Co-op News August 2022

The August edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at how co-ops can help – and engage with – youth to ensure a better world for future generations, including a look at the National Youth Summit, organised by Co-operatives UK to follow up its report on challenges facing young people in Britain. We also hear from the Co-op Foundation and Woodcraft Folk about how they are supporting young people. Plus coverage of some key events in the co-op calendar – the Playground for the New Economy Festival, organised by Stir to Action, and the World Credit Union Conference.

The August edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at how co-ops can help – and engage with – youth to ensure a better world for future generations, including a look at the National Youth Summit, organised by Co-operatives UK to follow up its report on challenges facing young people in Britain. We also hear from the Co-op Foundation and Woodcraft Folk about how they are supporting young people. Plus coverage of some key events in the co-op calendar – the Playground for the New Economy Festival, organised by Stir to Action, and the World Credit Union Conference.


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AUGUST <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Reports from the<br />

World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

and Playground for the New<br />

Economy Festival ... the Future<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Banking ...<br />

Interview with Woodcraft<br />

Folk’s Debs McCahon<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 />

Please note that the <strong>2022</strong> <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> AGM, originally scheduled for 6-7.30pm on<br />

Monday 25 July has been postponed and will now take place on<br />

Monday 22 <strong>August</strong> at 7-8.30pm.<br />

This is due to covid-related delays to our auditing process, and the passing away<br />

of our of our Treasurer.<br />

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

and made available online on Monday 8 <strong>August</strong><br />

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The UN’s International Youth Day <strong>2022</strong> is being celebrated on 12 <strong>August</strong><br />

under the theme Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages.<br />

“To achieve the Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals (SDGs), the world needs<br />

to leverage the full potential of all generations,” says the UN. “Solidarity<br />

across generations is key for sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment. We must<br />

collaborate to foster successful and equitable intergenerational relations<br />

and partnerships to ensure ‘no one is left behind’.”<br />

Sustainability, collaboration and equity are all familiar terms to co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

and discussions around intergenerational activity are taking<br />

place around the world as young pe<strong>op</strong>le grapple with economic, social<br />

and environmental challenges. At the end of last year, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK<br />

looked further into these emerging issues – and last month<br />

consolidated its research with a National Youth Summit in Manchester<br />

(p26-27) and a report (p28-29) highlighting both the biggest challenges –<br />

and how co-<strong>op</strong>s can offer h<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

This issue we also speak with Debs McCahon, CEO of the Woodcraft<br />

Folk (p22-23) and Nick Crofts, CEO of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation (p30-31)<br />

about how their organisations are enabling young pe<strong>op</strong>le through co<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

and Anca Voinea shares her experience of visiting youth co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in Andalusia (p32-33).<br />

One of the many challenges right now is the economy – but co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

are active here, too. July saw the World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference (p36-39)<br />

and the Playground for the New Economy Festival (p34-35) discus new<br />

ways of working in global and local economies – and we also hear more<br />

about the campaign to bring the union co-<strong>op</strong> model to the UK (p44-45),<br />

efforts to building a co-<strong>op</strong>erative banking system in the country (p40-41),<br />

and why US credit unions are ramping up bank acquisitions (p42-43).<br />

Creating a world for all ages, requires new ways of thinking and working<br />

in the world, but as Tom Carman said at the Playground festival, the new<br />

economy is also about trust: “It’s about building structures, processes and<br />

a culture where we all trust one another. It’s about trust – and kindness.”<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 />

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AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



Tony Greenham at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

(p40-41); The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Youth Summit<br />

(p26-27); Elissa McCarter Laborde, CEO of<br />

the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit Unions<br />

(p36-39); Playground for the New Economy<br />

Festival (p34-35); Debs McCahon (p22-23)<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Reports from the<br />

World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

and Playground for the New<br />

Economy Festival ... the Future<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Banking ...<br />

Interview with Woodcraft<br />

Folk’s Debs McCahon<br />

£4.20<br />

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


Graphic design graduate Fabio Cawley<br />

from Chapel Street Studio, a co-<strong>op</strong> of<br />

freelance creatives based in Bradford<br />

is one of the case studies presented<br />

in a new report from <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK<br />

looking at how co-<strong>op</strong>s offer h<strong>op</strong>e to<br />

future generations<br />

(Image: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK)<br />

Read more: p28-29<br />

22-23 MEET ... DEBS MCCAHON<br />

CEO of the Woodcraft Folk<br />



26-27 CO-OP YOUTH SUMMIT<br />

Building better alternatives through<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK’s new report look at values-led<br />

solutions to modern challenges<br />


The CEO of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation on how<br />

it’s building support for young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />


How is the region in southern Spain<br />

shaping current and future leaders?<br />





Report from Stir to Action’s festival of<br />

ideas<br />



The annual event was hosted by the<br />

Woccu and Abcul in Glasgow<br />


efforts to build a co-<strong>op</strong>erative banking<br />

system in the UK<br />

42-43 BUYING TO GET BIG<br />

Why are US credit unions ramping up<br />

bank acquisitions?<br />

44-45 UNION CO-OPS Q&A<br />

The campaign to bring the union co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model to the UK<br />


<strong>2022</strong> edition will look at the transitions<br />

needed to tackle new challenges<br />


5-13 UK news<br />

14-21 Global news<br />

22-23 Meet<br />

24 Letters<br />

25<br />

50<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mment<br />

Events<br />

4 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

UK co-<strong>op</strong>s launch international trading devel<strong>op</strong>ment fund<br />

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

international devel<strong>op</strong>ment fund to help<br />

communities around the world devel<strong>op</strong><br />

trading <strong>op</strong>portunities.<br />

Announced on the International Day<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives (2 July), the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

International Trading Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Fund will be led by Central England<br />

in collaboration with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege and will initially focus on Malawi.<br />

A range of products from suppliers with<br />

trading or product links to Malawi are now<br />

available to buy from Central England’s<br />

more than 260 stores. The fund will also<br />

be supported from sales of the existing<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Fairtrade range.<br />

Central England’s in-store product<br />

displays will feature Malawi-inspired<br />

artwork produced by Creative <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>,<br />

and products will include tea sold under<br />

the Revolver <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> brand, sourced from<br />

Msuwadzi – a smallholder tea association<br />

in the south of Malawi; Kilombero rice,<br />

supplied by JTS; and macadamia nuts<br />

supplied by NutCellars – all sourced from<br />

smallholder farms.<br />

Funds from the product sales will<br />

support work plans created from focus<br />

groups carried out with Malawian co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

– which identified priorities including<br />

climate change mitigation and help with<br />

gaining Fairtrade certification.<br />

And a programme of support on the<br />

ground is being devel<strong>op</strong>ed with the help<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>llege and the Malawi Federation<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives (Mafeco) to improve<br />

trading capacity.<br />

Central England CEO Debbie Robinson<br />

said: “As we celebrate the International<br />

Day of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives it’s a perfect time<br />

to launch the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative International<br />

Trading Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Fund and its very<br />

first initiative – Our Malawi Partnership.<br />

“I visited Malawi many years ago whilst<br />

doing work on Fairtrade and promised the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le I met there that we’d do more.<br />

“A co-<strong>op</strong>erative principle has always<br />

been to focus on devel<strong>op</strong>ing sustainable<br />

initiatives that strengthen community<br />

livelihoods and we’re so excited to be<br />

working with our partners, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>llege<br />

and Mafeco, to use this fund to make a<br />

real difference on the ground in Malawi.<br />

“By buying from the special range of<br />

new products landing in our stores to<br />

mark the launch, as well as our existing<br />

Fairtrade range, contributions will be<br />

made to a truly transformative initiative<br />

that will help to move communities out<br />

of poverty.”<br />

Dr Sarah Alldred, head of International<br />

Partnerships at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>llege, said:<br />

“I’ve always felt extremely welcome in<br />

Malawi and the pe<strong>op</strong>le I’ve met have been<br />

keen to share their stories and h<strong>op</strong>es for<br />

the future.<br />

“The smallholder farmers I spoke<br />

with are all at different stages of their<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative journey. Some are just now<br />

joining a co-<strong>op</strong>erative and others have<br />

worked with Mafeco for years, but all of<br />

them are enthusiastic about the benefits<br />

that co-<strong>op</strong>erative working can bring to<br />

them, their families, and their wider<br />

communities.<br />

“The Malawi Partnership is a fantastic<br />

working example of Principle Six –<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration among co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. It<br />

facilitates the sharing of knowledge and<br />

resources and most importantly it will<br />

allow smallholder farmers to improve<br />

their livelihoods for generations to come.<br />

“We’re excited that the <strong>Co</strong>llege’s<br />

long track record in international co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment, and our unique<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative learning approach is helping<br />

to facilitate such an impactful project.”<br />

Paul Birch, CEO of Revolver <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, one<br />

of the suppliers supporting the initiative,<br />

said: “Malawi relies on tobacco for<br />

70% of its farming cash cr<strong>op</strong>s. Moving<br />

agriculture to a sustainable co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

model, promoting co-<strong>op</strong> values, reflecting<br />

international Fairtrade standards and<br />

switching production to cr<strong>op</strong>s that can<br />

both be consumed locally and exported,<br />

are at the centre of the alliance between<br />

Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>llege and<br />

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

“Only through refocusing Malawi<br />

agriculture towards the sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment goals can we help transform<br />

Malawi’s economy and benefit its pe<strong>op</strong>le.”<br />

Tracy Mitchell, from JTS, suppliers<br />

of Kilombero Rice, said: “We are really<br />

pleased to be part of this exciting<br />

project to support co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

farmers’ associations in Malawi – and<br />

we are thrilled that our award-winning<br />

Kilombero rice will be available to Central<br />

England customers.<br />

“Not only does the rice taste great<br />

– and we’ve got Great Taste Awards to<br />

prove it – but it also delivers a significant<br />

difference to the growers, an association<br />

of smallholder farmers in the northern<br />

part of the country.<br />

“Being part of this initiative will<br />

enhance the farmer associations’ ability to<br />

strengthen community livelihoods as they<br />

seek to bring the poorest out of poverty.”<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 5


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation’s Carbon Innovation Fund partners announced<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative fishery and an<br />

urban farming co-<strong>op</strong> are among the<br />

environmental initiatives granted funding<br />

from the Carbon Innovation Fund.<br />

The fund, a partnership between<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group and its charity, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Foundation, will shares £3m among<br />

projects tackling carbon emissions over<br />

the next three years.<br />

So far, 14 projects have been awarded a<br />

combined £1.3m. Recipients include Fal<br />

Fishery <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, which produces carbonabsorbing<br />

oyster larvae at its hatchery in<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rnwall, and Edinburgh Agroecology <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>,<br />

which is creating a local community<br />

farm to show how land in urban centres<br />

can benefit pe<strong>op</strong>le and the environment.<br />

The Fairtrade Foundation in Mbarara<br />

and Masaka has also been granted<br />

funding for its work producing briquettes<br />

from used coffee grounds, which can be<br />

used as fuel for cooking stoves.<br />

The Carbon Innovation Fund is part of<br />

the Group’s plan, announced last year, to<br />

become a Net Zero business by 2040.<br />

Verity Warnecke, head of climate<br />

change at the Group, said: “It’s this type of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration which is needed across the<br />

world to help accelerate our response to<br />

the climate crisis if we are going to have a<br />

natural environment which we are proud<br />

to pass on to future generations.”<br />

The fund is supported in part through<br />

the sale of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s compostable carrier<br />

bags, with the remainder coming from<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation’s own funds. It is<br />

the largest partnership of its kind between<br />

the retailer and its charity.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation’s CEO, Nick<br />

Crofts, said: “We created the fund to<br />

encourage innovation and help tackle<br />

emissions in the food and farming<br />

industries – and what an incredible first<br />

14 projects we’re funding. From <strong>Co</strong>rnwall<br />

to Malawi, we’re working with our new<br />

partners to create sustainable change and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> inventive solutions to complex<br />

issues. We cannot wait to see what our<br />

partners achieve as they co-<strong>op</strong>erate to<br />

make our world a better place to live.”<br />

Interview with Nick Crofts, p30-31<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party welcomes Labour shift to community-led levelling up<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party has given an enthusiastic<br />

welcome to a “substantial shift” in<br />

policy by its sister party Labour, with<br />

shadow levelling up secretary Lisa<br />

Nandy announcing a new emphasis on<br />

community ownership.<br />

In a speech on 18 July, Nandy said<br />

a Labour government would bring<br />

in a community right to buy, giving<br />

“communities the <strong>op</strong>portunity to take<br />

control of pubs, historic buildings and<br />

football clubs that come up for sale or fall<br />

into disrepair”.<br />

She added that Mark Gregory, former<br />

chief economist of Ernst & Young, will<br />

lead a commission to explore how<br />

community groups can best leverage<br />

private investment to buy assets, how a<br />

fund can best support communities and<br />

what safeguards need to be put in place.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party campaigns officer James<br />

Butler said Nandy had pr<strong>op</strong>osed “a<br />

p Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy<br />

radical alternative to the <strong>Co</strong>nservatives’<br />

increasingly insipid-looking levelling<br />

up agenda, and her vision is largely a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative one”.<br />

He added: “Through our campaigns<br />

and policy work, we have highlighted the<br />

great work that is going on around the<br />

country by co-<strong>op</strong>erators in communities<br />

and on councils. Lisa Nandy is promising<br />

that she will put rocket boosters under<br />

what has been achieved.”<br />

Butler noted that the plans would give<br />

communities first refusal on assets of<br />

community value, on long-term vacant<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty, and the right to buy them without<br />

competition. The current statutory six<br />

months allowed to communities to raise<br />

funds would be doubled to a year.<br />

“A Labour and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative government<br />

would also reform compulsory purchase<br />

orders to allow communities to bring<br />

public buildings into use,” he said.<br />

In her speech, given at the Forum,<br />

a community-owned music venue in<br />

Darlington, Nandy called for a “new<br />

approach to government”, arguing that<br />

“a centralised, remote, bureaucratic state<br />

has turned devolution into a circus, with<br />

mayors and council leaders competing for<br />

crumbs and so often, pe<strong>op</strong>le and places<br />

cut out of the conversation”.<br />

6 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


Treasury minister and credit union reformer John<br />

Glen resigns from government<br />

The wave of ministerial resignations<br />

prompted by the Chris Pincher scandal,<br />

which ended Boris Johnson’s premiership,<br />

includes John Glen who, as economic<br />

secretary to the treasury, was working<br />

closely with the credit union sector.<br />

Glen had held the role since 2018, a<br />

long tenure which meant his department<br />

avoided the problem of ministerial<br />

churn – where frequent changes at the<br />

t<strong>op</strong> prevents ministers from devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

expertise, hampers consistent long-term<br />

policy making and makes it harder for<br />

businesses and other stakeholders to build<br />

relationships with department heads.<br />

He had also been working on a series of<br />

reforms which had been welcomed by the<br />

sector, and announced his plans at May’s<br />

annual conference by the Association<br />

of British Credit Unions (Abcul). These<br />

included governance reforms and a<br />

lending shake-up that will allow credit<br />

unions to offer automobile loans for the<br />

first time.<br />

In his resignation letter to Johnson,<br />

Glen said: “I can no longer reconcile my<br />

commitment to the role and to the financial<br />

services sector with the complete lack<br />

of confidence I have in your continuing<br />

leadership of our country”.<br />

His credit union plans are part of<br />

a wider set of reforms for the finance<br />

sector. “Those reforms are now ready<br />

to be presented to parliament, and they<br />

represent a fundamental reset of the<br />

regulatory framework for the industry and<br />

consumers,” Glen said in his letter.<br />

Responding to the news of his<br />

resignation, Abcul CEO Robert Kelly<br />

said Glen’s reforms would “enable credit<br />

unions to expand the range of affordable<br />

products and services that they offer to<br />

members across the country”.<br />

He added: “John Glen has reiterated<br />

earlier today in his resignation that<br />

financial services reforms are ready to<br />

be presented to parliament and we are<br />

confident credit union content will form<br />

part of that wide agenda.<br />

“Abcul will continue to liaise with HM<br />

Treasury in a pro-active basis to monitor<br />

progress on the days and weeks ahead.<br />

p John Glen announces a set of reforms at<br />

this year’s Abcul conference<br />

Abcul would like to sincerely thank John<br />

Glen for his dedication to the credit union<br />

sector during his tenure as EST and his<br />

constant willingness to engage.<br />

“Everyone at the association wishes<br />

him well in his future endeavours.”<br />

Kelly said communities across the<br />

UK continue to struggle against “a<br />

generational cost of living crisis”.<br />

“Credit unions will continue to serve<br />

communities and employers in these<br />

testing times,” he added, “through the<br />

provision of ethical and responsible<br />

products and services – our mantra of<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le helping pe<strong>op</strong>le will continue to be<br />

the bedrock of everything we do.”<br />


Dairy co-<strong>op</strong> Arla warns UK labour shortage will hit food production<br />

UK dairy co-<strong>op</strong> Arla Foods warns that a<br />

chronic shortage of farm workers is hitting<br />

dairy production and forcing up prices.<br />

It says the situation will worsen<br />

unless action is taken and calls on the<br />

government and agriculture industry to do<br />

more to attract talent to the sector.<br />

A survey in May of 541 of Arla’s 2,100 UK<br />

farmer-owners found that 80% of farmers<br />

looking for workers have received ‘very<br />

few’ or ‘zero’ applications from pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

with the right experience or qualifications.<br />

Brexit ending the free movement of EU<br />

workers and the aftermath of <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

are among factors behind the problem,<br />

says Arla, with more than three-fifths<br />

(61.3%) of farmers finding it more difficult<br />

to recruit now than in 2019. Production<br />

is already affected, the co-<strong>op</strong> adds, with<br />

volumes down 3% on last year.<br />

The survey also finds that a small<br />

but significant number of farmers have<br />

already responded by cutting the number<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

of milkings (4.3%) and/or reducing the<br />

size of their herd (6.0%). Many more say<br />

they will take these steps (6.9% and 6.8%<br />

respectively) or leave farming altogether<br />

(11.9%) in the next year if nothing changes.<br />

Arla, which has called for specialist<br />

roles like herd manager to be added to<br />

the Shortage Occupation List, is engaging<br />

with the new Institute of Agriculture and<br />

Horticulture on the problem.<br />

It has welcomed the focus on improved<br />

skills and qualifications for farm workers,<br />

as well as recruitment, but says more<br />

government action is needed.<br />

UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi<br />

said: “Addressing the labour shortage<br />

and the implications for food security<br />

is vital. Now is the time for all of us,<br />

across government and industry, to work<br />

urgently and collaboratively.<br />

“That’s why I’ve written to the secretary<br />

of state calling on him to accelerate the<br />

review of the labour market promised<br />

in the Food Strategy White Paper and<br />

to commit to a new cross-departmental<br />

strategy to bring talent into food and<br />

farming, making it a career of choice for<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le from all backgrounds. This will<br />

need to include on-farm training, but<br />

also address teaching in schools, careers<br />

advice, support for pe<strong>op</strong>le wanting to<br />

change career, and a marketing campaign<br />

promoting careers in our industry.<br />

“If we don’t act now the current<br />

shortages of pe<strong>op</strong>le will only get worse,<br />

undermining our food security and further<br />

fuelling higher prices for consumers.”<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 7

RETAIL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group launches social mobility impact report<br />

The UK’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has launched a<br />

Levelling Up Impact Report to assess its<br />

impact on levelling up across the country<br />

and recommend future action.<br />

The report was devel<strong>op</strong>ed in<br />

partnership with the Purpose <strong>Co</strong>alition<br />

and benchmarks the organisation’s work<br />

against the UK’s Levelling Up Goals.<br />

The goals were established by former<br />

government minister Justine Greening<br />

in 2021, with input from businesses,<br />

universities and policymakers. Devel<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

from the UN’s Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Goals, they are designed to tackle the<br />

challenges facing the UK after <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 by<br />

providing a framework for organisations<br />

to identify gaps in access to <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

(covering key life stages from early years<br />

to adulthood) and the main areas where<br />

barriers exist that prevent pe<strong>op</strong>le from<br />

achieving their potential.<br />

The report, presented at the House<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>mmons on 5 July by the Group’s<br />

CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq and public<br />

affairs director Paul Gerrard, highlights<br />

the retailer’s commitment to delivering<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity countrywide.<br />

“It is vital that business and government<br />

work in partnership to unlock the talent<br />

that exists everywhere,” said Khoury-<br />

Haq. “We must ensure everyone, whatever<br />

their background, has the <strong>op</strong>portunity to<br />

succeed in a way that is right for them.<br />

I’m delighted that the impact the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

is already having in communities has<br />

been recognised in this report but we also<br />

know there is much more [we] and other<br />

businesses, should do.”<br />

The report explores the Group’s<br />

work across all 14 goals, but highlights<br />

particular achievements against Goal 2<br />

(Successful school years), Goal 3 (Positive<br />

destinations post-16+), Goal 4 (Right<br />

advice and experiences), Goal 8 (Good<br />

health and wellbeing), Goal 10 (Closing the<br />

digital divide) and Goal 11 (Infrastructure<br />

for <strong>op</strong>portunity).<br />

Examples of best practices include<br />

the schools in the organisation’s multiacademy<br />

trust, which are all guided by the<br />

same set of principles but are tailored to the<br />

needs of pupils in specific areas; its Local<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund supporting community<br />

projects chosen by the co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s<br />

members; and its Apprenticeship Levy<br />

Share service, which enables businesses<br />

across England to pledge their unspent<br />

levy, which would have otherwise expired.<br />

The report makes a number of<br />

recommendations for further action where<br />

the Group can extend its work, building on<br />

its existing reputation and countrywide<br />

reach. This includes setting higher<br />

standards on issues such as diversity and<br />

p The report benchmarks the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s<br />

work against the UK’s Levelling Up Goals<br />

socio-economic reporting which could<br />

also be extended to its supply chain;<br />

enabling a more effective transition from<br />

education to work; supporting schools in<br />

social mobility cold spots; and promoting<br />

positive mental health and wellbeing and<br />

better physical health through healthier<br />

and sustainable diets.<br />

“I want the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to be part of a<br />

movement for change and a catalyst for<br />

that change,” added Khoury-Haq. “That’s<br />

why we’re delighted to be working with<br />

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

with UK Youth for social<br />

action in Scotland and<br />

Northern Ireland<br />

A new partnership between the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group and UK Youth will offer young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in Scotland and Northern Ireland<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities to make a difference through<br />

social action in local communities through<br />

the #iwill movement.<br />

The #iwill movement is a collaboration<br />

of over 1,000 organisations and 700 young<br />

#iwill ambassadors & champions from<br />

across the UK, supported by charities UK<br />

Youth and Volunteering Matters.<br />

The Group is partnering with UK Youth<br />

to grow the #IWillScotland and the #iwill<br />

movement in Northern Ireland, working<br />

with YouthLink Scotland and Volunteer<br />

Now in Northern Ireland. Its £250,000<br />

investment, funded by members through<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Partnerships<br />

