co-<strong>op</strong>] federation (<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>FR). I created the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> des <strong>Co</strong>mmuns,<br />

a structure to bring together the world of the commons and<br />

that of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. I am also a co-founder of the Global<br />

Innovation <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Summit (GICS) to promote international<br />

meetings between co-<strong>op</strong>erators of all ages to reconcile co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and modernity.<br />



I have a long experience in the sector: I was president of<br />

ICMIF, then president of the International Association<br />

of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Banks. I was president of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e, and finally, I am a member of the ICA board<br />

with different positions: vice-president, and president<br />

of the Principles <strong>Co</strong>mmittee. I have participated in many<br />

of the ICA conferences and international summits and<br />

By helping ‘real’ co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to fight on equal terms against<br />

‘false’ ones. Structures use the co-<strong>op</strong>erative name without<br />

being one. It is necessary to use means such as labels or<br />

certifications so that the public perceives the concordance<br />

between the label and the content. We will need all co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

leaders to lead this collective action. This does not,<br />

however, prevent us from reflecting on the ways of expressing<br />

our co-<strong>op</strong>erative values and principles today in order to adapt<br />

to changes in the world.<br />



From experience, I know it is necessary to gather human<br />

and financial resources. I would contribute work with the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission to obtain a second multi-annual<br />

partnership of several million euros, and would increase<br />

our capacity for action with intergovernmental devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

<strong>op</strong>erators, such as the World Bank. In these institutions,<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are no longer in the front line as a tool for<br />

social progress and ecological transition. I will also put my<br />

experience as a banker to mobilise financial resources.<br />



<strong>Co</strong>ncrete actions are worth more than fine words. First of all,<br />

by reinforcing a better knowledge of the co-<strong>op</strong>erators among<br />

themselves. Hence the desire to recreate the equivalent at the<br />

Quebec International Summit of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives with the GICS.<br />



First of all, it will be necessary to carry out the mandate of<br />

the General Assembly of Kuala Lumpur on the revision of the<br />

ICA. I want to give the floor back to the members to ensure<br />

that “unity is strength”. The concrete project that I would<br />

like to see carried out in the field of education would be an<br />

international training of leaders, in particular the younger<br />

generations, to ensure transmission. I dream of a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

INSEAD [a leading graduate business school].<br />



BOOK, VISIT SEVILLE<strong>2022</strong>.COM<br />

48 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

event – taking place in<br />

person, online, or as a<br />

hybrid – to be featured?<br />

Tell us at:<br />

events@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

17-18 <strong>June</strong> (Birmingham, UK)<br />

Under the theme ‘Empowering<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration’, <strong>Co</strong>ngress aims to bring<br />

together those working to build a fairer<br />

economy to share ideas, get inspiration<br />

and take action.<br />

s.co<strong>op</strong>/2zybp<br />

UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Fortnight<br />

20 <strong>June</strong> - 3 July<br />

Two weeks of co-<strong>op</strong>s of all shapes and<br />

sizes coming together to show the power<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>eration.<br />

s.co<strong>op</strong>/2zycc<br />

ICA General Assembly and event<br />

19-22 <strong>June</strong> (Seville, Spain)<br />

Hosted by the Spanish <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of<br />

Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives in Seville, the event<br />

will include worksh<strong>op</strong>s, a gala dinner,<br />

tours, and the ICA General Assembly.<br />

bit.ly/3IhUvqu<br />

Rochdale Pioneers Museum Focus Group<br />

22 <strong>June</strong> (via Zoom)<br />

The museum is looking for guidance<br />

on how more pe<strong>op</strong>le can be involved<br />

in selecting objects for display, and<br />

exploring its collections, and wants input<br />

from its users around the world.<br />

email museum@heritagetrust.co<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Solutions – Fuel Poverty<br />

30 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> (Online)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives East Midlands & <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

West Midlands host this online<br />

event 9.30am, following the AGM of CEM.<br />

jdevilliers@btinternet.com<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

2 July<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives events<br />

2 July (Hebden Bridge, UK)<br />

10.45am: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative heritage walk led<br />

by co-<strong>op</strong> historian Andrew Bibby. Free.<br />

Meet foyer of Hebden Bridge Town Hall.<br />

1.30pm-4.30pm <strong>Co</strong>nference: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

work! Another economy is possible, plus<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s and stalls, at the Waterfront<br />

Hall, Hebden Bridge Town Hall. Free, with<br />

pre-booking advisable<br />

7.30pm <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration <strong>Co</strong>ncert with the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmoners’ Choir. Trades Club, £9/£6.<br />

Day’s events organised by Calderdale <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association.<br />

calderco<strong>op</strong>s@gmail.com<br />

Playground for the New Economy<br />

12-14 July (Devon)<br />

Stir to Action’s Playground for the New<br />

Economy Festival is returning to its<br />

residential campus at Selgars Mill in Mid<br />

Devon for three days of panels, worksh<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

<strong>op</strong>en space, virtual reality experiences,<br />

sustainable food, and live music.<br />

stirtoaction.com/festival<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press AGM<br />

25 July, 6pm (Online)<br />

The annual meeting of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press,<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> which publishes <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>.<br />

thenews.co<strong>op</strong>/AGM<strong>2022</strong><br />

UKSCS Annual <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

26-28 August (Lincoln)<br />

The first in-person UK Society for<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Studies conference since<br />

2019 will take place at Lincoln University<br />

and explore the theme: <strong>Co</strong>nsumer co<strong>op</strong>eratives:<br />

past, present and future.<br />

bit.ly/3EU3ahM<br />

World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

17-20 July (Glasgow)<br />

The World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit Unions will cohost<br />

its conference with the Association of<br />

British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL).<br />

wcuc.org<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

8-9 October (Leeds)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party’s showcase and the<br />

largest political online gathering of the<br />

year for the UK co‐<strong>op</strong>erative movement.<br />

party.co<strong>op</strong>/event/annconf022<br />

ICMIF Centenary <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

25-28 October <strong>2022</strong> (Rome)<br />

The ICMIF Centenary <strong>Co</strong>nference will be<br />

hosted by the Unipol Group, an ICMIF’s<br />

founding member, in Rome, where the<br />

organisation was formed.<br />

icmif.org/icmif-conference/<br />

50 | JUNE <strong>2022</strong>

17–18 <strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

The Eastside Rooms<br />

Woodcock Street<br />

Birmingham B7 4BL<br />

Book your places now at<br />

www.uk.co<strong>op</strong>/congress<br />


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