Co-op News February 2023

The February edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at how co-ops are responding to crises in the world – including a look at how UK retail co-ops are supporting their colleagues, members and communities through tough economic times. There's also a report from the annual conference of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society which looked at options for farmers, who are under pressure to cut their climate emissions while maintaining production; and a look at how co-ops and community businesses on tight margins are raising funds to stay afloat. Plus a look at recent events at the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country, Spain, where two co-ops have voted to leave the federation; ideas for a kinder, co-operative future for Twitter; a co-op option for carbon offsetting; and efforts by SEWA to make sure the needs of women's co-ops are met in India's new national policy for the co-op sector.

The February edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at how co-ops are responding to crises in the world – including a look at how UK retail co-ops are supporting their colleagues, members and communities through tough economic times. There's also a report from the annual conference of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society which looked at options for farmers, who are under pressure to cut their climate emissions while maintaining production; and a look at how co-ops and community businesses on tight margins are raising funds to stay afloat. Plus a look at recent events at the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country, Spain, where two co-ops have voted to leave the federation; ideas for a kinder, co-operative future for Twitter; a co-op option for carbon offsetting; and efforts by SEWA to make sure the needs of women's co-ops are met in India's new national policy for the co-op sector.


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FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />


How co-<strong>op</strong>s are supporting<br />

members - and being<br />

supported themselves<br />

Plus … <strong>News</strong> Zealand’s<br />

Roz Henry on what the<br />

country’s leadership change<br />

means for co-<strong>op</strong>s ... New<br />

trouble at Mondragon as two<br />

organisations vote to leave ...<br />

Anti-social media: can co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

fix Twitter?<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

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<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are there for their members in times of trouble. But what<br />

happens when it’s the co-<strong>op</strong> itself that is struggling? This question isn’t<br />

new, but is becoming worryingly common as organisations of all sizes, in<br />

every sector, struggle to keep their collective heads above water and swim<br />

against waves of crisis after crisis.<br />

The environmental crisis weighed heavy on the minds of those attending<br />

the recent Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) conference<br />

in Dunblane (p26-27), who agreed that while warmer temperatures bring<br />

some benefits like a longer growing season, the risks – such as increased<br />

storm, drought, flood, pests and cr<strong>op</strong> disease – massively outweigh them.<br />

Delegates heard how technology will play a part in mitigating this, but that<br />

farmers need to be part of the conversation.<br />

Farmers have a rough deal, and have a higher rate of suicide than the general<br />

p<strong>op</strong>ulation in a number of countries. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s know this, and organisations<br />

in the agriculture sector – and others – are looking at how to support the<br />

mental health and wellbeing of their members, colleagues and customers.<br />

(p39-41). Food and retail co-<strong>op</strong>s are also looking at how to support<br />

individuals through the cost of living crisis (p30-33), through education on<br />

energy and affordable m eals, a s w ell a s f undraising f or l ocal f oodbanks,<br />

advice on finances a nd t he p ractical p rovision o f p hysical spaces – such<br />

as community pantries and warm spaces – to provide support and comfort.<br />

But who supports the co-<strong>op</strong>s that are increasingly feeling close to the edge?<br />

Over the past year, there have been a number of examples of co-<strong>op</strong>s turning<br />

to crowdfunding to plug gaps in their finances caused by the economic crisis<br />

– with mixed results (p36-38). And it’s not just the small co-<strong>op</strong>s struggling<br />

right now. In the Basque <strong>Co</strong>untry, Spain, two of Mondragon’s co-<strong>op</strong>s have<br />

voted to leave (p34-35), while in December, Midcounties’ board chose to<br />

end its Healthcare provision (p8).<br />

But it’s not all doom and gloom, I promise! In New Zealand, upcoming<br />

elections may pose <strong>op</strong>portunities for the sector (p25) and in India, a SEWA<br />

delegation to Delhi made clear the demands of women’s co-<strong>op</strong>s as the<br />

country prepares a national co-<strong>op</strong> policy (p46-47). We also hear how co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

have the potential to revive platforms such as Twitter (p44-45), about the<br />

work of a new climate offset co-<strong>op</strong>erative (p42-43) and celebrate the work of<br />

pioneers working in community energy (p28-29).<br />


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FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



David Hynam, new CEO of LV=, has<br />

pledged support for mutualism (p13); ICA<br />

secretary general, Bruno Roelants,<br />

announces retirement (p14); SEWA Delhi<br />

declaration (p46-47); Trouble at<br />

Mondragon? (p34-35); Meet the winners of<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Awards (p28-29)<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />


How co-<strong>op</strong>s are supporting<br />

members - and being<br />

supported themselves<br />

Plus … <strong>News</strong> Zealand’s<br />

Roz Henry on what the<br />

country’s leadership change<br />

means for co-<strong>op</strong>s ... New<br />

trouble at Mondragon as two<br />

organisations vote to leave ...<br />

Anti-social media: can co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

fix Twitter?<br />

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

£4.20<br />

COVER: <strong>Co</strong>mbating crises<br />

With the pandemic, war, economic<br />

problems and ecological crises piling<br />

up, how are co-<strong>op</strong>s supporting their<br />

members and communities? And how,<br />

in turn, are co-<strong>op</strong>s being supported?<br />

Read more: p31-41<br />


Chair of the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncils’<br />

Innovation Network<br />


CEO of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Business New<br />

Zealand on the country’s leadership<br />

change – and what it means for<br />

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


Scottish farm co-<strong>op</strong>s face up to the<br />

climate crunch<br />


awards recognised the resilience of<br />

community energy in challenging times<br />


How are food and retail co-<strong>op</strong>s supporting<br />

members, customers, colleagues and<br />

communities in the face of high inflation?<br />


New trouble for the federation as two<br />

industrial co-<strong>op</strong>s leave the fold<br />

36-38 ‘CLOSE TO THE EDGE’<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>s turning to crowdfunding to<br />

plug gaps in their finances<br />


How are co-<strong>op</strong>s supporting the mental<br />

health of their pe<strong>op</strong>le?<br />


new co-<strong>op</strong> offers climate action to help<br />

the world’s poorest communities<br />


Can the co-<strong>op</strong> model fix our anti-social<br />

media?<br />


Sewa sets out women’s co-<strong>op</strong>’s priorities<br />

ahead of a national co-<strong>op</strong>erative policy<br />


5-13 UK news<br />

14-21 Global news<br />

24 Letters<br />

Events<br />

50<br />

4 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Introduction<br />

Page 1<br />

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

New Year Honours<br />

List <strong>2023</strong> recognises<br />

contributions from<br />

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

The New Years Honours list includes<br />

a number of figures from the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement, including a former <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group executive and a key figure in the<br />

community energy movement.<br />

Helen Webb, who served as the Group’s<br />

chief pe<strong>op</strong>le and services officer from<br />

April 2017 to July last year, was made OBE<br />

for her services to equality, inclusion and<br />

wellbeing.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmenting on Webb’s OBE, a<br />

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

are delighted to hear that our former<br />

colleague Helen has been recognised in<br />

the new year honours, for her ongoing<br />

work in championing equality, inclusion<br />

and wellbeing within the workplace and<br />

throughout local communities in the UK.”<br />

One of the Group’s member pioneers was<br />

also honoured. Sandra Roscoe, who has<br />

been with the Group’s scheme for over five<br />

years, received the British Empire Medal<br />

for her voluntary work with the community<br />

in Rainhill and St Helens, Merseyside,<br />

during the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic. She helped<br />

out with the Rainhill <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Support<br />

Group, which provided valuable help to<br />

local residents, set up a WhatsApp group<br />

for mutual support, and contacted primary<br />

schools to get pupils to write letters of<br />

support to the elderly in the community.<br />

“For me it is always about partnership<br />

work and teamwork,” she told the St Helens<br />

Star. “I don’t feel this award is for me, I feel<br />

it is for the wider team in Rainhill, but I’m<br />

honoured to accept it on their behalf.”<br />

From the community energy sector, Mike<br />

Smyth from Energy4All was awarded an<br />

MBE for services to the environment. Chair<br />

of Friends of the Earth until 2012, Smyth<br />

joined Energy4All in 2008 and has served<br />

in a number of voluntary roles.<br />

A statement from Energy4All said: “It is<br />

fantastic that Mike has been recognised for<br />

his dedication and commitment in his roles<br />

in the energy and environmental sector,<br />

not only as part of the Energy4All team<br />

but also as part of the eight co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

where he serves as a board director.’<br />

p Mike Smyth of Energy4All, former <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group executive Helen Webb and Group member<br />

pioneer Sandra Roscoe<br />

Smyth said: “I was thrilled to receive the<br />

MBE. What a lovely but totally unexpected<br />

surprise. I would like to thank the person or<br />

persons who nominated me.<br />

“During my time working in the<br />

community energy sector we have faced<br />

many hurdles, but with the involvement of<br />

local communities and the wider renewable<br />

energy community, we have been able to<br />

create ground-breaking projects.<br />

“Energy4All gives the power back to the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le. Allowing them to own a stake in<br />

locally generated renewable energy. This, I<br />

believe, is the way forward for our energy<br />

market. As a director of Energy4All it is a<br />

privilege to work alongside these groups<br />

and help them to devel<strong>op</strong> and educate the<br />

next generation about the importance of<br />

renewable energy.”<br />

The honours list also included founder<br />

and CEO of Birmingham Tech CIC, Yiannis<br />

Celebrating a decade<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Shares Unit<br />