Fund, will be used to recruit, train and<br />

support new #iwill ambassadors across<br />

the nations. The 10-25 year-olds will work<br />

together to make a difference in their<br />

communities through social action.<br />

Ambassadors will receive training and<br />

mentoring, enabling them to drive change<br />

at a local, national and UK-wide level.<br />

In addition, 150 new #iwill champions<br />

will be recruited, who will help spread<br />

the word and devel<strong>op</strong> their own social<br />

action initiatives. More than 2,000 young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in Scotland and Northern Ireland<br />

are expected to benefit from the Group’s<br />

investment in #iwill.<br />

The Group says social action can have a<br />

life changing impact on young pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

their communities, helping them devel<strong>op</strong><br />

essential personal and social skills such<br />

as self-confidence, resilience, leadership<br />

and motivation. Director of community<br />

and membership Rebecca Birkbeck said:<br />

“Creating fairer <strong>op</strong>portunities for young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to take action on the issues they<br />

care about is crucial in empowering<br />

8 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

This is Purpose, to lead by example and<br />

show how purpose-led businesses can<br />

pave the way. I’m pleased to announce<br />

that the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> will join the new Equality of<br />

Opportunity <strong>Co</strong>alition and we’ve already<br />

started work to explore what we can do to<br />

promote socio-economic diversity within<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>. We commit to share our insight<br />

and next steps in early 2023.”<br />

Jim McMahon MP, chair of the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Party and shadow secretary<br />

of state for environment, food and<br />

rural affairs, acknowledged the role the<br />

Group has played in tackling inequality,<br />

supporting aspiration and promoting<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity across the country.<br />

“I am delighted to welcome this report<br />

from the Purpose <strong>Co</strong>alition, measuring the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s activity against the 14 Levelling<br />

Up Goals and setting out how it can go<br />

even further to boost social mobility and<br />

improve equality of <strong>op</strong>portunity,” he said.<br />

Chair of the Purpose <strong>Co</strong>alition, Justine<br />

Greening, said that making a positive<br />

impact and creating a fairer society “is in<br />

[the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s] DNA”.<br />

She added: “[The Group] is already<br />

doing outstanding work across the<br />

country but its extensive reach and brand<br />

recognition means that it has the potential<br />

to do even more and, crucially, set a<br />

gold standard for what it means to be a<br />

purpose-led business.<br />

“The economic and social challenges<br />

that the country is currently facing –<br />

p <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group CEO Shirine Khoury Haq (2nd left) and public affairs director Paul Gerrard (right)<br />

launched the report at the House of <strong>Co</strong>mmons with colleagues Lorna Jones and Ali Scowen<br />

(Image: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group)<br />

our recovery from the pandemic and the<br />

growing pressures of the cost of living<br />

crisis – means that the role it can play on<br />

delivering social good has never been more<br />

important. The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> gets to the heart of<br />

what matters most in a community. Its<br />

deep knowledge of those it serves enables<br />

it to understand what they really need to<br />

thrive and their local partnerships help to<br />

deliver it. The synergy between business<br />

and community is mutually beneficial<br />

– the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> can focus its efforts on<br />

those who need the most help and,<br />

in return, communities receive welltargeted<br />

and tailored support that is<br />

better placed to make a difference.<br />

“Measuring an organisation’s progress<br />

on how it is levelling up is key. It’s how<br />

things get done. As a leading member of<br />

the Equality of Opportunity <strong>Co</strong>alition, the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has committed to measuring and<br />

reporting the socio-economic background<br />

of their employees as part of its wider<br />

efforts to ensure that everyone has access<br />

to <strong>op</strong>portunity, regardless of background<br />

or where they are from. It is setting an<br />

example that I h<strong>op</strong>e other businesses<br />

will follow and I am looking forward to<br />

working with its leadership team to help<br />

shape the levelling up agenda.”<br />

them to make a real difference in local<br />

communities throughout Scotland and<br />

Northern Ireland.<br />

“We are delighted to be partnering with<br />

UK Youth to grow the #iwill movement<br />

so that even more young pe<strong>op</strong>le can<br />

access support and make positive<br />

change, whether that’s supporting<br />

fairer access to food, improving mental<br />

wellbeing services, or creating even more<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities for young pe<strong>op</strong>le to get<br />

involved in their communities.”<br />

Denise Hayward, CEO of Volunteer Now,<br />

said: “Volunteer Now is delighted to have<br />

the support of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to devel<strong>op</strong> a peer<br />

network of young pe<strong>op</strong>le who are taking<br />

action in their communities”<br />

“We know that peer encouragement<br />

to become involved in social action is<br />

important for young pe<strong>op</strong>le. We also<br />

know that volunteering and social action<br />

makes a difference to the lives of others<br />

and themselves. Our present ambassadors<br />

are a diverse range of amazing young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le and we look forward to supporting<br />

more ambassadors and champions<br />

within Northern Ireland and witnessing<br />

the positive change that they will make<br />

through the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s support.”<br />

Tim Hancock, #iwill ambassador in<br />

Northern Ireland, said: “I’m thrilled with<br />

the support of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>! As one of the<br />

1st #iwill ambassadors in NI I know how<br />

important it is to have peer support, to be<br />

part of something local but also to have<br />

the network and <strong>op</strong>portunities that come<br />

from being part of a UK movement. I’m<br />

looking forward to volunteering alongside<br />

the local <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> branches and being part of<br />

the journey for the year ahead.”<br />

Cian Gullen, co-chair of the Scottish<br />

#iwill Advisory Group & 2016 #iwill<br />

Scotland ambassador, said: “This funding<br />

from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is so valuable to the #Iwill<br />

movement in Scotland. It really helps us,<br />

as young #Iwill Ambassadors, to grow<br />

the #PowerOfYouth across the nation and<br />

reach even more young pe<strong>op</strong>le who want<br />

to create change in their communities.”<br />

Tim Frew, CEO, YouthLink Scotland,<br />

added: “We are delighted with this new<br />

funding from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and to work<br />

alongside UK Youth and our partners in<br />

Northern Ireland and Scotland on this<br />

exciting new chapter for #iwill.<br />

“It’s vital we do all we can to channel<br />

the talent and energy of our young pe<strong>op</strong>le,<br />

and encouraging them to volunteer is<br />

a great way to do this. Not only does<br />

it benefit their local communities, it<br />

empowers young pe<strong>op</strong>le to make lasting<br />

change in their lives and the lives of others<br />

and devel<strong>op</strong> skills for life.”<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 9

p CEO Don Morris at the soon-to-be-demolished Radco site and (left) architects’ images of the pr<strong>op</strong>osed new devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

RETAIL<br />

Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> makes progress on town centre devel<strong>op</strong>ment plans<br />

Somerset-based retailer Radstock <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

has announced updates on its<br />

ambitious plans to redevel<strong>op</strong> the site of its<br />

former Radco Superstore, which closed in<br />

<strong>August</strong> 2020.<br />

Since then, the society has been working<br />

closely with Bath & North East Somerset<br />

(Banes) <strong>Co</strong>uncil planners to complete all<br />

pre-planning commencement conditions<br />

–with progress slowed by the pandemic.<br />

CEO Don Morris said: “It’s been a longtime<br />

coming, but I’m truly delighted to<br />

announce the last pre-commencement<br />

condition has been passed.”<br />

He said this meant the society could<br />

move ahead with the demolition of the<br />

site, which is scheduled to take place this<br />

summer. “It’s not only great news for the<br />

society but also fantastic news for the<br />

town,” he added.<br />

The approved plans for the site, which<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> has drawn up alongside<br />

planning,urban design and devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

consultants Origin 3, include a modern<br />

store and other retail units, offices and 28<br />

apartments in two mixed-use buildings. In<br />

addition, outline planning has also been<br />

approved for the construction of 26 new<br />

homes on part of the existing car park.<br />

Nikki D’Ovidio, PR and communications<br />

specialist at the society, said co-<strong>op</strong><br />

members and the local community “have<br />

been an integral part of the planning<br />

process – included in every step from<br />

conception to the final plans.<br />

“Their feedback has been incorporated<br />

and changed the original plans from<br />

an uber-modern building to a more<br />

traditional design, with the new building<br />

gently integrated into the surrounding<br />

hillside and mirroring similar design<br />

elements to that of the surrounding<br />

buildings.<br />

“Along with Origin 3, we received<br />

high praise from Banes <strong>Co</strong>uncil for our<br />

approach to the redevel<strong>op</strong>ment – referring<br />

to our process as the model for how to<br />

plan and include the local community.”<br />

D’Ovidio said the site “will bring<br />

numerous new jobs to the area – we are<br />

already using local contractors in all<br />

aspects of the build.<br />

“Working with Bath <strong>Co</strong>llege, we<br />

have set up a committee to provide<br />

apprenticeships to young adults looking<br />

to begin a career in the industry.”<br />

Sustainability is also a crucial aspect to<br />

the plans, she said. “It will be built to the<br />

latest environmental standards, ensuring<br />

all wildlife and riverscape are protected,<br />

along with solar panels, shared energy<br />

groups and effective drainage.”<br />

Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is also working<br />

with partners “to create an affordable<br />

housing scheme available to the<br />

society’s employees, old and new, along<br />

with anyone who has a connection to<br />

Radstock,” she added.<br />

The retail units will be <strong>op</strong>en to major<br />

food chains to enhance the local economy,<br />

while Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> will have its office<br />

on the site, along with further office space<br />

to rent.<br />

“We h<strong>op</strong>e to be joined by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Funeral in a purpose-built unit along with<br />

other local businesses,” said D’Ovidio.<br />

“We want the redevel<strong>op</strong>ment to serve the<br />

community for the future, bring the town<br />

together and create quality public realm<br />

where pe<strong>op</strong>le can gather with friends<br />

and family.”<br />

10 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>llege unveils three-year strategy at its AGM<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>llege has unveiled a threeyear<br />

strategy to “streamline its focus” on<br />

areas where it says it has most impact.<br />

Presented by CEO Neil Calvert at its<br />

AGM on 30 June, the strategy sets out the<br />

“aims and aspirations” of the <strong>Co</strong>llege,<br />

“devel<strong>op</strong>ed over a number of months by<br />

staff and trustees, [incorporating] member<br />

feedback and ideas”.<br />

A statement on its website adds: “While<br />

in no way a radical departure from the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

values and work you’ve come to<br />

expect from the <strong>Co</strong>llege – what the new<br />

strategy does is clearly articulate the who,<br />

why, what, and how of our organisation.<br />

We’re clear about our guiding principles,<br />

aims for the future, and the actions we’ll<br />

take to help get us there.“<br />

It adds that strategy has been broken<br />

down into four key themes – co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

learning, thought leadership, international<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment and youth<br />

empowerment – and within those will<br />

cover the curriculum areas of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

leadership, co-<strong>op</strong>erative values and<br />

behaviours, and concern for community.<br />

“By streamlining our focus,” it says,<br />

“we can concentrate on the areas where<br />

our distinctive learning approach can<br />

make the most impact. The strategy also<br />

recognises the importance of working<br />

in partnerships – with co-<strong>op</strong>erators,<br />

educators and others who share our<br />

values and objectives.<br />

“With ongoing inequality and social<br />

injustice in our society, the world needs<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration now more than ever. Our<br />

new strategy aims to put co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

learning at the heart of our communities<br />

and workplaces both in the UK and abroad<br />

to help tackle these issues.”<br />

Specific measures in the plan include<br />

advocating for the creation of new co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

the formation of strategic partnerships,<br />

facilitating “transformative international<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative projects”, delivering flexible<br />

services to suit diverse needs, and working<br />

with disadvantaged youth.<br />


Cwmpas gets £540k<br />

from Welsh government<br />

for housing co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency Cwmpas has been<br />

awarded £540,000 from the Welsh<br />

government, and £408,539 from the<br />

Nationwide Foundation, to continue its<br />

work growing the country’s co-<strong>op</strong> and<br />

community-led housing sectors.<br />

The money will help Cwmpas –<br />

formerly the Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre<br />

– to scale up its <strong>Co</strong>mmunities Creating<br />

Homes programme, whose new five-year<br />

strategy aims to double the number of<br />

groups taking forward co-<strong>op</strong>erative and<br />

community-led housing (CCLH) in Wales.<br />

This includes 150 new low-carbon homes<br />

completed, and a devel<strong>op</strong>ment pipeline<br />

for a further 250 homes.<br />

The government money will be<br />

phased over the next three years, while<br />

Nationwide’s funding – a continuation of<br />

previous support – runs until 2025.<br />

Jocelle Lovell, director of inclusive<br />

communities at Cwmpas, said: “CCLH<br />

plays an essential role alongside councils,<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ers and investors to create<br />

affordable homes in Wales which meet<br />

local community needs and support<br />

future generations. The funding from the<br />

Welsh government and the Nationwide<br />

Foundation is critical to building on the<br />

excellent progress that has already been<br />

made in this area.<br />

p Members of Tir Cyffredin co-<strong>op</strong><br />

“We know that every project is different<br />

– so our support is tailored to the needs of<br />

each community. Whether you’re new to<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative and community-led housing,<br />

have already formed a group or want to<br />

join an existing group, we want to help.”<br />

Climate change minister Julie James<br />

said: “<strong>Co</strong>mmunity-led housing must<br />

remain a part of the housing solution<br />

in Wales. Our support is as strong as it<br />

was 10 years ago and our Programme for<br />

Government reaffirms this.”<br />

Gary Hartin, Nationwide Foundation’s<br />

programme manager, said: “<strong>Co</strong>mmunityled<br />

housing can be a workable alternative<br />

method for genuinely affordable housing.<br />

It can create homes that local pe<strong>op</strong>le need,<br />

where they want them. The conditions for<br />

this to happen are strong in Wales.”<br />

Projects supported by the <strong>Co</strong>mmunities<br />

Creating Homes team include: Tir<br />

Cyffredin Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> in Machynlleth,<br />

teaching the group to set up a housing co<strong>op</strong>,<br />

raise capital through a mortgage and<br />

community funding and buy their house.<br />

None of the residents had any previous<br />

experience of home ownership, setting up<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong> or raising funds.<br />

And Gwyr <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Land Trust CiC,<br />

near Swansea, is in an area where secondhome<br />

ownership has inflated pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

prices and decimated the rental market.<br />

The CCH team is helping a group of locals<br />

toward their goal of building “sustainable,<br />

zero carbon, low impact, stylish, healthy<br />

community-led homes” – including<br />

the establishment of a legal structure,<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ing plans and finding land.<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 11

RETAIL<br />

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

its robot delivery<br />

service to Bedford<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has expanded its<br />

partnership with Starship Technologies to<br />

roll out robot deliveries to neighbourhoods<br />

in Bedford.<br />

Working with Bedford <strong>Co</strong>uncil, the<br />

collaboration will see up to 45,000<br />

residents across 20,000 households<br />

offered deliveries from three local <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

stores – Goldington, Queens Drive and<br />

Kempston.<br />

The Group already <strong>op</strong>erates robot<br />

deliveries with Starship in communities<br />

across Milton Keynes, Northampton and<br />

Cambridgeshire.<br />

Chris <strong>Co</strong>nway, ecommerce director at<br />

the Group, said: “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is committed to<br />

exploring new and innovative ways to serve<br />

our members and customers – they lead<br />

busy lives so ease, speed and convenience<br />

are at the heart of our approach.<br />

“We are delighted to be able to expand<br />

our partnership to areas of Bedford –<br />

as a convenience retailer, the ability to<br />

come into stores will always be important<br />

to customers, but we also know that<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>pers want flexible and convenient<br />

<strong>op</strong>tions online, and so we are focused on<br />

providing what our customers want and<br />

need, however and wherever they choose<br />

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

Starship was created by the co-founders<br />

of Skype in 2014. Since launching<br />

commercial deliveries in 2018, Starship’s<br />

robots have travelled more than 4 million<br />

miles and completed more than 3.5 million<br />

deliveries. It says the robots are powered<br />

by zero carbon electricity, with an average<br />

delivery for a Starship robot consuming as<br />

little energy as boiling a kettle to make a<br />

cup of tea.<br />

The robots are lightweight and travel<br />

at the speed of a pedestrian (no faster<br />

than 4mph). They use a combination<br />

of sensors, artificial intelligence and<br />

machine learning to travel on pavements<br />

and navigate around any obstacles,<br />

while computer vision-based navigation<br />

helps them map their environment to the<br />

nearest inch.<br />

Scotmid launches Men<strong>op</strong>ause Café for its colleagues<br />

Scotmid retail society has become the first<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative to launch a Men<strong>op</strong>ause Café<br />

for its colleagues.<br />

The staff-led initiative aims to <strong>op</strong>en up<br />

conversations around men<strong>op</strong>ause and<br />

create a safe and inclusive environment to<br />

share experiences and discuss challenges.<br />

The member-owned retail society,<br />

which has around 4,000 employees<br />

located across Scotland, Northern Ireland<br />

and the north of England, held its first<br />

online Café on 28 June during <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Fortnight, an annual celebration of co<strong>op</strong>eration.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Fortnight feels like a fitting<br />

time to launch the initiative,” said Shirley<br />

MacGillivray, head of membership and<br />

community.<br />

The launch of the cafe follows Scotmid<br />

sponsoring the world’s only men<strong>op</strong>ause<br />

festival, #FlushFest<strong>2022</strong>, organised by<br />

Perth-based charity, Men<strong>op</strong>ause Café.<br />

Scotmid’s membership, community and<br />

society press liaison manager, Lynne Ogg,<br />

said that meeting the festival organisers<br />

had left her excited about the idea of<br />

setting a Men<strong>op</strong>ause Café at Scotmid, so<br />

she began to take the idea forward.<br />

“The response was positive and<br />

supportive so, as part of our new Wellbeing<br />

initiative, we officially launched the Café<br />

on Tuesday,” she added.<br />

“As well as positive feedback from<br />

Tuesday’s Café, we are hearing that<br />

conversation has <strong>op</strong>ened up between<br />

colleagues across the society. Tuesday’s<br />

group decided they would like to meet<br />

monthly, so plans are under way for the<br />

next Café and we look forward to welcoming<br />

more colleagues to the conversation.<br />

One Scotmid colleague named Gillian,<br />

who attended the Café, said: “I had no<br />

idea what to expect, the Men<strong>op</strong>ause Café<br />

concept was completely new to me. I<br />

thought I would go along to just observe<br />

but I found myself relaxed and happy to<br />

share my own story. It was reassuring to<br />

hear from others, I don’t feel so alone. I felt<br />

uplifted and more positive after only one<br />

meeting so am already looking forward to<br />

the next.”<br />

12 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

RETAIL<br />

Southern h<strong>op</strong>es to save<br />

£220k a year through<br />

electronic shelf labels<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is to roll out electronic<br />

shelf labels (ESELs) across its stores after<br />

a successful trial period.<br />

The retail society has been testing<br />

two types of ESEL since December 2020,<br />

gradually widening the trial to 15 stores<br />

over the past 12 months. It says it has<br />

“astoundingly positive feedback” from<br />

staff who say they could not stand to go<br />

back to paper labelling, and is investing in<br />

a roll out across its estate towards the end<br />

of <strong>2022</strong> and throughout 2023.<br />

Adam Skiller, manager of Southern’s<br />

Stockbridge Road, Chichester, store,<br />

which has had the ESELs for 19 months,<br />

said: “We are able to save so much time<br />

and I have got the confidence that all the<br />

prices are accurate.<br />

“We used to get through around 40<br />

packs of paper for shelf edge labels a<br />

year so that is a huge saving in paper<br />

and financially. All the colleagues love<br />

it. Replacing all the paper labels – the<br />

job always fell to the same pe<strong>op</strong>le and it<br />

is incredibly monotonous. So it does help<br />

with morale and it looks clean and tidy.”<br />

The society h<strong>op</strong>es to save £220,000 a<br />

year in paper and consumable costs such<br />

as printing with the tech, manufactured<br />

by SoluM, a Samsung-invested company.<br />

The rollout is being carried out with<br />

Cambridge tech integrator Herbert Retail.<br />

The installation programme was<br />

delivered in partnership with Scotmid<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, which h<strong>op</strong>es to complete its ESEL<br />

installation to all its stores later this year.<br />

Southern is also the latest independent<br />

retail society to link up with Too Good To<br />

Go to offer Magic Bags of food past its bestbefore<br />

date.<br />

Too Good To Go’s app allows customers<br />

to buy surplus food and drink products<br />

from local Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> sites which are<br />

near to their expiry date.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group to axe 400 jobs at Manchester head office<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group announced plans to axe<br />

400 jobs as <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> was going to press,<br />

pointing to a “tough trading environment”<br />

as the cost-of-living crisis bites. Most roles<br />

will be cut from its Angel Square HQ in<br />

Manchester. A spokeswoman the changes<br />

came “with a heavy heart” but were the<br />

“right thing to do for the long-term health”<br />

of the business.<br />

MPs name Globe co-<strong>op</strong> the Jazz Venue of the Year<br />

Newcastle’s community-owned music<br />

venue The Globe has won a Parliamentary<br />

Jazz Award for the second year running.<br />

The award means the Globe is now<br />

officially the UK Jazz Venue of the Year as<br />

voted by an independent panel of experts<br />

following a public vote. The announcement<br />

was made at the All Party Parliamentary<br />

Jazz Appreciation Group awards ceremony.<br />

Nisa reports healthy 2021 as sales level from pandemic peak<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nvenience retail chain Nisa, owned by<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, reported profits of £7.5m<br />

for the year to 2 January <strong>2022</strong>. This is down<br />

from £10.9m in 2020, when trade was<br />

inflated by <strong>Co</strong>vid lockdown measures, but<br />

way ahead of the £9.4m loss for 2019. Sales<br />

fell back to £1.38bn from £1.6bn in 2020,<br />

which last year fell back to £1.38bn.<br />

Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to fit Smartcool energy saving tech<br />

Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has signed a deal<br />

to install Smartcool technology at 68 of its<br />

sites, as part of its efforts to cut energy use<br />

and reduce its carbon footprint.<br />

The project, which includes the addition<br />

of Smartcool’s <strong>op</strong>timisation technology<br />

on 120 heat pumps, follows a six months<br />

of tests at four of the co-<strong>op</strong>’s sites, which<br />

achieved savings of over 25% in kWh.<br />

Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> offers Fairtrade discount to members<br />

Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative is offering its<br />

members a 10% discount on all Fairtrade<br />

products across its 230 food stores.<br />

The savings, on goods including<br />

bananas, tea, coffee, flowers and wine,<br />

will be in place until the end of the year<br />

at least, and is funded by the society,<br />

meaning there will be no impact on<br />

payments to the producers.<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 13


GLOBAL<br />

World marks 100th International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

The 100th edition of the International Day<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives, celebrated on 2 July, took<br />

the theme “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives build a better<br />

world”, in a bid to promote awareness of<br />

the model.<br />

In a video message, Ariel Guarco,<br />

president of the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Alliance (ICA) said: “As co-<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

we always show that a different world<br />

is possible, one with social justice, in<br />

perfect harmony with nature, a world at<br />

peace. That is why we are celebrating this<br />

day with the certainty that every day we<br />

are transforming our planet into a place<br />

where we can live with dignity, and where<br />

future generations will be able to do this<br />

too. Let’s continue doing what we are<br />

doing to build a better world.”<br />

Iñigo Albizuri, president of the<br />

International Organisation of Industrial<br />

and Service <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (Cic<strong>op</strong>a) noted<br />

that the date also marked the 20th<br />

anniversary of the International Labour<br />

Organisation’s recommendation No.193<br />

on the Promotion of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

“This historical recommendation<br />

acknowledges that ‘co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in<br />

their various forms promote the fullest<br />

participation in the economic and social<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of all pe<strong>op</strong>le’,” he said.<br />

“Indeed, over the years our worker and<br />

social co-<strong>op</strong>eratives – employing four<br />

million persons across the world – have<br />

consistently built a better world through<br />

creating quality jobs, empowering<br />

disadvantaged groups of the p<strong>op</strong>ulation,<br />

and providing affordable, much-needed<br />

goods and services.”<br />

But it is also important to look forward,<br />

he added. “Policymakers across the<br />

globe increasingly pay more attention<br />

to the benefits of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model<br />

because we have answers to many of the<br />

challenges modern societies are facing.”<br />

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

UK, published a blog post highlighting<br />

the international impact of the UK’s co<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

“from disaster relief projects which<br />

help those in desperate need to uplifting<br />

international projects which improve<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le’s livelihoods each and every day”.<br />

In the United Arab Emirates, retailer<br />

Union <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> published a statement<br />

reaffirming its commitment to corporate<br />

social responsibility.<br />

Dr Suhail Al Bastaki, happiness and<br />

marketing director, said: “Being the<br />

largest consumer co-<strong>op</strong>erative in the UAE,<br />

Union <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> plays a vital role in regulating<br />

the market prices and thus benefits the<br />

hard-working consumer with justified<br />

prices and premium quality.<br />

“The sales volume of local, organic and<br />

hydr<strong>op</strong>onic fresh vegetables and fruits has<br />

always been on a steady rise, as supporting<br />

and encouraging local agriculture comes<br />

at the t<strong>op</strong> of our priorities, to achieve<br />

sustainable agricultural goals and<br />

enhance stocks and food security in the<br />

country. Moreover, we have been working<br />

closely with local farms to ensure healthy<br />

agricultural practices and help them in<br />

multiple ways.<br />

“Recently, in line with the directives<br />

of the Executive <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Dubai, we<br />

decided to limit single-use plastic bags<br />

jointly with other retailers from July, which<br />

is a very important step towards gradually<br />

establishing a sustainable environment.<br />

So yes, we can easily establish that co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

are already playing a crucial<br />

role in building a better world for the<br />

current and next generations.”<br />

US apex body NCBA CLUSA runs the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Program (CDP), funded by the US Agency<br />

for International Devel<strong>op</strong>ment (USAID),<br />

which celebrated in several countries.<br />

In Madagascar, NCBA CLUSA joined<br />

the Ministry of Industry, <strong>Co</strong>mmerce<br />

and <strong>Co</strong>nsumption to host the country’s<br />

third National Forum on <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

alongside an expo for co-<strong>op</strong>s to showcase<br />

and sell their products on 1-2 July.<br />

In Kenya, Meru Dairy Union, a key<br />

CDP partner and pillar of Meru <strong>Co</strong>unty’s<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector, held a celebration<br />

which drew more than 20,000 co-<strong>op</strong><br />

members, families and community<br />

members from Meru and neighbouring<br />

Tharaka Nithi <strong>Co</strong>unty. Local government<br />

officials, the governor of Meru, and<br />

the principal secretary from the State<br />

Department of Agriculture also attended.<br />

Many co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and service providers<br />

showcased their products and services.<br />

In Peru, NCBA CLUSA co-sponsored a<br />

virtual event with the Peruvian Leadership<br />

School, “NEURO-COOP: The future of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives of the<br />

future”.<br />

Panellists included prominent leaders<br />

from Peru, Ecuador and Mexico, and<br />

NCBA CLUSA’s CDP director in Peru,<br />

Oscar Inocente. Discussion focused on<br />

how co-<strong>op</strong>eratives can be better prepared<br />

to tackle future challenges and achieve<br />

sustainability.<br />

14 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


Trade deal draws different criticisms from EU and NZ co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

The EU and New Zealand concluded<br />

negotiations for a trade agreement on<br />

30 June, which is expected to increase<br />

bilateral trade between the two by 30%.<br />

The deal, which has sparked concern<br />

from farmers on both sides, for different<br />

reasons, includes the elimination of all<br />

tariffs on EU exports to New Zealand and<br />

guarantee duty-free access on 97% of New<br />

Zealand’s current exports to the EU.<br />

Is the first deal struck by the EU to<br />

include potential sanctions for violations<br />

of environmental or labour standards –as<br />

announced by the block last week.<br />

The deal has a dedicated sustainable<br />

food systems chapter, a dedicated<br />

trade and gender equality article and a<br />

dedicated provision on trade and fossil<br />

fuel subsidies reform.<br />

The agricultural package was among<br />

the most contested, with farmers on<br />

both sides expressing disappointment,<br />

including agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

Asked about the agricultural package,<br />

New Zealand trade minister Damien<br />

O’<strong>Co</strong>nnor: “It’s probably fair to say that no<br />

one likes it, so we must have got it about<br />

right,” reported Reuters.<br />

Responding to the deal, <strong>Co</strong>pa and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>geca, the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean voice of agri farmers<br />

and their co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, raised concerns<br />

about its members’ ability to c<strong>op</strong>e with<br />

market pressures. The apex argued that<br />

additional market access to NZ exporters<br />

would impact Eur<strong>op</strong>ean farmers at a<br />

time when they are trying to invest in<br />

sustainability.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca secretary-general<br />

Pekka Pesonen said: “<strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca<br />

welcome the fact that EU production<br />

safety standard and geographical<br />

indications have been recognised under<br />

the agreement with New Zealand. We<br />

acknowledge the commitments that both<br />

the EU and New Zealand have agreed<br />

upon with regards to incorporating the<br />

principles of the Paris agreement and<br />

sustainability in international trade.<br />

“However, we know that for key sectors<br />

such as dairy, sheep and beef production<br />

this agreement is painful. Therefore,<br />

we call for a pr<strong>op</strong>er management and<br />

monitoring of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on<br />

imports of agricultural products to avoid<br />

market failure.”<br />

p NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern with<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission president Ursula von<br />

der Leyen (Image: Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission)<br />

The agreement will protect the full list of<br />

EU wines and spirits and – by recognising<br />

geographical indications – 163 renowned<br />

traditional EU products, such as Asiago,<br />

Feta, <strong>Co</strong>mté or Queso Manchego cheeses,<br />

Istarski pršut ham, Lübecker Marzipan,<br />

and Elia Kalamatas olives.<br />

This has sparked concern from farmers<br />

in New Zealand. Dairy giant Fonterra –a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative owned by around 10,500<br />

farmers – said the deal was disappointing<br />

for NZ’s dairy sector and reflected a degree<br />

of protectionism in the EU dairy industry.<br />

Simon Tucker, Fonterra’s director for<br />

global sustainability, stakeholder affairs<br />

and trade, said: “The agreement provides<br />

some small pockets of access for certain<br />

products over time, but overall commercial<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities for products such as butter,<br />

cheese, milk powder and key proteins<br />

are constrained relative to the size of the<br />

EU market by a combination of small<br />

permanent quotas, in-quota tariff rates,<br />

and quota administration requirements.<br />

“At the same time, the outcomes for<br />

the EU on geographical indications (GIs)<br />

mean that Fonterra, alongside other<br />

New Zealand cheese producers, will no<br />

longer be able to use the term ‘feta’ after<br />

a transition period of nine years. Fonterra<br />

has, however, retained the ability to use<br />

the terms parmesan and gruyere.<br />

“Access to markets and the elimination<br />

of barriers to trade is critical at a time<br />

of growing ge<strong>op</strong>olitical uncertainty<br />

to provide <strong>op</strong>tionality for exporters,<br />

particularly into markets where<br />

customers and consumers value New<br />

Zealand sustainability and provenance<br />

credentials.”<br />

He added: “New Zealand’s future export<br />

success, and the jobs that this creates<br />

across regional New Zealand, depend<br />

on addressing the large trade barriers<br />

remaining across many markets as part<br />

of New Zealand’s future trade agenda,<br />

including through any upgrades or<br />

reviews of the NZ-EU FTA.”<br />

By contrast, politicians on both<br />

sides have praised the deal. Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission president, Ursula von der<br />

Leyen, said the deal was crucial because<br />

New Zealand is a key partner for the EU in<br />

the Indo-Pacific region.<br />

“This trade agreement brings major<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities for our companies, our<br />

farmers and our consumers, on both<br />

sides,” she said.<br />

“It can help increase trade between us by<br />

30%. It includes unprecedented social and<br />

climate commitments. This new agreement<br />

between the EU and New Zealand comes<br />

at an important ge<strong>op</strong>olitical moment.<br />

Democracies – like ours – work together<br />

and deliver for pe<strong>op</strong>le.”<br />

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda<br />

Ardern said: “Our EU-NZ FTA is expected<br />

to increase the value of New Zealand’s<br />

exports to the EU by up to NZ$1.8bn<br />

(£0.9bn) per year from 2035; that’s more<br />

lucrative than the benefits derived from<br />

our recent UK FTA.<br />

“It’s a strategically important and<br />

economically beneficial deal that comes<br />

at a crucial time in our export led <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

recovery.<br />

“It delivers tangible gains for exporters<br />

into a restrictive agricultural market. It cuts<br />

costs and red tape for exporters and <strong>op</strong>ens<br />

up new high value market <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

and increases our economic resilience<br />

through diversifying the markets that we<br />

can more freely export into.<br />

“The complete removal of duties on<br />

the majority of products New Zealand<br />

exports to the EU is a major achievement<br />

in a deal that covers market access into 27<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean countries.<br />

Negotiations between the EU and New<br />

Zealand started in 2018. The deal will<br />

require approval by trade ministers of all<br />

27 EU member states and the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Parliament and ratification by New<br />

Zealand, all of which could take between<br />

18 and 24 months.<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 15


Business schools’ neglect of co-<strong>op</strong><br />

education ‘costs us all’, warns leading academic<br />

Australian business schools’ neglect of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative education is “costing us<br />

all”, says Greg Patmore of the University<br />

of Sydney.<br />

Writing in The <strong>Co</strong>nversation, Prof<br />

Patmore said the positive contribution<br />

made by co-<strong>op</strong>s in Australia is not reflected<br />

in the country’s business education.<br />

“Australia has a rich history of<br />

communities forming co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

to provide services where for-profit<br />

businesses or the state have been<br />

unwilling or unable,” he wrote. “They<br />

run sh<strong>op</strong>s and schools, offer banking and<br />

mortgage services, and provide housing<br />

and health services.<br />

“Though co-<strong>op</strong>eratives exist throughout<br />

Australian society, making a hugely<br />

valuable economic contribution, their<br />

distinctive nature and management<br />

requirements are largely ignored by<br />

university business schools. This neglect<br />

is costing us all.”<br />

In 2016 a Senate committee inquiry<br />

found neglect of co-<strong>op</strong> and mutual<br />

businesses in education was holding the<br />

sector back.<br />

Prof Patmore suggests in the article<br />

that this neglect has actively damaged the<br />

sector, highlighting the demutualisation<br />

of large member-owned organisations<br />

such as AMP and the St George Bank in<br />

the 1980s and 1990s.<br />

There are over 1,700 co-<strong>op</strong>s in Australia,<br />

with around eight in ten Australians being<br />

members of a co-<strong>op</strong> or mutual. However,<br />

only three in ten Australians could<br />

name a co-<strong>op</strong>erative or mutually owned<br />

enterprise and only 16% of Australians<br />

are aware they are a member of one,<br />

according to a survey conducted by The<br />

Australia Institute.<br />

Prof Patmore points to Tranby<br />

Indigenous adult education school as a<br />

good example of co-<strong>op</strong>erative education,<br />

but said this a “rarity in business<br />

Photo: Getty Images<br />

education”, where “the focus instead is<br />

on individual entrepreneurship, investorowned<br />

businesses and vague ideas of<br />

social business”.<br />

Both specialist courses on co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and recognition of co-<strong>op</strong>s within general<br />

business or law courses is needed, said<br />

Prof Patmore, who also made an appeal to<br />

Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony<br />

Albanese.<br />

“It is important students at all levels<br />

be aware of what makes co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses different and valuable,”<br />

he wrote. “H<strong>op</strong>efully the Albanese<br />

government will not neglect them. They<br />

have a lot to offer communities and<br />

reinforce democratic values.”<br />

GLOBAL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s are key<br />

to SDG3 on health and<br />

wellbeing, says report<br />

The International Health <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Organisation (IHCO) has published a<br />

report on how co-<strong>op</strong>s are helping to<br />

achieve Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goal 3,<br />

Better Health and Wellbeing.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s can be owned by healthcare<br />

professionals, by patients and other<br />

service users, or by multistakeholder<br />

groups, says the report.<br />

It adds that some co-<strong>op</strong>s focus on<br />

one type of service while others offer<br />

a vast array of general and specialised<br />

services. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives can offer medical<br />

services performed by doctors and/<br />

or other professional services such as<br />

nursing, physiotherapy, chir<strong>op</strong>ractic or<br />

dental hygiene. Their role is not limited<br />

to the treatment and cure of diseases, but<br />

also covers preventative, palliative and<br />

rehabilitation services.<br />

By providing these services, says the<br />

report, co-<strong>op</strong>eratives contribute to the<br />

overall performance of health systems<br />

and complement public health systems.<br />

“In some cases, they offer services under<br />

the remit of public healthcare through<br />

direct concession contracts, offering<br />

a sustainable alternative that saves<br />

resources from government budgets.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives also help to balance<br />

the market between public and private<br />

<strong>op</strong>erators, says the report, which includes<br />

a series of case studies to show the value<br />

of the model.<br />

The role of health co-<strong>op</strong>eratives has<br />

been acknowledged by the 2021 UN<br />

secretary general’s Report on <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in Social Devel<strong>op</strong>ment, which stated<br />

that “the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic has led to a<br />

sudden and massive increase in demand<br />

for health services, and health co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in many countries were ready<br />

to provide support, relieving some of the<br />

pressures being faced by public healthcare<br />

systems”.<br />

In addition to providing an overview<br />

of the sector, the report makes<br />

recommendations to “ensure the<br />

fulfilment of their potential and to create a<br />

level-playing field” for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

These include:<br />

• ensuring laws, regulations, and<br />

administrative procedures provide an<br />

enabling environment for co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

cater for their distinctive characteristics;<br />

• providing specific financial tools to<br />

ensure the creation and devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, particularly at the startup<br />

phase;<br />

• ensuring co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

policies feature information, training,<br />

education, and research on the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model and its benefits for achieving<br />

public health objectives;<br />

• encouraging co-<strong>op</strong>s in the health<br />

sector to organise under representative<br />

structures to advocate for policies that<br />

respect their business model in a more<br />

coordinated and efficient way.<br />

The full report from IHCO and<br />

Promo<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> is available on IHCO’s website.<br />

16 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

EUROPE<br />

CECOP report highlights the advantages<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong> model in the care sector<br />

A new report by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

confederation of industrial and service<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives (CECOP) explores how co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

help to meet the high demand for care.<br />

Released ahead of the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Care<br />

Strategy, due this autumn, CECOP’s report<br />

focuses on how co-<strong>op</strong>s address challenges<br />

in the care sector and showcases best<br />

practices.<br />

According to the EU Social Protection<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee (SPC), long-term care will be<br />

necessary for 38.1 million Eur<strong>op</strong>eans in<br />

2050, up from 30.8 million in 2019. The<br />

report highlights some of the challenges<br />

affecting the sector, such as care workers<br />

being poorly paid – or not paid at all,<br />

precarious employment conditions, and<br />

physically and emotionally challenging<br />

work. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives can address these<br />

issues, it argues, by offering quality<br />

services to care recipients and quality<br />

working conditions to their workers.<br />

The sector is particularly well devel<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

in Italy, where more than 14,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

provide care services to five million pe<strong>op</strong>le,<br />

employing 400,000 workers. Similarly, in<br />

Spain 1,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s provide care services<br />

to 67,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le, directly employing 3,000<br />

workers. And in Sweden, around 10% of<br />

childcare is provided by co-<strong>op</strong>s. While<br />

some of these are managed by parents,<br />

others are worker or multistakeholder<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The report highlights the distinction<br />

between co-<strong>op</strong> ownership – exclusively by<br />

workers or alongside other stakeholders<br />

such as care recipients, public authorities<br />

or other partners – and private enterprise.<br />

And it refers to a 2019 Eurofound study<br />

on employment conditions in co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

social enterprises, which found that co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

prefer to offer full-time, permanent jobs –<br />

the ‘standard employment’ model which is<br />

often used as an indicator of a good-quality<br />

job. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> workers in the Eurofound study<br />

rated job quality as high, in absolute terms<br />

and in comparison to similar organisations;<br />

gave high ratings to the social environment,<br />

voice and representation in the workplace,<br />

work-life balance and task discretion;<br />

and reported plenty of <strong>op</strong>portunities for<br />

skills devel<strong>op</strong>ment, high levels of job<br />

security, and “significant intent to provide<br />

workers with career <strong>op</strong>portunities within<br />

organisations”.<br />

As enterprises governed on the principle<br />

of one member, one vote, co-<strong>op</strong>s can also<br />

educate their worker-members on internal<br />

governance issues. The CECOP report says<br />

this allows members “to fully take control<br />

of their own employment, and promote a<br />

collaboration culture”.<br />

Maintaining a work-life balance is<br />

another challenge for care providers and<br />

here, too, co-<strong>op</strong>s can make a difference.<br />

The report explains that “many co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

make an effort t o i mprove t he<br />

living conditions of their members by<br />

providing additional services which relieve<br />

the pressure on the workers”.<br />

Based on these findings, t he C ECOP<br />

report makes several recommendations,<br />

including: giving co-<strong>op</strong>eratives the legal,<br />

political, and financial support they need;<br />

treating care as an essential service to the<br />

community where quality is prioritised<br />

rather than using the cheapest price<br />

criteria in public procurement; improving<br />

accessibility of state aid to co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

providing care services; supporting co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

as key actors providing care in a formal<br />

environment, transforming informal<br />

and self-organised care; and supporting<br />

digitalisation and innovation in the<br />

care sector.<br />

The full report, which was funded<br />

by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Union, is available<br />

at bit.ly/3RmpiY7<br />

GLOBAL<br />

Basel relaxes<br />

guidance on credit<br />

union regulations<br />

The credit union sector has welcomed the<br />

latest guidance from the Basel <strong>Co</strong>mmittee<br />

on Banking Supervision, which calls for a<br />

more pr<strong>op</strong>ortional approach to regulation<br />

to help smaller finance providers.<br />

In its guidance, Basel calls on<br />

supervisory authorities to tailor regulation<br />

for non-internationally active banks,<br />

according to local circumstances.<br />

It said this could mean applying the<br />

current framework –Basel III – or earlier<br />

forms “for jurisdictions that have simpler<br />

banking systems, implemented in a way<br />

that is consistent with the underlying<br />

objective of the international standard.<br />

“Such pr<strong>op</strong>ortionate approaches<br />

preserve financial stability through bank<br />

safety and soundness. For some banks and<br />

banking systems, this might be achieved<br />

with rules that are even simpler than the<br />

Basel Framework while remaining broadly<br />

aligned with the international standards”.<br />

The World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit Unions<br />

(Woccu), which has long been calling on<br />

Basel to work with national supervisors<br />

on the implementation of its standards,<br />

welcomed the guidance. Woccu believes<br />

national supervisors should tailor Basel<br />

III standards appr<strong>op</strong>riately for the size,<br />

risk and complexity of credit unions.<br />

Earlier this year Woccu urged the G20 to<br />

direct the international standard setting<br />

bodies to work closely with national<br />

regulators to fully ad<strong>op</strong>t pr<strong>op</strong>ortional<br />

tailoring of regulations for the purposes of<br />

advancing financial inclusion.<br />

Andrew Price, Woccu’s senior vice<br />

president of advocacy and general<br />

counsel, said: “This guidance is<br />

welcomed and will ultimately help credit<br />

unions achieve greater financial inclusion<br />

worldwide.”<br />

Read the Basel guidance at bit.ly/3PG1wV8<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 17

EUROPE<br />

Social Economy Action Plan report approved by Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament has approved<br />

a report featuring suggestions and<br />

recommendations for a more ambitious<br />

implementation of the EU Action Plan for<br />

the Social Economy.<br />

Prepared by rapporteur Jordi Cañas<br />

MEP (Renew, ES), SEIG vice-chair and<br />

by the Employment and Social Affairs<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee, the report passed with<br />

493 votes in favour, 75 against and 69<br />

abstentions, on 6 July.<br />

The approved report will help to provide<br />

feedback to the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

on its pr<strong>op</strong>osals for the social economy<br />

– which has 2.8 million social economy<br />

actors that employ 13.6 million pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

across the member states.<br />

It makes several recommendations,<br />

such as agreeing a common EU-level<br />

definition of the social economy based<br />

on its main principles and features.<br />

And it advocates the deployment of<br />

financial tools to respond to the specific<br />

needs of social economy enterprises<br />

and organisations, raising awareness of<br />

the social economy as an employer and<br />

entrepreneurial model, and helping social<br />

economy actors devel<strong>op</strong> programmes to<br />

improve social service devel<strong>op</strong>ment, and<br />

boost the delivery and the accessibility of<br />

services for the most vulnerable.<br />

Mr Cañas said: “The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Parliament has shown its resolve to<br />

elevate the social economy and its key<br />

principles – social inclusion, solidarity,<br />

and justice – to the place it deserves in the<br />

EU policy debate.<br />

“More importantly, it has put on the<br />

table some pr<strong>op</strong>osals to pave the way and<br />

accompany the powerful transformation<br />

and consolidation the social economy is<br />

undergoing. The social economy has a<br />

strong ally in the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament.”<br />

Katrin Langensiepen MEP (Greens/<br />

EFA, DE), SEIG vice-chair and shadow<br />

rapporteur, added: “With this report the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament clearly stresses<br />

the importance of social economy<br />

in the green transition and future of<br />

work. We particularly welcome the<br />

gender mainstreaming and the demand<br />

to facilitate funding for women.<br />

Nevertheless, we Greens would have<br />

preferred a more ambitious paper<br />

including the establishment of a label and<br />

p The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament in Strasbourg, France (Image: iStock)<br />

a common definition for social economy<br />

enterprises to increase their visibility. We<br />

h<strong>op</strong>e that this will come in the next steps.”<br />

Juan Antonio Pedreño, president of<br />

Social Economy Eur<strong>op</strong>e, said: “This<br />

report points in a positive direction<br />

and has gathered a wide support from<br />

493 MEPs, that would like to see an<br />

ambitious implementation of the Social<br />

Economy Action Plan. The role of the EP<br />

and of its Social Economy Intergroup is<br />

more relevant than ever to support the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission, member states, and social<br />

economy stakeholders in further boosting<br />

the social economy across Eur<strong>op</strong>e, scaling<br />

up from 6.3% of all EU jobs today to 10%<br />

by 2030.”<br />

The action plan was launched by the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission in December<br />

2021 to boost the social economy, which<br />

includes co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e welcomed the<br />

report, describing it as “an <strong>op</strong>portunity to<br />

push the <strong>Co</strong>mmission to go further in its<br />

commitments”.<br />

Specifically, the apex body approved<br />

of the necessary promotion of the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model and its principles of democracy<br />

and member participation, the need<br />

for enhanced partnerships and co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

between the social economy<br />

and mainstream businesses, and the need<br />

for education, training, upskilling and<br />

reskilling schemes to help social economy<br />

organisations (SEOs) compete.<br />

But the apex was critical of the<br />

absence of more ‘disruptive’ or ambitious<br />

measures.<br />

“For instance, the report does not<br />

include (democratic) governance aspects<br />

as essential criteria of the social economy,<br />

especially regarding socially responsible<br />

procurement,” it said in a statement<br />

on its website. “Similarly, on capacitybuilding<br />

support measures for SEOs in<br />

their (start-up phase) stressed by the<br />

report, to ensure that young co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

or other SEOs get access to funding and<br />

training programmes early on in their<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment phase.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e h<strong>op</strong>es this report<br />

will nourish the <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s work for<br />

the Action Plan implementation. We stand<br />

ready to work on this matter hand in hand<br />

with the <strong>Co</strong>mmission to offer our member<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and social economy as a<br />

whole the best chances to devel<strong>op</strong> and<br />

thrive in the EU.”<br />

18 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

CANADA<br />

Government includes co-<strong>op</strong>s in fund to drive broadband inclusion<br />

The Canadian government is working with<br />

the government of Quebec on a CA$8.2m<br />

(£5.3m) project to bring broadband to 25<br />

rural communities across the province.<br />

Funding includes $181,244 for the<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>érative de câblodistribution de<br />

l’arrière-pays (CCAP) for a project<br />

benefiting the community of Stoneham-et-<br />

Tewkesbury.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>’s general manager Stéphane<br />

Arseneau said: “As a co-<strong>op</strong>erative, we’re<br />

pleased to be able to participate in this<br />

collective effort to connect all Canadian<br />

households to high-speed internet.<br />

“We appreciate the involvement of both<br />

governments in this project, giving us the<br />

means and support needed to finally serve<br />

the residents in our area. They too deserve<br />

to take full advantage of this advanced<br />

and efficient means of communication.<br />

We had wanted to offer them this service<br />

for a long time, but its deployment was<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

inconceivable without this financial<br />

support.”<br />

The funding also sees $98,758 go to the<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>érative de télécommunication SJM<br />

for a project benefiting the community of<br />

Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur-de-Wolfestown.<br />

In a joint statement, the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

president Marc-André Grenier, and local<br />

mayor Steven Laprise said: “Saint-Jacques-<br />

Le-Majeur is the smallest municipality<br />

in Les Appalaches RCM, with barely<br />

200 inhabitants. This small group of<br />

residents decided to form a co-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

After six years of effort and with financial<br />

support from the federal and provincial<br />

governments, the municipality was the<br />

first to offer fibre-to-the-home Internet<br />

service in the summer of 2021.<br />

“Just because we’re small doesn’t mean<br />

we can’t have big plans. Our motto is keep<br />

moving forward!”<br />

The government of Canada says the<br />

scheme continues its “progress toward<br />

making sure that 98% of Canadians have<br />

access to high-speed internet by 2026”,<br />

adding that since 2015, it has invested<br />

more than $731m in Quebec connectivity.<br />

The scheme also includes private<br />

telecoms providers – with $1,208,522<br />

going to Bell Canada.<br />

AFRICA<br />

Fairtrade<br />

partnership using<br />

satellite monitoring tool<br />

to combat deforestation<br />

A partnership project is being launched<br />

by Fairtrade International, Fairtrade<br />

Africa and the non-profit Earthworm<br />

Foundation to monitor deforestation and<br />

assess environmental vulnerability using<br />

a satellite monitoring tool called Starling.<br />

The pilot project will capture<br />

deforestation data within Fairtrade co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and their smallholder cocoa farmers<br />

in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to help them<br />

manage the forest. Working with the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, Earthworm will devel<strong>op</strong> a set<br />

of assessment tools which will analyse<br />

deforestation monitoring requirements,<br />

assemble the data required to carry out<br />

risk analyses and deliver near-real-time<br />

deforestation alerts. It will also devel<strong>op</strong><br />

training to smallholder co-<strong>op</strong>s to enable<br />

them to interpret the data and alerts.<br />

The partnership is expected to roll out<br />

its first deforestation alerts this summer.<br />

“Earthworm Foundation is excited to<br />

implement this project with Fairtrade<br />

International and Fairtrade Africa,” said<br />

Rob McWilliam, director of technical<br />

services at Earthworm Foundation.<br />

“We look forward to proving our<br />

experience and knowledge of using<br />

Starling’s land cover and forest cover<br />

change datasets to tackle deforestation<br />

and support actions for addressing<br />

environmental vulnerabilities. We are also<br />

excited to be working further with farmers<br />

and their organisations to devel<strong>op</strong> fit-forpurpose<br />

tools to enhance their work.”<br />

Jon Walker, senior advisor for <strong>Co</strong>coa<br />

at Fairtrade International, said: “We<br />

are thrilled to announce this landmark<br />

partnership that will explore how<br />

powerful data sets can be leveraged by<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and their members for<br />

their own risk analysis processes and in<br />

alignment with expected government<br />

regulation against deforestation.”<br />

The announcement follows a<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission legislative<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osal published in 2021 that seeks<br />

to ban imports of cocoa, coffee and<br />

other commodities when production is<br />

associated with deforestation. While<br />

supportive of deforestation legislation in<br />

general, Fairtrade has voiced concerns<br />

about its impact on smallholder farmers,<br />

who are reliant on cocoa for their income.<br />

The Fairtrade-Earthworm Foundation<br />

partnership aims to help smallholder<br />

cocoa farmers navigate any legislative<br />

complications that may threaten their<br />

livelihoods while also helping to preserve<br />

the environment.<br />

“This partnership will finally direct<br />

the transfer of deforestation risk data in<br />

a meaningful way to co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

their members in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana<br />

using the principles of Fair Data,” added<br />

Mr Walker.<br />

“In this manner, we can ensure that<br />

those with the least power in supply<br />

chains have access to this critical data and<br />

can use it to improve their livelihoods and<br />

beneficially impact their communities.”<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 19


Australian co-<strong>op</strong>s continue their response to devastating flood crisis<br />

With New South Wales (NSW) suffering<br />

more floods, just months after the disaster<br />

that submerged huge areas of eastern<br />

Australia, the co-<strong>op</strong> movement is stepping<br />

up its efforts to offer assistance.<br />

Heavy flooding broke out last month<br />

around the Sydney and Central <strong>Co</strong>ast area,<br />

destroying homes, leaving pe<strong>op</strong>le without<br />

power and killing at least one person.<br />

This comes hard on the heels of the<br />

devastating floods that hit NSW and<br />

Queensland between February and April,<br />

which left at least 22 pe<strong>op</strong>le dead.<br />

The Australian Mutuals Foundation<br />

(AMF), in partnership with the Business<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals<br />

(BCCM), G&C Mutual Bank and<br />

Summerland Credit Union, is offering<br />

small grants to support co-<strong>op</strong>s, mutuals<br />

and their members. This follows donations<br />

of more than AU$208,000 (£120,000) from<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s around the world, says BCCM.<br />

Individual co-<strong>op</strong>s around flood-hit<br />

Lismore, in the Northern Rivers region of<br />

NSW, have been playing a role in recovery.<br />

Norco Dairy <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, whose ice-cream<br />

factory, head office and rural store in South<br />

Lismore were deluged on 28 February,<br />

has been supporting its workers while<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations are suspended. It established<br />

a Go Fund Me page for employees and<br />

farmers, raising $109,794.15 as at 28 June.<br />

Thanks to a federal support package,<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> has been paying staff to work<br />

with volunteer group Resilient Lismore.<br />

“Resilient Lismore has tasked Norco<br />

crews to some of our biggest, dirtiest<br />

jobs,” said the volunteer organisation in<br />

a Facebook post. “Demolitions, cleanups<br />

and yard work. You name it. Every<br />

morning they arrived at the volunteer<br />

hub ready and willing to serve the most<br />

vulnerable in their community – some<br />

workers flood affected themselves.”<br />

The Norco team’s work with Resilient<br />

Lismore ended on 12 July with the 170 ice<br />

cream factory workers facing an uncertain<br />

fate; the co-<strong>op</strong> is still unable to cover<br />

workforce costs while the site is out of<br />

action, and the emergency federal support<br />

package was due to end on 14 July.<br />

But on the final day, the federal<br />

government stepped in with a $2.7m<br />

(£1.5m) package which gives Norco<br />

10 weeks to apply for further funding<br />

from a $59.3m (£34m) business support<br />

programme.<br />

Norco is one of several major businesses<br />

calling for the support programme to be<br />

doubled, and warns that rebuilding the<br />

ice cream site will depend support from<br />

federal and state governments.<br />

“Norco is ready and our staff are ready,”<br />

said CEO Michael Hampson. “I have a<br />

renewed sense of <strong>op</strong>timism for the future<br />

of the facility and we look forward to the<br />

day we celebrate its re<strong>op</strong>ening.”<br />

Another key co-<strong>op</strong> player is Summerland<br />

Credit Union, most of whose 30,000<br />

members live in the Northern Rivers area.<br />

In a podcast, BCCM interviewed CEO<br />

John Williams, who said the credit union<br />

has played a key part in community<br />

recovery, even though its own branches<br />

were left under water. In areas like<br />

Lismore, every bank branch and ATM<br />

was destroyed, leaving residents with<br />

cashflow problems. In response, cash was<br />

helic<strong>op</strong>tered in to affected regions.<br />

In Lismore, Summerland worked with<br />

Southern Cross University to set up an<br />

emergency banking hub four days after<br />

the flood, with five other mutual banks<br />

invited to use the site. Summerland has<br />

re<strong>op</strong>ened its Molesworth Street branch in<br />

Lismore but will continue the Southern<br />

Cross hub.<br />

Summerland also worked with Norco<br />

to set up emergency payroll facilities.<br />

“We have a quite a tight network of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives within the region,” said<br />

WIlliams. “I meet quite regularly with the<br />

executives and CEOs from Casino Food,<br />

from Norco, from macadamias, from the<br />

blueberry industry … to look at <strong>op</strong>tions<br />

and ways that we can further support the<br />

community and rebuild businesses.”<br />

Summerland is h<strong>op</strong>ing to secure a<br />

$200,000 (£115,000) pot of reconstruction<br />

funds, from the AMF and other sources,<br />

with a primary goal of restoring what has<br />

been destroyed in the disaster.<br />

Williams warned that climate change<br />

means “the norms in the past are not<br />

necessarily the norms of the future”.<br />

Also working to relieve the situation<br />

in Northern Rivers is Casino Food <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>,<br />

the largest farmer-owned meat processing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> in Australia, which set up an<br />

emergency food distribution hub using<br />

its refrigeration plant, forklifts, helipad,<br />

fuel tanks, mobile generators and earth<br />

moving equipment.<br />

Staff, including plant workers and<br />

cleaning teams, volunteered to clean<br />

homes and assist with food distribution.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative also agreed to take<br />

in the entire fresh produce – 20 pallets’<br />

worth – of a Lismore fruit and veg sh<strong>op</strong><br />

after it was evacuated, which BCCM says<br />

was “vital in keeping locals in evacuation<br />

centres alive”. And it served as the centre<br />

for air dr<strong>op</strong>s to isolated and cut-off<br />

communities – delivering 90 pallets of<br />

food, using 20 helic<strong>op</strong>ters and 11 trucks<br />

to 14 communities, feeding 4,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

North of Lismore, in the Hawkesbury<br />

Nepean area and Richmond Valley,<br />

CivicRisk Mutual has also been hard<br />

at work. The mutual, which provides<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty protection to 26 local authorities<br />

in NSW, stepped in to ensure council and<br />

community buildings were repaired.<br />

“We provide water and sewerage<br />

services to pr<strong>op</strong>erties and the<br />

infrastructure in Richmond Valley region<br />

was severely damaged,” CEO Andrew<br />

Armitstead told <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>. “CivicRisk<br />

Mutual works closely with the councils to<br />

get them back and <strong>op</strong>erational as soon as<br />

possible. The past 12 months have been<br />

the largest number and most expensive<br />

flood claims in our 34-year history.<br />

“We have made immediate payments<br />

to councils to get them back and running<br />

once we knew the extent of the problem<br />

so they had cash to start rebuilding and<br />

worked with them to maximise financial<br />

support from the governments as the<br />

impact to uninsured infrastructure roads,<br />

parks, etc are far greater than the council<br />

buildings we insure.”<br />

20 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


Fishing co-<strong>op</strong><br />

faces challenges from<br />

environmental crisis<br />

p Fishing boats on the shore of Lake Kariba<br />

Zimbabwe’s first women’s fishing co<strong>op</strong><br />

has seen its catches dwindle due to<br />

climate change, overfishing and decreased<br />

rainfall, the Guardian has reported.<br />

Members of the Bbindauko Banakazi<br />

Kapenta <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative told the paper their<br />

once-lucrative business on Lake Kariba<br />

has been facing challenges since 2018.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> was set up by ten women<br />

who fish on the lake for the Tanganyika<br />

sardine, also known as kapenta. The<br />

women rotate their time on a monthly<br />

basis to make use of the co-<strong>op</strong>’s pontoon<br />

boat, which was built in 2011 by local<br />

charity the Zubo Trust and UN Women.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> has enabled members to put<br />

their children through school and become<br />

more financially stable, but the declining<br />

catch threatens this progress.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> member Sinikiwe Mwinde said<br />

they used to catch around three tonnes<br />

of kapenta a month, but are now lucky to<br />

catch just one tonne.<br />

Merchants who buy from the women<br />

pay USD$150 (£125) for a 90kg bag of fish,<br />

but reduced catches means that the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

has fallen behind on its licence fee<br />

payments, for which it pays $300 (£251)<br />

every three months.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> has also attempted fish<br />

farming but the project fail because they<br />

could not afford a pump or the cost of<br />

feeding the fish.<br />

The Zimbabwe National Parks<br />

and Wildlife Management Authority<br />

(Zimparks) confirmed that reduced<br />

rainfall and increased temperatures in<br />

recent years has meant that there is less<br />

algae in the lake, which kapenta feed on.<br />

Zimparks has introduced measures to<br />

bring back the fish p<strong>op</strong>ulations, such as a<br />

seven-day fishing ban over the full moon<br />

and increased enforcement of fishing laws<br />

to discourage poaching.<br />

Apex welcomes EU Czech presidency priorities<br />

With Czech Republic taking over the<br />

rotating presidency of the <strong>Co</strong>uncil of the<br />

EU in July, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e welcomed<br />

the country’s programme for the next<br />

six months, which aims to promote<br />

solidarity with Ukraine, energy security,<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e’s defence and economic and<br />

democratic resilience.<br />

Government backs co-<strong>op</strong> to become a digital jobs hub<br />

A Filipino co-<strong>op</strong>erative in Kabankalan City<br />

has been designated a digital jobs hub<br />

as part of a government-led programme<br />

to generate rural employment. The<br />

Kabankalan-Ilog Teachers and Employees<br />

Multi-Purpose <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative (KITEMPCO)<br />

will provide training to local residents,<br />

to enable them to gain incomes on a<br />

freelance basis.<br />

Indonesia could restrict red palm oil production to co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

The Indonesia government is considering<br />

restricting red palm oil production to<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, according to a report by<br />

national news agency, Antara. Palm oil<br />

production has been a key issue recently,<br />

with the government introducing a policy<br />

that requires producers to sell a portion<br />

of their output to the local market after an<br />

earlier ban on palm oil exports.<br />

NRECA launches broadband service for US electric co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

The National Rural Electric <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association (NRECA) has launched a<br />

service for its member electric co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

that provide broadband to members,<br />

or are considering offering it. The<br />

service includes access to new strategic<br />

communications services, education and<br />

events; focused business and technology<br />

support; and targeted advocacy.<br />

Liberian fishery co-<strong>op</strong>s receive outboard engines<br />

Image: NaFAA<br />

Members of 22 fishery co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

staff from the National Fisheries and<br />

Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) of Liberia<br />

attended a training day on maintenance<br />

of outboard engines, which had been<br />

donated by the Japanese government. The<br />

training session was delivered by Japan’s<br />

Yamaha <strong>Co</strong>rporation alongside CICA<br />

Motors from Liberia.<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 21

MEET<br />

Debs McCahon<br />

CEO of the Woodcraft Folk<br />

Debs McCahon joined Woodcraft Folk in 2008 and was<br />

appointed CEO in 2020. Previously joint CEO, she has had a<br />

variety of senior roles including membership devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

manager and head of devel<strong>op</strong>ment. Her current remit<br />

includes everything from project devel<strong>op</strong>ment to finance,<br />

youth engagement and co-ordinating the forthcoming<br />

centenary celebrations of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement for<br />

children and young pe<strong>op</strong>le, founded in 1925.<br />



When the <strong>op</strong>portunity came up to join Woodcraft<br />

Folk I thought it was an interesting chance<br />

to combine my professional experience with<br />

my lifelong interest in the environment and<br />

sustainability. Having been involved in youth work<br />

for the whole of my career this is the only place<br />

where I have seen multiple generations engage in<br />

activity and learn something from each other. It’s<br />

very, very special.<br />


LIKE?<br />

As CEO I do a lot of work around planning<br />

and problem solving as well as finance and<br />

fundraising issues. We closed our London office<br />

during <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and chose not to re<strong>op</strong>en, so I work<br />

from home in Leicestershire. I spend a lot of time<br />

trying to secure the funding we need for projects<br />

to continue. Our staff are spread across the UK<br />

from Brighton up to Glasgow and I support good<br />

Sometimes we, adults, say we want<br />

to consult young pe<strong>op</strong>le when<br />

actually we tend to set the agenda.<br />

We should be working with them<br />

communication between the central organisation<br />

and residential centres so staff and volunteers<br />

are all working in the same direction. We are<br />

all still getting used to life post-<strong>Co</strong>vid and not<br />

travelling as much as we used to, but I do visit<br />

groups and branches, and network with other<br />

youth organisations. Our core senior management<br />

team includes heads of centres, members and<br />

resources, so 26 staff members in total. As CEO I<br />

oversee all that. There is really no such thing as<br />

a typical day – there are always new challenges.<br />

In two and a half weeks’ time, we will be having<br />

an international camp. My working week will be<br />

about setting things up – one of my jobs will be<br />

helping to build a solar power system bringing us<br />

the electricity for the camp!<br />


It is about involving young pe<strong>op</strong>le, finding<br />

out how they wish to be engaged and using<br />

communication channels they use themselves.<br />

And what do we mean by young pe<strong>op</strong>le?<br />

Listening at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress it tended to be<br />

about graduates, but from the Woodcraft Folk<br />

perspective, we are involving children as young<br />

as 10 in decision-making, helping them influence<br />

change. Our Kids Got Rights initiative is an<br />

international project bringing together partner<br />

organisations across Eur<strong>op</strong>e, raising children<br />

and adults’ awareness on children’s rights.<br />

Sometimes we, adults, say we want to consult<br />

young pe<strong>op</strong>le when actually we tend to set the<br />

agenda. We should be working with them. When<br />

you see a nine-year-old in communication with<br />

an adult it’s very empowering.<br />

22 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>




From the retail point of view, the co-<strong>op</strong> movement is<br />

already doing so much in terms of choices – such as<br />

changing the packaging of products to make it easy<br />

to reduce carbon footprinting – but there is still a<br />

lot of education needed. We recently launched a<br />

carbon literacy project teaching pe<strong>op</strong>le about the<br />

carbon value of choices they make. It would be<br />

really interesting to work with our retail societies to<br />

try to share some of that information. But they are<br />

already doing a really good job raising awareness.<br />



Some things would be very familiar to original<br />

members. We are still creating co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

communities and camping in fields – it’s important<br />

members are still being given the chance to live<br />

those co-<strong>op</strong> values in that kind of way. We do a lot<br />

more outreach work and have a strategic plan about<br />

increasing participation. We have 300 local groups,<br />

six residential centres 5,000 young members and<br />

3,000 adult volunteers. There is a lot more schoolbased<br />

and project work. In places such as Bradford<br />

and Leeds, we are working with <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Academies<br />

Trust to engage young pe<strong>op</strong>le, identifying what<br />

they want to improve in terms of green social action<br />

in their communities. We are still internationalist;<br />

our outlook on peace and justice has not changed –<br />

we have just built a new peace garden in the centre<br />

of Leeds.<br />

When we first started it was all about creating<br />

international connections after World War I so<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le had a greater understanding of each<br />

other. It has evolved into far more. There is lots of<br />

educational work and we are involved in projects<br />

like helping to build schools and creating an<br />

allotment in a refugee camp in Western Sahara.<br />



There are two very significant things we do –<br />

helping to devel<strong>op</strong> critical thinking skills by the<br />

education we offer around social change and<br />

exploring t<strong>op</strong>ics in a deeper way than simply<br />

engaging on social media or limits of the school<br />

curriculum. Woodcraft Folk is about social<br />

connections and making lifelong friendships,<br />

which is really important in supporting young<br />

members. We now proactively target schools where<br />

we are trying to ensure as many young pe<strong>op</strong>le as<br />

possible get the benefit from what we are offering.<br />

We are looking for ways we can engage children<br />

who would not traditionally come to Woodcraft<br />

Folk. There are residential camps for pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

who do not attend local groups, one for older<br />

children aged from 13 to 14 focussed on mental<br />

health. <strong>Co</strong>vid was difficult but also special. We<br />

launched Dream Big At Home, an online version of<br />

Woodcraft Folk with Zoom sessions and engaged<br />

over 12,000 young pe<strong>op</strong>le. If you had asked me<br />

at the start of the pandemic would we be able to<br />

deliver Woodcraft Folk online I would have said<br />

no – but in our first week of online singing and<br />

storytelling, over 1,500 pe<strong>op</strong>le turned up…<br />



There will be a special camp in July /<strong>August</strong><br />

2025. We h<strong>op</strong>e to host an exhibition at the<br />

Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s History Museum in Manchester sharing<br />

our banners and badges but that has yet to be<br />

confirmed. Currently, we have a working group<br />

and are consulting young members about what<br />

they wish to do. Ideas already include Guinness<br />

World Record attempts, a big sing around and a<br />

book about the history of Woodcraft Folk.<br />


One of the best parts is seeing pe<strong>op</strong>le who maintain<br />

contact with individuals for decades. I have heard<br />

many stories of volunteers now in their 70s and<br />

80s who are still in touch. One of the lovely things<br />

about being here so long is watching children<br />

grow up into young leaders. We are about to go on<br />

international camp for 2,500 children, which will<br />

be a real launch pad. It should have happened<br />

in 2020 and was delayed because of <strong>Co</strong>vid and it<br />

will be wonderful to see those young volunteers<br />

working together and empowering each other.<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 23


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

pioneers of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement,<br />

was born here in Ipswich, in Lower Brook<br />

Street, in 1786.<br />

I’m proud to see Ipswich Borough<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil flying the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

Alliance flag from the Town<br />

Hall. When I was elected mayor, I said<br />

that community and co-<strong>op</strong>eration would<br />

be my mayoral theme.<br />

Here in Ipswich, many thousands of<br />

residents are members, that is owners,<br />

of local co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and share in their<br />

success.<br />

I am a Labour and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative councillor,<br />

serving this year as mayor of Ipswich, as<br />

well as being a director of East of England<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Society. This year, for the<br />

first time ever, I was able to get the ICA<br />

flag flying from Ipswich Town Hall on the<br />

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

Ipswich has a long history of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration. East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has<br />

served Ipswich pe<strong>op</strong>le for more than<br />

150 years; it was founded as the Ipswich<br />

Industrial <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Society on 3<br />

March 1868. William King, one of the early<br />

John <strong>Co</strong>ok, mayor of Ipswich<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 />

<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 />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Women’s Voices is a series<br />

of conversations with women,<br />

who will share what has motivated<br />

them, what the challenges have<br />

been, and who has supported<br />

them along the way.<br />


Vice-chair of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Heritage Trust<br />

24.08.<strong>2022</strong><br />

l 10am BST<br />


Former MEP, former chief executive of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK and former president of<br />

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

21.09.<strong>2022</strong><br />

l 12 - 1.30pm BST<br />

bit.ly/3sHDKOg<br />

24 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


‘The profit motive does not sit well with care of any kind’<br />

These are the words of Greater Manchester<br />

mayor Andy Burnham, at a session on<br />

care and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress.<br />

They will resonate with many pe<strong>op</strong>le: care<br />

workers, those being cared for, families<br />

and friends; especially when they come<br />

from a former health secretary.<br />

Why do care and profit collide, and can<br />

we do anything about it?<br />

This is not a new t<strong>op</strong>ic – a recent<br />

Guardian editorial poses a similar<br />

question – but it might be helpful to look at<br />

it in a new way. Every business, whatever<br />

goods or services it provides, needs<br />

three things: customers, a workforce,<br />

and finance. If any of these becomes<br />

unavailable, it will collapse. Plus, workers<br />

need jobs, many pe<strong>op</strong>le need care, and<br />

finance craves a profit. They all need and<br />

cannot survive without each other.<br />

But they are also in tension with each<br />

other. Customers want to pay less or<br />

have better products for the same or less<br />

money; workers want to be paid more and<br />

have better terms and conditions; and<br />

finance wants a greater reward for the<br />

risks it is taking.<br />

There are two ways of addressing these<br />

inherent tensions.<br />

The first way, the route most<br />

economies have taken, is to assume<br />

that those three interests must always<br />

compete with each other. So legal<br />

arrangements (companies, contracts,<br />

intellectual pr<strong>op</strong>erty) are designed on<br />

the basis of competition, which provides<br />

a mechanism for trade. This generally<br />

results in capital being the owner of<br />

enterprise, with no place or voice for<br />

customers or workers in the ownership<br />

and governance arrangements. It<br />

institutionalises the tension. Capital<br />

seeks to reward capital; competition is<br />

for the private benefit of its owners. This<br />

is where and why care and profit collide.<br />

All forms of care sit uncomfortably with<br />

the profit motive because giving is at the<br />

heart of care, and you cannot give while<br />

locked into competing for private benefit.<br />

But there is another way of addressing<br />

the tension: getting capital, labour and<br />

custom to collaborate with each other,<br />

rather than compete, treating all three<br />

interests (and other external ones) fairly.<br />

p Andy Burnham speaking at the <strong>2022</strong> UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

All forms of care sit<br />

uncomfortably with<br />

the profit motive<br />

because giving is at<br />

the heart of care<br />

This is business co-<strong>op</strong>erating for the<br />

common good, rather than competing for<br />

private gain.<br />

This approach was, and to this day<br />

remains a radical alternative. It flourished<br />

in the second half of the nineteenth<br />

century and into the twentieth. But the<br />

post-war settlement, the rise of large<br />

investor-owned businesses, and the<br />

demutualisation of most of the building<br />

society sector left mutuality as a marginal<br />

part of the business landscape.<br />

Not only is that landscape now<br />

dominated globally by investor-owned<br />

businesses trading for the private benefit<br />

of shareholders; but it has left most pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

with the firm belief that competitive<br />

behaviour is the only possible basis for<br />

business, and that co-<strong>op</strong>eration and<br />

mutuality are quaint ideas whose time<br />

has passed.<br />

The apparently unshakeable belief in<br />

competition and “the market” has resulted<br />

in the privatisation of many public<br />

services and left us with a care system<br />

locked into arrangements designed to<br />

produce economic outcomes, rather than<br />

care. That’s crazy, and wrong. Can it be<br />

changed?<br />

In recent years various things have<br />

shaken the belief in competition: the<br />

financial crisis of 2007/8; the climate<br />

crisis; and social inequality. But we still<br />

fail to address the source of the problem<br />

and continue to treat the symptoms.<br />

It isn’t just care that is incompatible<br />

with a competitive approach. In an<br />

increasingly crowded planet with limited<br />

resources, humanity cannot afford to<br />

stand by and watch competition for private<br />

gain dominate the world of enterprise or<br />

international relations.<br />

There is another possible basis for<br />

human society. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration for the<br />

common good urgently needs to be<br />

explored.<br />

Cliff Mills, July <strong>2022</strong><br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 25

By Alice Toomer-<br />

McAlpine and<br />

Anca Voinea<br />

Research by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK earlier this year<br />

revealed some of the issues worrying young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le – such as poor job <strong>op</strong>portunities,<br />

mental health and data privacy. Such a range of<br />

concerns is not surprising: young pe<strong>op</strong>le are not<br />

a homogeneous group, as was pointed out at the<br />

apex body’s first National Youth Summit in July.<br />

However, there was one t<strong>op</strong>ic of interest shared<br />

by the 16-30 year olds who gathered for the event<br />

in Manchester: co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. Attendees ranged<br />

from co-<strong>op</strong> founders and members to those who<br />

had little to no prior knowledge of co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

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

the day with an apology: “I apologise that not<br />

enough young pe<strong>op</strong>le know what a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

is, because there are solutions, and there is h<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

Part of doing this is to get that word out there but<br />

also to ask you to help us with that mission.”<br />

The day that followed included a social action<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong> led by Dan <strong>Co</strong>x, UK project manager at<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>llege, who warned that social<br />

action means getting used to disappointment<br />

and failure, and called on pe<strong>op</strong>le to shift gears<br />

from the long-term big picture to the immediate<br />

practical actions. “You need to be a giant,” he<br />

added. “You’ve got to have your feet on the<br />

ground and your head in the clouds.”<br />

A conversation around how that action might<br />

be coordinated was facilitated by Dr Owen Powell<br />

from the Young <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators Network (YCN),<br />

a peer-to-peer network which supports young<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators through outreach, friendship,<br />

collaboration and knowledge sharing.<br />

Powell highlighted a need for more joinedup<br />

action around youth co-<strong>op</strong>eration, citing<br />

a “broad lack of coherence regarding youth<br />

and young co-<strong>op</strong>erators”. This, he said,<br />

includes among worker and consumer co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

– exemplified by the fact that Midcounties<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative has its own youth initiative, also<br />

called the Young <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators Network.<br />

The session looked at where the YCN could<br />

go next – from choosing its main activities<br />

to finding ways to broaden engagement and<br />

acquire funding. Participants discussed how the<br />

YCN could help unify different strands of youth<br />

activity across the UK movement.<br />

In another worksh<strong>op</strong>, Manchester sustainable<br />

clothing co-<strong>op</strong> Stitched Up explored the fashion<br />

industry’s impact on the environment. Fashion<br />

accounts for around 10% of greenhouse<br />

emissions from human activity. The session<br />

suggested more sustainable materials, such as<br />

cotton, which has a 50% lower carbon footprint<br />



26 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

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

UK’s first National<br />

Youth Summit<br />

explored how co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

provide “solutions<br />

and h<strong>op</strong>e” to young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le (Images:<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK)<br />





than polyester. Participants were also given<br />

scraps of different textiles and asked to think<br />

about how these might be upcycled.<br />

Meanwhile Ben Proctor, chair of the Scottish<br />

<strong>Co</strong>‐<strong>op</strong> Party, looked at the Bill of Rights<br />

introduced to the UK Parliament in June. The<br />

bill, which repeals and replaces the existing<br />

Human Rights Act 1998, has been criticised<br />

by lawyers and campaigners for leaving some<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le vulnerable to human rights violations.<br />

Participants expressed their views on a range of<br />

issues related to the Bill, such as whether giving<br />

UK courts the final say would be good or bad<br />

or whether free speech should be limited. They<br />

also explored the impact the Bill would have on<br />

refugees, the responsibility of public bodies and<br />

impunity for the armed forces.<br />

The day also featured a worksh<strong>op</strong> with the<br />

Woodcraft Folk, a session on community shares,<br />

a panel discussion about transport in Greater<br />

Manchester, media training from <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

and a look at student housing co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The summit ended with a panel including<br />

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. In<br />

response to the session’s first question, ‘does<br />

democracy work in the UK?’, his answer was,<br />

in short, no. “Our system hands power to an<br />

incredibly small number of pe<strong>op</strong>le who <strong>op</strong>erate<br />

in and around Downing Street and the centre of<br />

government,” he said, arguing that around 100<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in Westminster run the country.<br />

But Hannah Birch, chief <strong>op</strong>erations officer<br />

at Revolver <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, believes politics is not the<br />

only space where democracy can be practiced<br />

“There is a place for democracy in the<br />

workplace,” she said. “I believe pe<strong>op</strong>le should<br />

work towards something that they believe in.”<br />

Birch added that democracy is at the heart<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>s, and highlighted the principle of one<br />

member, one vote.<br />

Shifting focus to local communities, Lenny<br />

Watson, founder of Sister Midnight community<br />

benefit society, advocated a grassroots approach<br />

to social change, “putting power and democracy<br />

back into the hands of ordinary working pe<strong>op</strong>le,<br />

because that’s how we’re going to rebuild wealth<br />

and power in our communities”. She encouraged<br />

the young pe<strong>op</strong>le in the room to join existing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s – and create new ones: “if there’s a thing<br />

that you care about or think your community<br />

needs, start a damn co-<strong>op</strong> and fix it!”<br />

British Youth <strong>Co</strong>uncil trustee Sila Ugurlu said<br />

that learning about co-<strong>op</strong>s has given her h<strong>op</strong>e:<br />

“It’s so amazing to see a group of young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

that are aware of co-<strong>op</strong>s and are actively involved<br />

in them, because I think that they’re going to be<br />

one of the things that helps us in the future.”<br />

Amelia Crews, energy innovation co-ordinator<br />

at Your <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Energy, highlighted the value<br />

of youth to the co-<strong>op</strong> movement – and the<br />

movement’s duty to the next generation. “I<br />

believe that it’s the duty of the leaders in the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> space to give us access where they can<br />

– and when they can’t, for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to<br />

empower young pe<strong>op</strong>le to speak up, because<br />

we’re not going to fight all of these crises with<br />

the same pe<strong>op</strong>le, the same thinking and the<br />

same systems that created them.”<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 27

Offering h<strong>op</strong>e to<br />

FUTURE<br />


By Rebecca Harvey<br />

q Graphic design<br />

graduate Fabio<br />

Cawley<br />

When 25-year-old graphic design graduate Fabio<br />

Cawley joined Chapel Street Studio, a co-<strong>op</strong> of<br />

freelance creatives based in Bradford, it boosted<br />

his confidence and skills – and <strong>op</strong>ened the door<br />

to new career <strong>op</strong>portunities.<br />

“Thanks to being part of this co-<strong>op</strong>, I now see<br />

myself as a graphic designer, instead of just a<br />

graduate,” he said. “I’ve had some challenging<br />

pieces of work and I can see the progression.<br />

That makes me happy. A lot of pe<strong>op</strong>le say they<br />

like my work. You can’t get better than that.”<br />

The lack of decent work is one of several<br />

challenges affecting young pe<strong>op</strong>le in the UK<br />

– along with climate change, the economy,<br />

Brexit, social media and the aftermath of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid pandemic. A lot of these issues have co-<strong>op</strong><br />

solutions, and a new report from UK sector body<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK – featuring stories like Fabio’s<br />

– is making the case for co-<strong>op</strong>eration to a wider<br />

audience.<br />

“With so much in disarray, is it possible to<br />

reach young pe<strong>op</strong>le and help them feel more<br />

secure and actively improve their lives?” it asks.<br />

The answer is a resounding yes, based on the<br />

YouGov research, evidence and case studies<br />

which form the basis of the report. The research<br />

was commissioned by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK last year<br />

to examine the challenges faced by 16 to 25-yearolds<br />

to better understand how co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

organisations can support them now.<br />

The challenges identified by the research<br />

can broadly be grouped into four categories:<br />

mental health; decent work; social inequality<br />

and an increasing digital divide; and social and<br />

environmental problems.<br />

Mental health was the largest issue: in the<br />

survey, 76% of young women and 60% of young<br />

men have faced mental health issues, or know<br />

someone who has. Younger generations also feel<br />

socially isolated due to information overload<br />

and social media – a problem which has only<br />

been exacerbated by <strong>Co</strong>vid.<br />

“Young pe<strong>op</strong>le need to feel a sense of purpose,<br />

belonging and security,” says the report. “Mental<br />

health challenges are not an impossible situation<br />

to improve. The ownership and control co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

offer pe<strong>op</strong>le can and should make a difference.”<br />

Isaac Finn, 22, a third-year economics student<br />

at Loughborough, experience depression in his<br />

first two years. “There was stuff going on in my<br />

life but it was also about the world – <strong>Co</strong>vid, the<br />

climate crisis, everything,” he said. “I got help<br />

from my personal tutor and got counselling.<br />

Then I decided I wanted to help other pe<strong>op</strong>le.”<br />

He came up with the idea of Kocoon – now a<br />

fledgling platform co-<strong>op</strong> created to help young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le understand, manage and improve their<br />

wellbeing, through access to academic research<br />

and signposting to services.<br />

The report also highlights how a decent<br />

working environment can help mental wellbeing.<br />

28 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


THAT 40% OF 16 TO<br />




OF WORK<br />

Steph Rutherford, 29, found purpose and peace<br />

of mind volunteering at Village Greens co-<strong>op</strong><br />

during the pandemic.<br />

“I’ve had struggles with my mental health, so<br />

as much as it was to help out the store, it was also<br />

knowing that I would struggle to live by myself,”<br />

she said. “There’s always a positive energy in<br />

here. It still helps now ... I’ve had a long struggle<br />

with my mental health. And every day I go into<br />

work I come out feeling better, which I know is<br />

incredibly rare; knowing you’ve got a support<br />

network around you.”<br />

One key to engaging young pe<strong>op</strong>le is through<br />

their shared values, says the report. This is<br />

particularly the case with equality. Awareness<br />

of discrimination has increased in recent years<br />

as issues such as unequal pay and unacceptable<br />

behaviour in the workplace have been thrust into<br />

the spotlight alongside the Black Lives Matter,<br />

Me Too and transgender rights campaigns.<br />

“For 16 to 25-year-olds, these are more than<br />

just slogans; they’re personal challenges,” says<br />

the report. The research found that 40% of 16 to<br />

25-year-olds have faced discrimination in and<br />

outside of work, while two thirds of young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

would like to work for a more ethical employer.<br />

The research also found that groups more likely<br />

to face discrimination put greater value on<br />

ethical issues. For example, when considering<br />

careers, a diverse workforce is more important to<br />

young women (51%) than men (33%).<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are built on a shared set of<br />

values and principles – and young pe<strong>op</strong>le are<br />

increasingly looking for good employers who<br />

treat pe<strong>op</strong>le fairly,” the report adds.<br />

One example is web design agency Yalla<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative: with a team based in the UK,<br />

Palestine, Turkey and Germany, international,<br />

anti-prejudicial understanding is crucial.<br />

Founder member Joe Friel said: “<strong>Co</strong>untless times<br />

I’ve spoken to friends who say they’re in a toxic<br />

work culture ... but that isn’t the way co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

work. You are given a voice and allowed to bring<br />

fresh ideas – and the business benefits.”<br />

Many young pe<strong>op</strong>le see tackling climate<br />

change as being essential to building a fairer<br />

world – and half of them want more ethical<br />

employment that takes account of such issues.<br />

But more awareness of co-<strong>op</strong>s is needed if<br />

they are to fulfil their potential to meet these<br />

challenges. “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are slowly gaining<br />

traction with younger pe<strong>op</strong>le,” says the report.<br />

“Our case studies reveal how co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

directly combat the issues affecting younger<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le. A deeper understanding of those issues<br />

and solutions can help co-<strong>op</strong>eratives do more to<br />

transform the lives of an entire generation.”<br />

The report offers a series of recommendations:<br />

raising awareness of co-<strong>op</strong>s through<br />

curricula and careers guidance, ensuring that<br />

entrepreneurial support for young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

includes co-<strong>op</strong> <strong>op</strong>tions, and making government<br />

employment schemes more accessible to co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

It says co-<strong>op</strong>s should work harder to understand<br />

the needs and values of younger consumers<br />

and look for areas of alignment with their own<br />

value offer, while those taking action on issues<br />

like the climate emergency and social justice<br />

should prioritise youth participation. Digital<br />

engagement, communication and employment<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities (through apprenticeships, paid<br />

internships etc) should also be looked at.<br />

“Young pe<strong>op</strong>le are the future of the movement<br />

and the values of Generation Z chime with the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative values,” the report says. “The<br />

movement offers h<strong>op</strong>e and solutions to transform<br />

and enable a fairer future for everyone.”<br />

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

“This is one of the most challenging times to<br />

be a young person in the UK. But there’s h<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

Ownership and control aids mental health and<br />

wellbeing significantly.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives allow young pe<strong>op</strong>le to thrive<br />

in an environment that provides fair wages and<br />

secure jobs, tackles climate change and provides<br />

both educational and personal devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

alongside a sense of belonging.”<br />

p Joe Friel and Steph<br />

Rutherford (left)<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 29


The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation:<br />

building support for young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation is the charity of the UK’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group,<br />

aiming to make the organisation’s vision of ‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erating<br />

for a Fairer World’ a reality. One aspect of this is its work<br />

supporting young pe<strong>op</strong>le – the Foundation has awarded<br />

more than £7m in grants to tackle issues that young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

have told them are important, such as loneliness and mental<br />

wellbeing. Ahead of International Youth Day (12 <strong>August</strong>),<br />

CEO, Nick Crofts, tells us why young pe<strong>op</strong>le are also central<br />

to the Foundation’s new strategy and vision, due to be<br />

released this autumn.<br />



Hi, it’s lovely to talk to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>! I’ve been at the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation for just over 18 months, and the<br />

time has really flown by. For those of you who may<br />

not know, we’re the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group’s charity<br />

and we provide flexible funding to build fairer<br />

and more co-<strong>op</strong>erative communities. Over the<br />

past year and a half this has included: providing<br />

our largest single grant to date, £250k to Refugee<br />

Action; awarding £1.3m to projects tackling carbon<br />

emissions through the Carbon Innovation Fund (see<br />

<strong>News</strong>, p6); and launching a new £700k partnership<br />

with the Astra Foundation to help strengthen the<br />

youth sector.<br />

Young pe<strong>op</strong>le told us they want<br />

to inherit strong communities that<br />

celebrate and value diversity,<br />

equity and inclusion...<br />

So, it’s been quite a year of grant giving. Prior<br />

to this, readers may remember me as the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group’s Member <strong>Co</strong>uncil president, which I was<br />

proud to serve as for six years.<br />



It’s been a whirlwind, but a really fun one. I wasn’t<br />

a grant maker by trade when I arrived, so I’ve had<br />

to learn a lot and I’d like to thank my colleagues for<br />

everything they’ve done to get me up to speed. But<br />

we’ve done so much more than just deliver grants.<br />

Over the past 18 months, new expertise has come<br />

into our team, we’ve redefined what it means to be<br />

a funder with a co-<strong>op</strong>erative difference, and we’ve<br />

thought long and hard about how that relates to<br />

our internal culture, too.<br />

But, most excitingly, we’ve also been building<br />

a new strategy with co-<strong>op</strong>eration and youth voice<br />

right at the heart.<br />


We started working on this in July 2021 with our<br />

partners at Impact Works Associates and it’s been a<br />

truly co-<strong>op</strong>erative exercise. We’ve collaborated with<br />

Foundation colleagues, trustees, funded partners<br />

30 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group leaders to imagine how we<br />

can best deliver on the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s vision of ‘<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erating<br />

for a Fairer World’.<br />

I’m really excited that our new direction will see<br />

us fund individuals and organisations that will<br />

create future communities in 10 years’ time that are<br />

fair and built on co-<strong>op</strong>erative values.<br />

It’s bold and it’s brave, but there’s another layer.<br />

We recognise that today’s young pe<strong>op</strong>le will be the<br />

ones who will inherit the communities we h<strong>op</strong>e<br />

to build. So, we’ve been asking them what our<br />

future vision should be, and how we can turn it<br />

into reality.<br />


Through focus groups and chats on WhatsApp.<br />

We held 10 focus groups in total, both online<br />

and in-person. The first four focus groups were<br />

<strong>op</strong>en discussions where young pe<strong>op</strong>le imagined<br />

their future communities. We then delved more<br />

deeply into the t<strong>op</strong>ics young pe<strong>op</strong>le said really<br />

mattered in the remaining sessions and through<br />

message prompts on WhatsApp. Importantly, we<br />

compensated young pe<strong>op</strong>le for their time with<br />

bursaries. Their insight is helping us, after all.<br />



We learned so much and I’m humbled by the<br />

amazing insight from all our participants.<br />

Young pe<strong>op</strong>le told us they want to inherit strong<br />

communities that celebrate and value diversity,<br />

equity and inclusion, and where pe<strong>op</strong>le work<br />

together to tackle local challenges.<br />

They also want sustainable communities full of<br />

green spaces, where infrastructure enables green<br />

living and environmentally friendly practices<br />

are supported by government and implemented<br />

by businesses.<br />

They want fair communities, where they<br />

have income stability, affordable homes and<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities to learn and work, and they want<br />

healthy and safe communities where pe<strong>op</strong>le work<br />

together to protect well-being. And finally, young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le want us to build future communities where<br />

they will have voice, power and influence to share<br />

their co-<strong>op</strong>erative vision.<br />

We’re going to take this learning and build it<br />

into our future work plans. We’ll also share our<br />

vision and report with other funders and charities<br />

to support their work, too. That’s the power of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration.<br />


We’re looking to launch our new strategy and first<br />

fund this autumn. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> readers can find out<br />

more by signing up to our blog (co<strong>op</strong>foundation.<br />

org.uk/blog) and following us on Twitter<br />

(@co<strong>op</strong>_foundation). We’d love to hear pe<strong>op</strong>le’s<br />

thoughts as well, so don’t be shy. Email us at<br />

foundation@co<strong>op</strong>.co.uk if you have any questions<br />

about our work.<br />

p The Foundation<br />

runs youth projects<br />

with partners such as<br />

Envision (t<strong>op</strong>) and the<br />

Greater Manchester<br />

Youth Network<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 31

By Anca Voinea<br />

Known for its oranges, Moorish architecture<br />

and flamenco dancing, Andalusia (in<br />

Spanish Andalucía) is the autonomous<br />

community with the largest number of co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in Spain (over 4,000), in which the<br />

most employment is generated (59,000 jobs).<br />

On 21 June I joined other ICA General Assembly<br />

delegates on a short trip to two Andalusian co<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The tours were organised by COCETA, the<br />

Spanish confederation of worker co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

Here we were welcomed by Francesco Garcea,<br />

the training and projects coordinator of the<br />

school. In line with Spain’s coffee culture and<br />

great hospitality, we were offered coffee and<br />

refreshments before proceeding with the visit.<br />

Garcea told us about the history of the building<br />

where the school is based – a beautiful 17th<br />

century former abbey, which served as military<br />

quarters for Napoleon’s army when it invaded<br />

Spain, before becoming a hospital.<br />

How<br />



are shaping current and future leaders<br />

u The former abbey<br />

where the Social<br />

Economy School is<br />

based<br />

We left Seville at 9am, and despite it being a<br />

hot, dry summer day, the temperature was only<br />

a little over 20°C when we set off.<br />

One of the greatest advantages of attending<br />

events in person is being able to meet co<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

from around the world. While on the<br />

coach I got to catch up with old friends and make<br />

new ones.<br />

The first st<strong>op</strong> was the Social Economy School<br />

(Escuela de la Economia Social) in Osuna, a town<br />

and municipality in the province of Seville. By<br />

the time we reached the school the temperature<br />

had reached +30°C.<br />

By the 1990s the building was abandoned but<br />

Faecta, the Andalusian federation of worker co<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

has since restored it and secured the local<br />

council’s permission to use it over the next<br />

50 years. In order to benefit the region, Faecta<br />

established the social economy school for<br />

businesses in the area.<br />

“This year we are celebrating our 20th<br />

anniversary,” said Garcea. Since being set up,<br />

the school has expanded to provide courses for<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators in other regions and countries.<br />

They offer training for directors and<br />

professionals from co-<strong>op</strong>s and the wider social<br />

economy, support entrepreneurs who want to set<br />

up co-<strong>op</strong>s via a six-month incubator programme,<br />

campaign to raise awareness of the social<br />

economy via a range of events, and advocate for<br />

the sector.<br />

The school also places a strong emphasis on<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le sharing common spaces and exchanging<br />

<strong>op</strong>inions and experiences.<br />

“We believe in social learning. In addition to<br />

having a great team of trainers and educators,<br />

what makes a difference is having pe<strong>op</strong>le on the<br />

school premises while they study here,” said<br />

Garcea. “We believe that pe<strong>op</strong>le learn from one<br />

another when they are together.”<br />

As an important community space for the<br />

village, the school also hosts various events<br />

by local groups, social economy actors or<br />

political parties.<br />

32 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

The school is run by the Andalusian School<br />

of Social Economy Foundation, whose trustees<br />

include representatives of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative and<br />

social economy sector.<br />

With time being limited we were not able to<br />

stay in Osuna for too long. We were soon back<br />

on the coach making our way to the Al Jarafe<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege in Mairena del Aljarafe, a municipality<br />

in the province of Seville.<br />

Established in 1970, the college is run by a<br />

workers’ co-<strong>op</strong>erative owned by its teachers<br />

and employees. It has over 2,000 students<br />

and it <strong>op</strong>erates based on three main pillars –<br />

sustainability, historical memory and pedagogic<br />

innovation.<br />

This includes educating pupils on the meaning<br />

of freedom, looking at the country’s past and<br />

Franco’s regime and seeking to form adults that<br />

will change the world.<br />

“We think that this is the best thing we<br />

can give to them – devel<strong>op</strong>ing their critical<br />

thinking,” said one of the teachers at the college<br />

who showed us around.<br />

Another distinctive feature of the college’s<br />

pedagogic style is its emphasis on <strong>op</strong>en spaces –<br />

the building in which it is based was designed by<br />

architect Antonio Miró in such a way to ensure<br />

all classes are in <strong>op</strong>en spaces, including via an<br />

<strong>op</strong>en space amphitheatre.<br />

Sustainable initiatives include planting trees<br />

and installing solar panels.<br />

Pupils get involved in deciding what interests<br />

to pursue and teachers help them achieve their<br />

ambitions by designing classes that suit them.<br />

They are also given books, learning materials<br />

and stationary supplies, which they have to<br />

share. In doing so, they learn to work together<br />

and manage supplies. <strong>Co</strong>urses include drama,<br />

painting and music classes.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative employs 70 pe<strong>op</strong>le, 58 of<br />

whom are members. Any teachers can join if<br />

they pass a selection process.<br />

Meanwhile, surpluses are reinvested into the<br />

school for the benefit of the local community.<br />

Parents do not have to pay a fixed tuition fee<br />

but instead contribute as much as they want<br />

to the school. This enables those from less well<br />

off families to study at the school. The college<br />

has students of different backgrounds, bringing<br />

together those from disadvantaged areas and<br />

those from affluent neighbourhoods.<br />

Some funding comes from the government,<br />

which pays for the teachers’ salaries. The college<br />

also runs its own foundation, through which it<br />

is able to attract additional funding. And there<br />

is an association of parents, which also makes<br />

donations.<br />

Another way the co-<strong>op</strong> is trying to attract<br />

money is by holding events – it recently<br />

organised a jazz festival, which attracted the<br />

attention of local personalities.<br />

With pupils starting at the school at the age<br />

of three, the college plays a key role in forming<br />

them, particularly those who choose to stay with<br />

the school until they are 18.<br />

Our visit ended with a tour of the classes<br />

and common areas, following which we got<br />

back on the coach – this time heading to the<br />

conference venue.<br />

The visits were an eye-<strong>op</strong>ening experience –<br />

showing what can be achieved when there is a<br />

strong co-<strong>op</strong>erative culture and support from the<br />

local co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement.<br />


IS RUN BY A<br />

WORKERS’<br />





p (Clockwise from<br />

t<strong>op</strong> left) Classes often<br />

take place outside;<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators visiting the<br />

college; the college has<br />

an <strong>op</strong>en space layout<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 33



By Alice Toomer-<br />

McAlpine and<br />

Rebecca Harvey<br />

q Left: Dr Dianne<br />

Regisford, Cllr Jabu<br />

Nala-Hartley and<br />

Simon Grove-White<br />

(Image: Rebecca<br />

Harvey); Right: The<br />

festival took place at<br />

Selgars Mill in Devon<br />

– sponsors included<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncils Innovation<br />

Network (CCIN) and<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing<br />

(CCH) (Image: Peter<br />

Millson/Stir to Action)<br />

On land surrounding the 19th century Selgars<br />

Mill in Devon’s Culm Valley, a group of thinkers,<br />

changemakers and co-<strong>op</strong>erators gathered for<br />

three days of sharing and learning around the<br />

idea of the “new economy”.<br />

Offering a blend of discussions, worksh<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

wellbeing activities, live music and spoken word,<br />

Stir to Action’s annual festival, Playground for<br />

the New Economy, gave attendees a chance to<br />

step out of their regular routines and connect<br />

with nature and one another to learn, share and<br />

reflect on what a new economy could look like,<br />

and how we might get there.<br />

The festival’s talks and worksh<strong>op</strong>s ranged<br />

from practical examples of the new economy in<br />

action, to broad academic debates that offered a<br />

context to place those case studies in.<br />

In his talk, entitled The End of ‘the End of<br />

History’: Politics in the twenty-first century?,<br />

George Hoare outlined a historical backdr<strong>op</strong> for<br />

some of the ideas being explored at the festival.<br />

He argued that the period between 1989 and<br />

2016 had been marked by a depoliticisation of<br />

society, until this system broke down amid the<br />

events of Brexit and Trumpism, leading to the<br />

period of “antipolitics” – which is where we now<br />

find ourselves.<br />

Stir to Action co-founder, Jonathan Gordon-<br />

Farleigh, also explored this, looking at how efforts<br />

to take economics outside politics has “created<br />

some paradoxical alliances and interventions,<br />

such as efforts to make capitalism more creative or<br />

conscious or compassionate” – which in his view<br />

“is only exacerbating the crisis of democracy”.<br />

But he believes there are reasons to be<br />

<strong>op</strong>timistic. Gordon-Farleigh described recent<br />

efforts to position the new economy within the<br />

wider political economy “by overturning the depoliticisation<br />

of our work [and] understanding<br />

that what we do sits within complex<br />

relationships between the individual and the<br />

local and national economy”.<br />

The festival presented real life examples of<br />

the new economy in action, from community-led<br />

housing and socially just food systems to worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s and democratic finance. Over the three<br />

days, conversations on how such projects grow<br />

and devel<strong>op</strong> focused on three main areas: the<br />

need for funding, physical space, and time for<br />

projects to grow and devel<strong>op</strong>.<br />

34 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

Intertwined with these seeds of what a new<br />

economy might look like were conversations<br />

about how it can grow as a whole. In many cases,<br />

the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ were inextricable.<br />

For example, in a session on education, Dr<br />

Kiri Langmead, senior lecturer at Nottingham<br />

Business School, highlighted how “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

education is as much about the way we teach as<br />

what we teach.” Despite being a key principle<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>eration, it was acknowledged that co<strong>op</strong><br />

education is severely lacking in the UK –<br />

particularly in conventional business education,<br />

which generally ignores co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The need for greater, more joined up<br />

collaboration among institutions and with<br />

communities was also explored, with examples<br />

from London, Totnes, Oxford and more.<br />

In one session, Dr Dianne Regisford, Cllr<br />

Jabu Nala-Hartley and Simon Grove-White<br />

described how Owned by Oxford is linking with<br />

the city council to build community wealth<br />

from the ground up, through the intersection<br />

of institutions, education and problem solving.<br />

In the Barton area of the city, fuel poverty is<br />

exacerbated by low-quality, badly insulated<br />

housing. In response, the Barton retrofit co-<strong>op</strong><br />

is working with local tradespe<strong>op</strong>le to identify<br />

houses to retrofit – while training local pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

in those trades at the same time. “It empowers<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to be part of doing something about their<br />

environment,” said Nala-Hartley.<br />

Housing, the environment, leadership and<br />

diversity were all on the agenda, as was placebased<br />

action. A session called Empowering<br />

places furthest from power shared insights from a<br />

five-year Power to Change-funded project, which<br />

supported existing community organisations<br />

acting as catalysts for new community businesses<br />

in six areas. Place-based investment manager<br />

at Power to Change, Bonnie Hewson, said her<br />

key takeaway from the project was to “not<br />

underestimate the ambition, grit and political<br />

savvy of the organisations <strong>op</strong>erating in areas<br />

branded as deprived by the establishment”.<br />

Ed Whitelaw, head of enterprise and<br />

regeneration for Real Ideas, one of Empowering<br />

Places’ community anchors based in Plymouth,<br />

said the economic challenges facing the city<br />

mean there is already an appetite for change,<br />

making it fertile ground for such work.<br />

This sentiment was reflected in a session on<br />

community tech, and how it is working in social<br />

care, food delivery and local media. Fergus<br />

Arkley, digital innovation manager at Power<br />

to Change, explained that community tech<br />

initiatives have often come out of crises – “when<br />

something has gone wrong, or something isn’t<br />

right, or things are collapsing”.<br />

The importance of emotional work was<br />

recognised in a number of conversations during<br />

the festival, such as a panel on Family Farm<br />

Succession and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Ownership. Sebastian<br />

Parsons, founder of Stockwood <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Benefit Society which owns Rush Farm in<br />

Worcestershire, said: “Land is an emotional<br />

thing. Pe<strong>op</strong>le make emotional relationships with<br />

land. And family farmers, generally speaking,<br />

are not very versed in communicating their<br />

feelings. So when you’re building a project team,<br />

you do need financial expertise and pe<strong>op</strong>le who<br />

can galvanise that community, but you also need<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le who are emotionally intelligent, who can<br />

understand what’s actually going on.”<br />

There was also an acknowledgement of<br />

the emotional toll of working in social and<br />

community sectors. “What we’re experiencing<br />

on the ground is sheer exhaustion,” said one<br />

attendee. “We need safe spaces such as this to<br />

connect with like-minded activists.”<br />

The emotional connection with the big<br />

ideas being discussed at the festival, and the<br />

wellbeing of attendees, was addressed through<br />

a combination of physical and wellbeing<br />

activities, from one-to-one personal support and<br />

solidarity sessions to a games area and sauna,<br />

exercise sessions and live entertainment.<br />

The setting, discussions, debates, worksh<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and representation (both in terms of speakers<br />

and festival-goers) reflected the kind of economy<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement has long advocated<br />

– where value is considered differently.<br />

“The new economy is about trust,” said Tom<br />

Carman from Stir to Action and Shared Assets.<br />

“It’s about building structures, processes and a<br />

culture where we all trust one another. So it’s<br />

about trust – and kindness.”<br />

THE NEW<br />


IS ABOUT<br />




AND A<br />


WHERE<br />

WE ALL<br />



p Festival-goers at<br />

the <strong>2022</strong> Playground<br />

for the New Economy<br />

(Image: Peter Millson/<br />

Stir to Action)<br />

Watch the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>News</strong> videos from<br />

the festival at<br />

bit.ly/3omwiqD<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 35

THE <strong>2022</strong> WORLD<br />



By Anca Voinea<br />

p Rafal Matusiak<br />

speaking at the<br />

World Credit Union<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

Over 1,600 credit union practitioners met in Glasgow<br />

last month for the annual conference of the World<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit Unions (Woccu), hosted this year<br />

by the Association of British Credit Unions (Abcul).<br />

Welcoming delegates, Woccu chair Rafal<br />

Matusiak (Poland) talked about the huge<br />

challenges facing the world, from the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

pandemic to remote work and the war in Ukraine<br />

– with delegates holding a minute’s silence in the<br />

memory of those killed in the conflict.<br />

Matusiak said global challenges mean credit<br />

unions are more important than ever. “No<br />

technology can replace real community,” he added.<br />

“Thank you for being there.”<br />

He also acknowledged the role of credit unions<br />

in the Solidarity movement in Poland, which led to<br />

the fall of its communist regime. The Polish credit<br />

union sector is celebrating its 30th anniversary.<br />

Abcul president Paul Norgrove thanked credit<br />

unions for their response to <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and for<br />

supporting their members. “You and your teams<br />

proved the co-<strong>op</strong>erative service strong,” he said.<br />

Norgrove is an alumnus of Woccu’s Young<br />

Credit Union Professionals (Wycup) scholarship<br />

programme, and talked about the need to invest in<br />

new talent, support the next generation of credit<br />

union leaders and encourage those leaders to share<br />

their knowledge.<br />

Glasgow city councillor Bailie James Scanlon<br />

highlighted his council’s work to encourage young<br />

savers to use credit unions, by giving them £10<br />

savings accounts, and Mike Reuter, executive<br />

director of Woccu’s Worldwide Foundation for Credit<br />

Unions, provided an overview of the organisation’s<br />

Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund, which<br />

has to date raised US$1.4m (€1.3m, £1.1m) from<br />

over 1,600 donors. The fund will be used to support<br />

immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts.<br />

“To our fund donors and their institutions, thank<br />

you,” said Reuter. “Even amid war, credit unions<br />

stand strong, serving as financial first responders<br />

to those in need.”<br />

Addressing the conference via video message, the<br />

deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine,<br />

Sergiy Nikolaychuk, talked about the challenges<br />

faced by the country’s 190 credit unions. He said<br />

the bank has ad<strong>op</strong>ted a new law on credit unions<br />

to expand the list of pe<strong>op</strong>le who can join and the<br />

products and services they can offer.<br />

“Today, 20 credit unions are located in the<br />

territories temporarily occupied (by Russia) since<br />

24 February, while 17 credit unions are in combat<br />

zones, and another 34 do not perform any activities<br />

because staff have evacuated,” he said, thanking<br />

representatives of the global credit union system<br />

who donated to the fund.<br />

Future-readiness<br />

“Are credit unions future-ready?” was the theme of<br />

the <strong>op</strong>ening keynote, with thought leader Ian Khan<br />

offering tips on how credit unions can prepare for<br />

the 5th industrial revolution.<br />

36 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

u (From t<strong>op</strong>)<br />

Belinda Parmar, Ian<br />

Khan and Keren Elazari<br />

Predicting a coming era where artificial<br />

intelligence (AI) will automate everything, he<br />

encouraged credit unions to think about the impact<br />

this will have on their business.<br />

Khan is best known for creating the Future<br />

Readiness Score, an organisational metric to<br />

measure and achieve future-readiness. He told<br />

delegates that “future readiness is about adapting<br />

to change”. He also encouraged credit unions to<br />

speak to vendors and providers to figure out how<br />

algorithms can impact their services and can<br />

shorten their processes, adding that “algorithms<br />

can do wonders when it comes to customer service”.<br />

Other trends credit unions should keep an eye<br />

on are decentralisation, tokenisation and tech<br />

convergence, he said. “You need to strive to become<br />

more future-ready,” he added, advising delegates<br />

to consult the may resources available to help them<br />

assess their future-readiness.<br />

NOW IS THE<br />

TIME TO<br />


EVOLVE,<br />

BUILD<br />

YOUR OWN<br />


IMMUNE<br />


TO KEEP<br />

CALM AND<br />

CARRY ON<br />

Cyber-security<br />

Delegates also heard from Keren Elazari – security<br />

analyst, author and researcher – who provided<br />

a glimpse into the future of cyber security from a<br />

friendly hacker’s perspective.<br />

“We all need to take responsibility for our<br />

security,” she told attendees, adding that <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

had not slowed down cyber-security issues.<br />

Elazari warned that expanding digital universe<br />

brings more <strong>op</strong>portunities for hackers – but added<br />

there are also more tools that can help credit unions<br />

prevent such attacks.<br />

This includes Shodan, a search engine that<br />

can identity liable connected devices, and<br />

Haveibeenpawned.com, which allows pe<strong>op</strong>le to<br />

check whether their usernames and passwords<br />

have been leaked. Using a two-factor authentication<br />

makes passwords safer as does using unique,<br />

longer passwords. Ensuring applications and<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating systems are up to date also helps, while<br />

independent security researchers can assist credit<br />

unions in understand vulnerabilities.<br />

She also advocated working with friendly<br />

hackers to improve cyber-security. “Now is the<br />

time to adapt and evolve, build your own digital<br />

immune system, not to keep calm and carry on.”<br />

The importance of empathy in service<br />

What does it mean to be empathetic? And how<br />

can acting with empathy improve leadership in an<br />

organisation? These were some of the questions<br />

addressed by Belinda Parmar, CEO of the Empathy<br />

Business, in her keynote speech.<br />

“Empathy (understanding the feelings of another<br />

without necessarily sharing them) is not about<br />

talking but acting,” she said.<br />

Despite being perceived as a commercial tradeoff,<br />

empathy can be a tool to drive commercial<br />

results. Empathetic companies are able to better<br />

serve members and employees, said Parmar, while<br />

also being more profitable.<br />

Another myth around empathy is that it is an<br />

innate feature. According to Parmar, research<br />

suggests that only 50% of abilities are genetic, with<br />

the other half based on environment. This means<br />

that companies rewarding employees for being<br />

empathetic could help drive empathy within.<br />

Her advice for credit unions included avoiding<br />

corporate, dehumanising words (such as<br />

“<strong>op</strong>timise”, “mobilise” or “authorise”), and<br />

looking at customer service, recruitment and call<br />

scripts through the lens of empathy. “You have to<br />

institutionalise empathy,” she said,“You are a force<br />

for good and empathy is a big part of that. If ever<br />

the world needed pe<strong>op</strong>le like you it is now.”<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 37


by Elissa McCarter LaBorde<br />

board member since 2016. She will serve as chair<br />

for a one-year term, until July 2023. Thanking<br />

delegates for the honour, she said: “I really look<br />

forward to working with you in the coming year.”<br />

Dykstra succeeds Rafał Matusiak, president of<br />

the National Association of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Savings<br />

and Credit Unions (NACSCU) of Poland, who has<br />

been serving as Woccu chair since 2020.<br />

The AGM also re-elected current Woccu board<br />

directors Manfred Dasenbrock (Brazil), Charles<br />

Murphy (Ireland), George Ototo (Kenya), Joseph<br />

Remy (Caribbean), Dallas Bergl (USA), Joe Thomas<br />

(USA) and Michael Lawrence (Australia) to twoyear<br />

terms.<br />

Newly elected Jeff Guthrie, the new president<br />

and CEO of the Canadian Credit Union Association<br />

(CCUA), will also serve a two-year term. He replaces<br />

outgoing CCUA president and CEO Martha Durdin.<br />

Awards for digital innovation<br />

p Elissa McCarter<br />

LaBorde delivers her<br />

speech (Image: Woccu)<br />

Woccu president and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde<br />

delivered her first state of the movement address on<br />

day one of the World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference.<br />

“If we really want to maximise our potential we<br />

have to focus on our strengths, we have to double<br />

down on our strengths,” she said.<br />

She said those strengths include the sheer<br />

number of credit unions and members, the diverse<br />

types of credit union, and their potential to act as<br />

disrupters in the financial services sector.<br />

“Some of you have heard this expression – you<br />

gotta go big or you gotta go home,” she added. “So,<br />

I really think we gotta go big.”<br />

McCarter LaBorde pointed out that there are still<br />

1.4 billion pe<strong>op</strong>le in the world who are unbanked<br />

– and arguably another “three billion, in the data<br />

I have seen, who are underbanked, who don’t have<br />

good financial choices and affordable credit.<br />

“That is why we are here as credit unions, with<br />

a business model that truly serves that purpose.”<br />

Annual general meeting<br />

Alongside the conference, Woccu hosted its AGM<br />

on 18 July, where Diana Dykstra was appointed the<br />

organisation’s chair.<br />

Dykstra is CEO of the California and Nevada<br />

Credit Union Leagues (USA) and has been a Woccu<br />

During the AGM, Woccu presented the <strong>2022</strong> Digital<br />

Growth Awards, first introduced in 2021.<br />

Northpark <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Credit Union (USA)<br />

received an award its Virtual Branching initiative,<br />

which was devel<strong>op</strong>ed and implemented to deliver<br />

on a goal of closing all brick-and-mortar branches<br />

in favour of e-services and ATMs.<br />

“We cannot underserve the underserved and we<br />

have to meet them where they are,” said president<br />

and CEO Carma Parrish, accepting the award. “I<br />

have so much respect for meeting pe<strong>op</strong>le where<br />

they are, not where we are.”<br />

Another award went to Sicredi (Brazil) for CPR<br />

Facil, its first 100% digital agribusiness product,<br />

which allows members to take out loans using a<br />

mobile phone.<br />

“CPR Facil is making such a difference to build<br />

a better society and also changing our members’<br />

lives. We h<strong>op</strong>e that this case can be spread to<br />

other credit unions down the road,” said Estefane<br />

Chaves, a rural credit analyst who accepted the<br />

award on behalf of Sicredi.<br />

Distinguished Service Award<br />

Woccu also presented Marshall Boutwell, president<br />

and CEO, Peach State Federal Credit Union (USA),<br />

with the <strong>2022</strong> Distinguished Service Award,<br />

recognising his long history of engagement with<br />

credit unions in Poland and Great Britain.<br />

38 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

Speaking of his experience working with credit<br />

unions in other countries, he said: “This has been<br />

the most extraordinary experience in my lifetime. It<br />

has broadened my horizons, it’s made me a better<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative leader, a better leader of my own<br />

credit union — more <strong>op</strong>en to lots of different pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

from lots of different areas. And this is indeed a<br />

great honour”.<br />

Women’s Leadership Forum and Athena Award<br />

On 16 July, Woccu’s Global Women’s Leadership<br />

Network (GWLN) Forum brought together women<br />

credit union leaders to explore a range of t<strong>op</strong>ics<br />

around leadership.<br />

Laurie Maddalena, chief leadership consultant,<br />

Envision Excellence, LLC, encouraged women<br />

credit union leaders to promote themselves and<br />

their worth in the workplace.<br />

“I like to turn to what I call my inner coach and<br />

not let my inner critic make the decisions,” she<br />

told the forum. “Our inner coach is that wiser self.<br />

I like to call it our higher self, our best self, who has<br />

our best interest in mind in helping us reach our<br />

personal and professional goals.”<br />

At the forum, McCarter LaBorde announced Patsy<br />

Van Ouwerkerk as the <strong>2022</strong> Athena Award recipient.<br />

Named after the Greek goddess who represents<br />

strength, courage and wisdom, the award is<br />

presented to an individual or organisation making<br />

an outstanding contribution to women’s leadership<br />

in the international credit union movement.<br />

Van Ouwerkerk sat on the inaugural advisory<br />

group that launched GWLN in 2009, chaired its<br />

fundraising committee chair and served as coleader<br />

of the Sacramento Sister Society.<br />

Young scholarships<br />

The Woccu Young Credit Union Professionals<br />

(Wycup) set up its scholarship programme in 2001<br />

to enable young credit union professionals to<br />

attend its conference.<br />

The programme is <strong>op</strong>en to nominees aged 40 or<br />

younger who have made significant contributions<br />

to their credit union or financial co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

system and have the potential to make a global<br />

credit union impact.<br />

The winners of the 2020 and 2021 scholarships<br />

were recognised during the final general session of<br />

the conference on 20 July.<br />

“It’s more important than ever before that we<br />

invest in our networks — that we have spaces<br />

to share and learn from one another, and in the<br />

process understand that we have more in common<br />

than our superficial differences,” said Wycup<br />

director Thomas Belekevich.<br />

“We have a shared interest in the success of<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le everywhere,” . “So today we are here to<br />

celebrate young leaders from around the world<br />

and the connections they have made through this<br />

global network that we call Wycup.”<br />

p Clockwise from t<strong>op</strong><br />

left: Carma Parrish<br />

accepts a Digital Growth<br />

Award for Northpark<br />

CCU; Marshall Boutwell;<br />

Wycup scholarships;<br />

Patsy Van Ouwerkerk;<br />

officlal recognition for<br />

the Wycup scholarship<br />

recipients<br />

(Images: Woccu)<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 39


CONUNDRUM...<br />

By Rebecca Harvey<br />

p Crédit Agricole's<br />

headquarters In<br />

Montrouge, France.<br />

Crédit Agricole is the<br />

largest co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

bank in Eur<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

(Image: Chesnot/<br />

Getty Images)<br />

...and the <strong>Co</strong>mmon Good<br />

The capital conundrum has plagued co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

for decades: how can pe<strong>op</strong>le wanting to set up<br />

member-owned organisations find the start-up<br />

capital they need when there is no – or very little<br />

– return for investors?<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity share offers, GoFundMe<br />

campaigns and grants go some way to addressing<br />

this, but not to the level required for a growing,<br />

robust co-<strong>op</strong> movement, particularly in highly<br />

regulated sectors such as banking.<br />

At the <strong>2022</strong> UK <strong>Co</strong>ngress, held in Birmingham<br />

at the end of June, Tony Greenham of the Mutual<br />

Banks Association (MBA) and Cliff Mills of<br />

Anthony <strong>Co</strong>llins Solicitors shared work they have<br />

been doing in this area: attempting to devel<strong>op</strong> a<br />

new legal structure they h<strong>op</strong>e will address some<br />

of the obstacles facing any attempt to set up a<br />

genuinely co-<strong>op</strong>erative bank.<br />

“The UK banking system is weird,” said<br />

Greenham. “It’s weird because it doesn’t have<br />

socially orientated local banks when almost<br />

everywhere in the world does. I’ve been trying<br />

to set one up … it’s turned out to be quite hard.”<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e has 2,700 co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks with 87<br />

million members; the UK is the only G7 economy<br />

without them. This is a problem, said Greenham,<br />

because regional stakeholder banks deliver<br />

significant benefits. “They offer greater financial<br />

inclusion and do more small business and co<strong>op</strong><br />

economy lending. Where they exist there are<br />

smaller regional economic disparities – and they<br />

create more resilient economies.”<br />

The MBA is a trade association – “without any<br />

members that are actually trading yet” – formed<br />

by Southwest Mutual, Avon Mutual and Bristol<br />

Mutual with support from the Esmée Fairbairn<br />

Foundation and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK.<br />

Why are they calling it them ‘mutual banks’<br />

rather than ‘co-<strong>op</strong>erative’? “There are a couple<br />

of reasons,” said Greenham. “Firstly, the word<br />

‘mutual’ is really familiar in financial services.<br />

And secondly, there’s a certain other UK bank<br />

with the word co-<strong>op</strong>erative in its name, which is<br />

a bit confusing, because it isn’t one, and never<br />

was one. Actually, there never have been co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

banks in this country in the way that<br />

have been elsewhere.”<br />

Which Act to follow?<br />

Most co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in the UK are registered under<br />

the 2014 <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Benefit<br />

40 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

Society Act – but although there are some explicit<br />

provisions around banks, there are some serious<br />

problems when it comes to implementation in<br />

this sector. “The share capital that [banks] are<br />

allowed to use must be non-withdrawable and<br />

transferable,” said Greenham. “We can’t use<br />

community shares for a bank because it has to<br />

be a form of permanent capital.”<br />

He added: “The real problem we found is that<br />

with an early stage start-up, we needed to attract<br />

initial investment, which is very risky. I raised<br />

a million pounds off investors who have had<br />

to take a massive punt and they quite possibly<br />

won’t get any of that money back.<br />

“Then we’d need to raise about another £2-3m<br />

before even getting to the point where we could<br />

start trading with a banking licence. That’s also<br />

really risky money.<br />

“You also can’t simply go along to that first<br />

cr<strong>op</strong> of investors and say that they are going<br />

to get the same deal that the final investors are<br />

going to get, because nobody would invest in it.<br />

But the Financial <strong>Co</strong>nduct Authority (FCA) has<br />

confirmed that the 2014 act doesn’t allow shares<br />

issued at different prices; they have to be issued<br />

at nominal value. That’s a massive barrier.”<br />

The way the MBA tackled this barrier was to<br />

look at other registration <strong>op</strong>tions – specifically<br />

using the <strong>Co</strong>mpanies Act while also attempting<br />

to be a full mutual. “My aspiration is that it<br />

would be recognised by the co-<strong>op</strong> movement as<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erly co-<strong>op</strong>erative,” said Greenham.<br />

He added that while financial institutions<br />

such as credit unions do good work, they “don’t<br />

really do business lending … they’re doing a<br />

different job from regional co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks”.<br />

A question of purpose<br />

The next challenge was that if the <strong>Co</strong>mpanies<br />

Act was used, how could someone make sure<br />

they didn’t end up with an organisation that<br />

defaults to maximising profit?<br />

“We needed something which is clearly<br />

different and sets it apart,” said Mills,<br />

who specialises in constitutions and legal<br />

structures.<br />

“The <strong>Co</strong>mpanies Act defines the purpose of a<br />

company as for the benefit of the shareholders<br />

as a whole, and a duty to promote the success of<br />

the company, which is for the private benefit of<br />

shareholders.<br />

“However, there is a subsection in the act<br />

which says if there is some other ‘purpose’, the<br />

duties of the directors are then to pursue that<br />

other purpose. So we’ve written into our purpose<br />

that it exists for the common good, not for the<br />

private benefit of its members. That changes the<br />

default setting of a company”.<br />

If the directors’ duties are to promote the<br />

common good, how can they be held accountable<br />

by the members? MBA’s solution is to make it a<br />

multi stakeholder organisation which recognises<br />

that workers, customers and investors all have<br />

legitimate interest in its success.<br />

The model pr<strong>op</strong>oses three classes of<br />

membership; only one of them, the investor<br />

shares, will actually be used for attracting<br />

capital, while the worker and customer shares<br />

are there to defer voting rights.<br />

The next challenge was how to embed<br />

democratic governance in such an entity –<br />

when, by the regulator’s decree, the board must<br />

be selected for their skills in running a bank.<br />

“There is no space for directly elected member<br />

representatives on the board at the moment,”<br />

said Greenham. “It might be possible in the<br />

future, but we’re trying to do a lot of new and<br />

regulators don’t like new.”<br />

Their solution is to devel<strong>op</strong> a members’<br />

council system – 20 or so members elected in<br />

“a vibrant democratic process” that “get up<br />

close and personal with what their managers are<br />

doing, and hold them to account”.<br />

Mills believes this is groundbreaking. “We’re<br />

creating a plc that will attract investment – but<br />

not for the purpose of maximising the benefit for<br />

those investors – because of this new purpose,<br />

and also because those investors will not have<br />

complete control as there are other member<br />

classes and it’s one member, one vote.”<br />

EUROPE<br />

HAS<br />

2,700 CO-<br />


BANKS<br />

WITH 87<br />


MEMBERS;<br />

THE UK<br />

IS THE<br />

ONLY G7<br />



THEM<br />

p Tony Greenham<br />

(left) and Cliff Mills<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 41

By Miles Hadfield<br />

US credit unions ramp<br />

up bank acquisitions<br />

With turbulent economic forces<br />

piling pressure on small financial<br />

institutions, consolidation is a growing<br />

trend in the US financial services sector. While<br />

this has brought many mergers between credit<br />

unions, another outcome is the record number<br />

of purchases of banks by credit unions.<br />

The emphasis is still on consolidation within<br />

the sector: the National Credit Union Association<br />

Credit Union, told delegates that mergers,<br />

acquisitions and private partnerships are a<br />

valuable mechanism for US credit unions to<br />

grow the scale and the raise capital they need<br />

to keep up with digitisation and increasingly<br />

competitive markets.<br />

He said his credit union has already bought<br />

one small single-site bank and is preparing<br />

to buy another, as part of a strategy that<br />

includes devel<strong>op</strong>ing a crypto-currency <strong>op</strong>tion,<br />

partnerships with fintechs, devel<strong>op</strong>ing holding<br />

companies and sharing back office functions<br />

with other credit unions.<br />

But it is important to plan things pr<strong>op</strong>erly and<br />

find the right bank to buy, he warned. “You have<br />


q Orion Federal<br />

Credit Union in<br />

Memphis is going<br />

to court over its<br />

attempted bank<br />

acquisition (Image:<br />

Orion FCU)<br />

(NCUA) says there have been 900 mergers from<br />

2016 to 2020. But S&P Global figures show that<br />

13 banks were acquired by credit unions in 2021,<br />

and industry observers such as Michael Bell,<br />

finance expert at Detroit law firm Honigman,<br />

expects at least 25 more such deals this year.<br />

“My prediction is based on the work and deal<br />

flow I am seeing,” he told American Banker. “I<br />

spend most of my time working on these deals,<br />

and I have never seen so much activity.”<br />

Bank purchases are a strategy highlighted by<br />

US credit union representatives at the recent<br />

Association of British Credit Unions (Abcul)<br />

conference. Eric Broome, from Georgia’s Own<br />

to have a strategy. You can’t just do it willy nilly<br />

… you have to assess strengths and weaknesses<br />

to find the right partners, and make sure it’s a<br />

collaborative process.”<br />

Other examples from the sector include<br />

acquisitions by GreenState Credit Union of North<br />

Liberty, Iowa, of four banks in 2020 and 2021,<br />

and two bank purchases by Orlando, Florida’s<br />

Fairwinds Credit Union – moves which, the<br />

credit unions say, deliver new product lines,<br />

expanded memberships, asset growth, efficiency<br />

and infrastructure such as ATM networks.<br />

This trend has prompted howls of protest from<br />

the US banking sector – which already has its<br />

knives sharpened for credit unions over their taxexempt<br />

status. Credit union apex bodies such as<br />

the National Association for Federally Insured<br />

Credit Unions (Nafcu) have been defending this<br />

for several years against an aggressive campaign<br />

from the banking lobby.<br />

Banks have been bringing legal challenges to<br />

individual credit union acquisitions, with tussles<br />

in Nebraska, <strong>Co</strong>lorado, Iowa and Tennessee –<br />

where a court battle is raging over a pr<strong>op</strong>osed<br />

purchase by Orion Federal Credit Union of<br />

Memphis-based Financial Federal Bank, which<br />

has assets of US$818m (£683m).<br />

In November 2021, Davidson <strong>Co</strong>unty Chancery<br />

<strong>Co</strong>urt Judge Patricia Moskal placed an injunction<br />

on the deal, while she assessed the implications<br />

of the Tennessee Banking Act.<br />

At the end of May, Moskal lifted this, ruling<br />

that the act allowed the purchase because the<br />

42 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

credit union is acquiring the bank’s assets, not<br />

its charter or stock.<br />

But the state regulator, the Tennessee<br />

Department of Financial Institutions (TDFI),<br />

which <strong>op</strong>poses the deal, has struck back, filing an<br />

appeal at the end of June to overturn the ruling.<br />

Moskal, in her ruling, said the TDFI has<br />

approved similar transactions when the acquirer<br />

was a state-chartered or out-of-state bank. “The<br />

legislature could have included a limitation on<br />

the types of entities permitted to purchase the<br />

assets of a state-chartered bank, but it did not do<br />

so,” she wrote.<br />

But submitting his appeal against Moskal’s<br />

ruling on 14 June, TDFI <strong>Co</strong>mmissioner Greg<br />

Gonzales argued that Financial Federal account<br />

holders would be “irreparably harmed and<br />

disrupted” by the deal, along with the state’s<br />

banking system.<br />

The Tennessee Bankers Association is also<br />

hostile to the deal. In a blog post, its president/<br />

CEO <strong>Co</strong>lin Barrett wrote: “Unfortunately these<br />

deals have been on the rise around the country<br />

in recent years.” He said Financial Federal<br />

is “a strong, well respected Memphis bank”<br />

while Orion, which “began as a small credit<br />

union whose mission was to serve teachers in<br />

Memphis” had used “its tax advantaged status<br />

and weak regulatory oversight to grow to a<br />

position where it can acquire a $750m bank”.<br />

Barrett accused Orion of abandoning its<br />

“desire to serve pe<strong>op</strong>le of modest means” with a<br />

move that would turn it into a near $2bn financial<br />

institution. “Bank acquisitions by credit unions<br />

have fuelled passionate discussions by the TBA<br />

board over recent years,” he added. “There is<br />

debate about whether these acquisitions should<br />

be prohibited in statute, even if they already<br />

are. And there is discussion around what can<br />

be done at the state and local level to rein in<br />

credit unions.<br />

“But whatever we do on the state level will<br />

continue to pale in comparison to the work<br />

that needs to be done in <strong>Co</strong>ngress. Whether it<br />

is credit unions buying banks, expanding their<br />

business lending or <strong>op</strong>ening their membership<br />

to anyone who can fog a mirror, the part I find<br />

most frustrating is the blind eye turned by<br />

members of <strong>Co</strong>ngress.”<br />

Nafcu has been among the credit union<br />

bodies working to fend off such attacks from<br />

the banking sector. In a briefing note, it says:<br />

“Mergers between credit unions and community<br />

banks are not new and have occurred over the<br />

last decade as the rate of financial institution<br />

consolidation has increased.<br />

“Overwhelming compliance burdens and<br />

costs since financial crisis and enactment of the<br />

Dodd-Frank Act have made it harder to survive<br />

as a community bank or credit union. This has<br />

caused financial industry consolidation, which<br />

has led to fewer and fewer merger <strong>op</strong>tions.”<br />

It says regulatory relief for community<br />

institutions would help slow the consolidation<br />

trend, adding that mergers between banks and<br />

credit unions “represent a tiny percentage of<br />

overall mergers in the financial services sector”.<br />

These mergers are “typically a win-win”,<br />

argues Nafcu: while credit unions get to expand,<br />

local pe<strong>op</strong>le see the protection of communityfocused<br />

financial services, local jobs and<br />

branches, which might be lost through a sale<br />

to a national bank. “Credit union-community<br />

bank mergers often mean employees retain jobs<br />

and branches remain <strong>op</strong>en with a focus on the<br />

members in the community,” it argues.<br />

“Big banks, on the other hand, are focused<br />

on profits and making money from a merger. A<br />

look at the financial health of community banks<br />

that have recently merged with credit unions<br />

shows that those institutions are generally lessprofitable,<br />

and thus less attractive, as potential<br />

merger partners for larger for-profit banks.”<br />

But the road to mergers remains rocky. As well<br />

as <strong>op</strong>position from the banking sector, hurdles<br />

include the time it can take to complete a deal.<br />

And regulator the National Credit Union<br />

Administration caps business loan rates for<br />

credit unions at 12.25% which is a bar against<br />

buying a bank with a large commercial portfolio.<br />

Credit unions also face regulatory questions<br />

over how bank customers fit into their field of<br />

membership, if carried over as members.<br />

One example which shows the challenges that<br />

face the sector is recent attempt by Jacksonville,<br />

Florida-based VStar Credit Union to merge with<br />

Georgia community bank Heritage Southeast<br />

which was – called off in June after the boards<br />

of both organisations decided there was no<br />

“clear path forward to obtaining the regulatory<br />

approvals needed for closing”.<br />

CREDIT<br />

UNION-<br />


BANK<br />




RETAIN<br />

JOBS AND<br />


REMAIN<br />

OPEN<br />

p Eric Broome and<br />

Nickolas Kitchens of<br />

Georgia’s Own Credit<br />

Union talk mergers at<br />

the Abcul conference<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 43

Campaign launched to<br />



TO THE UK<br />

meeting <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> put some questions to the<br />

group, with answers compiled by Anita Mangan,<br />

from the University of Bristol.<br />




By Miles Hadfield<br />

p <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Cincy has<br />

been devel<strong>op</strong>ing the<br />

union co-<strong>op</strong> model in<br />

Cincinnati, Ohio<br />

An organisation has been formed to try to build a<br />

new wave of fully unionised worker co-<strong>op</strong>s “that<br />

have unions at the core of their democracy”.<br />

Union-co<strong>op</strong>s:uk says it wants to encourage<br />

mutually beneficial collaboration between the<br />

union and co-<strong>op</strong> movements through the union<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> model – which has already been put<br />

to work in parts of the US, such as Cincinnati,<br />

Ohio. “We believe the union co-<strong>op</strong> model is a<br />

powerful tool to counter mainstream economic<br />

narratives,” they say. “It is a living example that<br />

another way is possible.”<br />

The group held a meeting at Wortley Hall,<br />

near Sheffield, in May – with participants Andy<br />

Birchall, <strong>Co</strong>lm Massey, Cilla Ross, Alex Bird, Mick<br />

McKeown, Martin Strube, Gareth Crockett, John<br />

Merritt, Simon Taylor, Chris Croome, Graham<br />

Mitchell, Fredy Velez, Anita Mangan, Niall<br />

Mulholland, Siôn Whellens, Miguel Martínez-<br />

Lucio, Cath Muller and Sarah Woolley. After the<br />

Union-co-<strong>op</strong>s exist elsewhere in the world but<br />

we need one in the UK as ‘proof of concept’.<br />

This means working together with a trade union,<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>erative, and co-<strong>op</strong>erative and union<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment experts and organisers. This union<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> could then offer a flexible template for<br />

union supported worker co-<strong>op</strong> conversions.<br />

There is some work to be done to work out<br />

how to make that argument to the trades unions,<br />

who pass all the ICA principles and who share<br />

similar values and principles with co-<strong>op</strong>erators.<br />

Importantly, we need to allay the understandable<br />

fears of trade unions that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are not<br />

about driving a mutual agenda. In other words,<br />

we need to reassure unions that union co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

are not privatisation by stealth. At the same time<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators need to be encouraged to explore<br />

the benefits of being unionised.<br />


Union-co<strong>op</strong>s:uk is a campaigning organisation<br />

which has spent the past few years raising<br />

awareness about the benefits of the union co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model. In July 2020 we launched our Manifesto<br />

for Decent Work. Since then we have hosted<br />

a series of online seminars with national and<br />

international speakers, focused on different<br />

aspects of the union co-<strong>op</strong> model.<br />

Most recently, we held a residential strategy<br />

round table in Wortley Hall that explored<br />

how to devel<strong>op</strong> union co-<strong>op</strong>s in the UK. The<br />

participants included union and co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

activists who have taken on responsibility to<br />

44 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

devel<strong>op</strong> key areas such as communications,<br />

finance, democracy, education and technology.<br />

The aim is to promote the union co-<strong>op</strong>s model at<br />

the autumn conferences.<br />





There is a long history of shared activism and<br />

solidarity between co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and unions<br />

that pe<strong>op</strong>le have forgotten about. Many in both<br />

movements are committed to alternative models<br />

of ownership and control. We need to bridge<br />

the gap with new approaches, arguments and<br />

information. For example, co-<strong>op</strong>s can be part<br />

of union renewal. Unionisation in turn can offer<br />

support and organisation to co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

reduce any danger of a ‘race to the bottom’ in<br />

terms and conditions for co-<strong>op</strong>erators. They can<br />

also address in-work poverty (eg trade union<br />

credit unions). Union co-<strong>op</strong>s are a chance for<br />

renewal for both movements to address pressing<br />

social, economic and environmental crises.<br />

Education is key to bridging the gap between<br />

unions and co-<strong>op</strong>s. There have been numerous<br />

efforts over the years to get unions and co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

talking to each other. Lots of workers are<br />

scared or reluctant to of taking on management<br />

responsibilities, but the unions could encourage<br />

workers to feel able to take on those roles. We<br />

need education and support to do it.<br />

The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union<br />

(BFAWU) and Musicians’ Union have given<br />

strong support to the union co-<strong>op</strong>s model.<br />

BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley is<br />

actively involved in union co-<strong>op</strong> discussions and<br />

has spoken at several events. Other supportive<br />

unions include Equity and BECTU.<br />





The 19th century models devel<strong>op</strong>ed, as social<br />

movements always do, in response to need.<br />

But the range of injustices, including in-work<br />

poverty and food security issues are problems<br />

that are still with us today. Yet while democracy,<br />

voice, participation, mutual support and<br />

equality between members are at the heart of the<br />

19th century models, the vocabulary does not<br />

necessarily translate to a 21st century audience.<br />

For example, it could be argued that worker co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />




AND CO-OPS<br />

are already unions (worker unions). Worker<br />

unions as a term has less baggage and we see<br />

great benefit in using this term. Language is<br />

exciting in terms of power and democracy, but<br />

needs to be used carefully.<br />

We are stuck in structures that were devel<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

200 years ago and they need to be changed. On<br />

the other hand, the bureaucratic structures have<br />

democracy built into them. Part of the problem<br />

is that 30 years of neoliberalism has meant that<br />

it is the older activists who have been holding<br />

the line. This is beginning to change as there is a<br />

yearning for some kind of socialism, very broadly<br />

defined. We are battling against the decline of<br />

terms & conditions and rise of neoliberal ideology.<br />

Education is essential as there is a wealth of<br />

historical information we can draw on.<br />



Apart from creating dialogue between unions<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>s, the key barriers are legislation<br />

and education. We need to educate union<br />

activists, co-<strong>op</strong>erators, workers and business<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment agencies about the union co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model. At the same time, we also need to<br />

influence policy makers so that union co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

are presented as a viable alternative for business<br />

start-ups and conversions.<br />

q Discussion of union<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s at Wortley Hall<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 45


for the Global Innovation <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Summit?<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

In 2019 a group of co-<strong>op</strong>erators and event<br />

organisers got together to plan a new<br />

international gathering – a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

innovation summit.<br />

The idea was born out of the need for an event<br />

to fill the gap left by the International Summit of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, a biennial event held in Quebec<br />

in 2012, 2014 and 2016 with the support of the<br />

Desjardins Group and the Canadian government.<br />

“Unfortunately that event could no longer take<br />

place,” says the summit’s former programme<br />

director, Joanne Lechasseur. But this was not<br />

through lack of demand: long after the event<br />

was axed, co<strong>op</strong>erators were calling her to ask if it<br />

was returning.<br />

This sowed the seeds for a new event. “We<br />

came up with the idea for the Global Innovation<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Summit,” says Lechasseur, “to<br />

respond to the need to bring together primary<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, to foster inter-co<strong>op</strong>eration and business<br />

exchanges, discuss interesting subjects and talk<br />

about innovation.”<br />

The first Global Innovation <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Summit<br />

event was held virtually in 2020, with three more<br />

online events following in 2021. A hybrid inperson/online<br />

summit will be held in Paris on 26-<br />

27 September, in English, French and Spanish.<br />

“The aim is to reflect on the co-<strong>op</strong>erative world<br />

of today and that of tomorrow,” says Jean-Louis<br />

Bancel, president of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e, who<br />

is another of the event’s co-founders. “These<br />

are times of innovation – not only technological<br />

innovation but also social innovation and<br />

managerial innovation.”<br />

The summit will explore pressing global<br />

challenges like climate change and the tech<br />

revolution. It will not be an academic conference,<br />

adds Bancel, and it will feature experts from<br />

outside the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement alongside<br />

well-known co-<strong>op</strong>erators, with in-person and<br />

online participants able to join the discussion.<br />

“We want the event to be as interactive as<br />

possible,” he says, adding that the hybrid format<br />

was chosen to enable pe<strong>op</strong>le from around the<br />

world, of diverse backgrounds, sectors and ages,<br />

to take part. For example, universities that buy<br />

a virtual ticket will be able to stream it in big<br />

rooms to include larger groups of students.<br />

46 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

Alongside international speakers on co<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

social innovation and technology<br />

trends, the event will include small stages<br />

during coffee breaks with <strong>op</strong>portunities to<br />

discuss and share information; access to startup<br />

incubators; interaction with platform co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

a young leaders’ programme and an exhibition<br />

area for sponsors and partners.<br />

The main theme of the event is transition –<br />

and particularly generational transition – with<br />

the focus not merely on sharing knowledge with<br />

young pe<strong>op</strong>le, but involving them as participants<br />

and speakers.<br />

“It is about reciprocal learning,” says Bancel.<br />

Other summit sessions will explore how to<br />

attract and empower millennials and how to<br />

facilitate a leadership transition.<br />

The agenda also includes sessions on the role<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>s in the circular economy and meeting<br />

the SDGs, the importance of artificial and human<br />

intelligence, the potential of platform co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

the impact of the digital transition on different<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative sectors.<br />

The <strong>op</strong>ening plenary will explore how co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

– as recognised promoters of social<br />

resilience, community action, ethical values<br />

and social responsibility – work alongside other<br />

types of businesses who also want a better<br />

world, and will feature <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK CEO<br />

Rose Marley in conversation with Camille Dorival<br />

(former editor of Alternatives économiques).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> international editor Anca Voinea<br />

will facilitate a session on how a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

response can be integrated in circular economy<br />

strategies on the energy transition, and there<br />

will also be an <strong>op</strong>en and interactive discussion<br />

about the youth perception of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

business model and what twist it needs to be<br />

more inclusive, sustainable and grow.<br />

Crédit Agricole, the world’s largest co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

by turnover, is one of the main supporters of the<br />

event and is providing the conference venue,<br />

near the co-<strong>op</strong>’s start-up incubator, Le Village<br />




WORLD OF<br />


THAT OF<br />


by CA. Le Village, which covers 1,800 m 2 and<br />

houses dozens of start-ups, and will also lead<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s for delegates attending in-person.<br />

Since the venue is provided by Crédit Agricole,<br />

the price of the in-person conference tickets<br />

(€490) is similar to that of online tickets (€450).<br />

Those who register before 30 July can also get a<br />

€40 discount.<br />

As to the future, the plan is for the summit<br />

to be held annually in different countries. “ We<br />

want this event to move around the world to<br />

be accessible to pe<strong>op</strong>le,” says Lechasseur. “Not<br />

everyone will be able to come to Paris. The<br />

advantage of having a hybrid event is that pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

from all over the world will be able to contribute<br />

without having to book a flight to France.<br />

“Likewise, those wishing to attend in person<br />

will be able to talk to other delegates over coffee<br />

breaks and visit Le Village.”<br />

The full programme and list of speakers is<br />

available globalinnovation.co<strong>op</strong><br />

p Joanne Lechasseur<br />

(left) and Jean-Louis<br />

Bancel<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 47


Worker co-<strong>op</strong>s under the microsc<strong>op</strong>e<br />

– with a message to the world<br />

Working Democracies:<br />

Managing inequality in<br />

worker co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

Joan S. M. Meyers,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rnell (ILR Press)<br />

After welcoming the millennium with some<br />

over-excited talk of the “end of history”, the<br />

world has been rocked by a string of harrowing<br />

economic, political and environmental crises –<br />

and a publishing industry has grown up around<br />

diagnosing the problem. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> thinkers have their<br />

own perspective on the global malaise and the<br />

questions it raises around equality, ownership,<br />

power and identities of race, gender and class.<br />

Enter Joan Meyers with a look at worker co-<strong>op</strong>s –<br />

increasingly presented as a democratic grassroots<br />

rival to the prevailing p<strong>op</strong>ulist and corporate forces.<br />

Worker-led models, touted as a counter force to<br />

tech mon<strong>op</strong>olies like Amazon, have been slowly<br />

moving from the pages of publications like <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>News</strong> to the mainstream press, a process which took<br />

another big step this month with the revelations<br />

about the corporate behaviour of Uber, making this<br />

a timely book.<br />

But even worker co-<strong>op</strong>s face questions around<br />

equality, ownership, power and identity, says<br />

Meyers, who built case studies of two Californian<br />

worker co-<strong>op</strong>s – Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s Daily Bread Bakery and<br />

One World Natural Grocery – after members of the<br />

two organisations argued at a conference.<br />

Herbert Gubbins, CEO of the bakery, favoured a<br />

formal business structure over participative selfmanagement<br />

because his team are “working-class<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le who want to come in, do their job, and<br />

get home to their families. They don’t want to sit<br />

through endless meetings”.<br />

But, replied Jan Bridges from the grocery: “All<br />

kinds of working class pe<strong>op</strong>le run their own<br />

businesses every day”.<br />

Meyers, hearing “two strikingly different views<br />

of what workers want”, decided to investigate, and<br />

has compiled a fascinating comparative study, with<br />

frank testimony revealed through interviews and<br />

minutes from meetings.<br />

She discovered that “almost all of the members<br />

of both co-<strong>op</strong>eratives shared similar levels of<br />

personal and family education, family wealth and<br />

occupational prestige, and ‘class culture’”. But<br />

“while the grocery had preserved its gender balance<br />

... bakery women were a small minority, and power<br />

and authority were mapped onto race/ethnicity at<br />

the bakery in a way not found at the grocery”.<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>’s structure can be influential in this<br />

regard, with both organisations bringing in<br />

consultants to help them weather the financial<br />

crises of the 1980s. They went “in <strong>op</strong>posite<br />

directions from their collectivist origins: the<br />

bakery to permanent and positional management<br />

supervised by a board of directors elected from the<br />

membership, and the grocery to the formalisation<br />

and increased coordination of highly decentralised<br />

work group self-management”.<br />

Worker co-<strong>op</strong>s, adds Meyers, face “inherent<br />

tensions” in a capitalist market – with workerowners<br />

forced to walk a line between protecting<br />

their capital and ensuring that all members are<br />

justly rewarded for their labour. Worker democracy<br />

must be reconciled with “the need for delegation<br />

and coordination of authority in order to compete”,<br />

while “the different market values of members’<br />

skills … conflicts with the equity orientation of the<br />

worker co-<strong>op</strong>erative project”.<br />

Part of the problem lies in the roots of worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, whose “organisational scale and process<br />

limited profitability”, leading to “poverty wages,<br />

effectively excluding pe<strong>op</strong>le who were unable to fall<br />

back on loans or gifts of family wealth”. Another<br />

issue is the greater ease for white pe<strong>op</strong>le in terms of<br />

accessing personal networks or assuming control<br />

of informal structures – which, warns Meyers, can<br />

confer “almost limitless authority”.<br />

For all that, Meyers values the movement. “Labour<br />

is under attack. It needs worker co-<strong>op</strong>eratives,” she<br />

says, valuing them as part of a wider social and<br />

solidarity economy: ‘“diverse organisations and<br />

practices as powerful constituents of an enlivened<br />

non-capitalist politics of place”.<br />

At both co-<strong>op</strong>s, she finds a lack of class inequality<br />

– good wages, with pay equity between gender and<br />

racial groups; working class hirings; and, at the<br />

bakery at least, a ethnic diversity much improved<br />

from the counterculture days.<br />

She still frets that worker co-<strong>op</strong>s might only<br />

offer “temporary shelter” in a world which forces<br />

workers to become “possessive, fiercely guarding<br />

their gates against those perceived as invaders and<br />

outsiders”. But Meyers is no determinist: noting<br />

that “there are conditions under which working<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le will choose to share rather than hoard, to<br />

recognise rather than pave over differences and<br />

divisions, to address rather than exploit privilege<br />

and disadvantage ... Another world – co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and egalitarian – is indeed possible.”<br />

48 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>


Housing co-<strong>op</strong>s: How radical union<br />

reformers dreamed big in the Big Apple<br />

Working-Class<br />

Ut<strong>op</strong>ias: A History of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Housing<br />

in New York City,<br />

Robert M. Fogelson,<br />

Princeton University<br />

Press<br />

Urban historian Robert M. Fogelson looks back here<br />

at the story of New York’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing,<br />

with a focus on key events and driving forces that<br />

helped and hindered the movement.<br />

One of those pivotal forces is Abraham E. Kazan,<br />

“widely regarded as the father of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing in the United States”. Kazan devel<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

an interest in co-<strong>op</strong>eratives while working at<br />

the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’<br />

Union (ILGWU) before moving to its rival, the<br />

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Kazan<br />

led the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of a number of key co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing projects, first using Amalgamated as a<br />

vehicle and then, in 1951, launching the United<br />

Housing Foundation (UHF) to promote co-<strong>op</strong><br />

housing in New York and elsewhere.<br />

He is presented as a tireless ‘doer’, always<br />

looking to press ahead with the next project, “not<br />

only to provide quality housing for working class<br />

New Yorkers but to set an example for wage earners<br />

everywhere”. He believed the spread of housing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s would ultimately solve the housing problem<br />

that has long plagued the city.<br />

As well as individual actors, Fogelson draws<br />

on source material to lay out the legislation, the<br />

social, political and economic environments and<br />

the ideological debates taking place at city, state<br />

and federal levels.<br />

All these shaped the co-<strong>op</strong> housing movement<br />

in New York over the nineteenth century – a period<br />

blighted by overcrowding, squalor and a lack<br />

of basic amenities. Things would get worse: an<br />

acute housing shortage following World War I put<br />

pressure on housing regulators to ignore violations.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration was put forward as an alternative to<br />

the public vs private binary.<br />

Kazan and his allies argued that the solution<br />

“was not tenement-house reform. Nor was it<br />

model tenements or public housing. Rather it<br />

was co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing. Spacious and sanitary<br />

apartments could be built for working-class<br />

families, but only by adhering to the principle<br />

of self-help that had been ad<strong>op</strong>ted first at the<br />

Amalgamated Houses and later at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City and<br />

the UHF’s other housing projects”.<br />

In 1924 Amalgamated voted to build the<br />

Amalgamated Houses, the first of a number of<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments led by the union. Other unions and<br />

organisations followed suit, and by the 1950s New<br />

York stood as the “unrivalled co-<strong>op</strong> capital” when<br />

it came to housing. Amalgamated’s co-<strong>op</strong>s even<br />

managed to weather the Great Depression, though<br />

most others did not.<br />

Fogelson uses personal accounts from residents<br />

to bring to life the benefits of co-<strong>op</strong>erative living,<br />

such as the garment worker who spoke about living<br />

in the Amalgamated Houses: “Where we used to<br />

live in New York there was never a blade of grass<br />

to be seen and nothing grew but rent … Now the<br />

grass is at my doorway, and when I wake up in the<br />

morning the birds sing for me.”<br />

But Fogelson also finds testimonies to the less<br />

sunny parts of New York’s co-<strong>op</strong> housing story.<br />

Residents of the famous <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

lament the piles of rubble and construction work of<br />

the early days of their time there.<br />

The bulk of the book is dedicated to UHF’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City, the world’s largest co-<strong>op</strong> housing<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment. It took its first residents in 1968<br />

but it wasn’t long before trouble brewed. In the<br />

1970s, as inflation spiralled, the co-<strong>op</strong> hit fiscal<br />

troubles following project delays and soaring<br />

costs, and residents launched a campaign against<br />

management hikes to monthly carry charges. The<br />

economic woes of the time – which feel eerily<br />

similar to those of <strong>2022</strong> – had time driven the cost<br />

of living to “historic heights”, making the increase<br />

in charges even less tolerable for residents.<br />

Fogelson offers a detailed run through of the<br />

legal battle and rent strike carried out by residents<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City. This points to a key issue regarding<br />

the governance of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City in its early stages,<br />

with the UHF’s leaders described by City <strong>News</strong> as<br />

acting like “benevolent despots”.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City was UHF’s last devel<strong>op</strong>ment. Fogelson<br />

quotes Peter Eisenstadt who wrote that they were<br />

“profoundly hurt by the fallout from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City<br />

rent strike” and became “cautious and gun-shy”.<br />

Despite the challenges it faced, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City<br />

survived and remains the world’s largest<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> housing devel<strong>op</strong>ment, though it ultimately<br />

failed to spur the h<strong>op</strong>ed-for co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing<br />

revolution.<br />

Fogelson quotes Governor Rockefeller describing<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City as the “crowning achievement” of<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> housing movement, leaving the reader<br />

wondering if its story is one of h<strong>op</strong>e and inspiration,<br />

or a cautionary tale. Perhaps it can be both.<br />

AUGUST <strong>2022</strong> | 49

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

event – taking place in person,<br />

online, or as a hybrid – to be<br />

featured?<br />

Tell us at: events@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Women’s Voices:<br />

Heather Roberts<br />

24 <strong>August</strong> (10-11am, online)<br />

CWV is a series of monthly interviews<br />

with women from the global co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement. <strong>August</strong>’s guest is Heather<br />

Roberts, chair of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Heritage Trust.<br />

bit.ly/3RRpLBC<br />

UKSCS Annual <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

26-28 <strong>August</strong> (Lincoln)<br />

The first in-person UK Society for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Studies conference since 2019<br />

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 />

Values and value chains<br />

7 September (London)<br />

A session to on the values and planning<br />

tools that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives support<br />

(delivered Douglas by Racionzer).<br />

bit.ly/3HPh8TI<br />

Global Innovation <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Summit<br />

14-16 September (Paris and online)<br />

Taking the theme New times - New<br />

challenges: the transition areas, with a<br />

specific focus on youth and digital.<br />

globalinnovation.co<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Women’s Voices:<br />

Pauline Green<br />

21 September (12-1.30pm, online)<br />

CWV is a series of monthly interviews<br />

with women from the global co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement. September’s guest is Dame<br />

Pauline Green, former MEP, former head<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Union (now <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK) and former president of the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA).<br />

bit.ly/3OoTRJM<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

8-9 October (Leeds)<br />

From Crisis to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration: the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Party’s annual conference will bring<br />

together members and supporters from<br />

across the co-<strong>op</strong>erative and labour<br />

movements to learn more about its work,<br />

help shape Party policy and discuss<br />

priorities and campaigns.<br />

party.co<strong>op</strong>/event/annconf022<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s and social enterprises<br />

12 October (London)<br />

A session to better understand the terms<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Social Enterprises<br />

and how to access resources available.<br />

(Hosted by Outlandish and delivered by<br />

Douglas Racionzer).<br />

bit.ly/3tUey9h<br />

CCH Annual <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

14-16 October (Warwick)<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Housing will bring together the UK’s<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong> housing sector under the<br />

theme Sustainability – rethink:reset<br />

cch.co<strong>op</strong>/cch-annualconference-<strong>2022</strong><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<br />

founding member, in Rome, where the<br />

organisation was formed.<br />

icmif.org/icmif-conference<br />

Locality <strong>Co</strong>nvention<br />

8-9 November <strong>2022</strong> (Sheffield)<br />

Locality’s annual convention, at Sheffield<br />

City Hall, brings together pe<strong>op</strong>le who<br />

believe in the power of community.<br />

Organisers plan to explore how best to<br />

build thriving neighbourhoods and how<br />

policymakers can support community<br />

power. Worksh<strong>op</strong>s will be on key issues<br />

such as the future of high streets, the<br />

cost of living crisis, succession planning,<br />

racial justice, the climate crisis and<br />

funding and social investment. There is<br />

an early bird offer of 15% off ticket prices<br />

for bookings made before 11 <strong>August</strong>.<br />

locality.org.uk/events/<br />

convention-21-2<br />

50 | AUGUST <strong>2022</strong>

01<br />

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