Authors: Isla McCulloch and John Dawson<br />

Published by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, <strong>2023</strong><br />

A new report from <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK reveals<br />

that, to date, £210 million has been invested<br />

to create or save vital assets or services<br />

across the UK using ‘community shares‘. At<br />

the same time, £2.2 million is being injected<br />

to further boost communities wanting<br />

Photo: Nudge <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Builders - Plymouth<br />

Kyriacos Moas, who will receive an MBE<br />

for services to the technology sector.<br />

Birmingham Tech CIC is a not-for-profit<br />

community business which aims to raise<br />

the profile of the Birmingham and West<br />

Midlands tech scene.<br />

Also receiving MBEs are the founders<br />

of Freehold CIC, David Mann and Saleem<br />

Fazal, for services to inclusion in the<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty industry. Freehold is a support<br />

and networking forum for LGBTQ+<br />

professionals working within the real<br />

estate sector.<br />

Mann described their inclusion on the<br />

list as “a validation of all the hard work<br />

done by Freehold team members since<br />

its founding in 2011,” adding: “A lot of<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le have put in a lot of long hours to<br />

ensure that LGBTQ+ professionals feel<br />

more welcome and represented in the<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty sector.”<br />

to raise funds using this unique form of<br />

finance. The report, written by Isla McCulloch<br />

and John Dawson to celebrate a decade of<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares Unit, also highlights<br />

that to date, 130,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le have raised<br />

£210m investing in 539 community<br />

businesses and organisations through a<br />

total of 709 share offers.<br />

“This innovative form of finance is<br />

uniquely available to co-<strong>op</strong>erative and<br />

community benefit societies. It provides<br />

them with much needed money to start,<br />

grow and be sustainable,” says the report.<br />

Read more: from p36<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 5


Welsh ministers visit credit unions after £422k funding boost for the sector<br />

Welsh government ministers have visited<br />

credit unions across Wales as they<br />

announced continued funding of just over<br />

£422,000 a year for the sector.<br />

A release from the devolved<br />

administration said credit unions are<br />

“actively involved in communities<br />

throughout Wales [and] contribute to the<br />

economy and the financial wellbeing of<br />

members, who can save safely and borrow<br />

at an affordable rate of interest”.<br />

Cabinet ministers made coordinated<br />

visits across the country to voice<br />

their support for the sector, and to<br />

raise awareness of the services it<br />

provides, which include ethical and<br />

affordable lending.<br />

Among those taking part were first<br />

minister Mark Drakeford and social<br />

justice minister Jane Hutt, who called in<br />

on Cardiff and Vale Credit Union.<br />

Drakeford said: “This time of year can<br />

be particularly difficult as pe<strong>op</strong>le are left<br />

to deal with the cost of Christmas. We<br />

know this winter especially, during an<br />

unprecedented cost of living crisis, many<br />

are finding it very tough and, sadly, high<br />

interest doorstep lenders or loan sharks<br />

will prey on those suffering financially.<br />

“I would urge those struggling to turn<br />

to their local credit union, which can<br />

p Mark Drakeford and Jane Hutt visit Cardiff and Vale Credit Union<br />

provide access to fair and affordable<br />

credit – in support of our journey to<br />

promote social justice and tackle poverty<br />

across Wales.”<br />

Credit unions can help those who<br />

might traditionally find it difficult to save<br />

through offering schemes such as payroll<br />

deductions. They also offer Christmas<br />

savings schemes that only allow<br />

withdrawals in the lead up to the festive<br />

season.<br />

“While many of us may not even want<br />

to think about next Christmas,” added<br />

Drakeford,” now could be the perfect time<br />

to consider starting to save. Credit unions<br />

can make that process easier.<br />

The Welsh government provides credit<br />

unions with revenue funding – which<br />

it says ensures that they can “devel<strong>op</strong> a<br />

host of projects in communities aimed at<br />

boosting membership”.<br />

Hutt added: “I would urge those who<br />

might be struggling and tempted to use<br />

high-cost credit to use their local credit<br />

union as a responsible alternative to other<br />

forms of lending.<br />

“It is clear Welsh credit unions work<br />

incredibly hard, and I’d like to thank<br />

them for their commitment to providing<br />

ethical savings and affordable loans.<br />

They truly are a lifeline to pe<strong>op</strong>le all<br />

across Wales.”<br />

Welsh credit union pioneer wins award for her service to the movement<br />

A pioneer of the credit union movement<br />

has received a Lifetime Achievement<br />

award from the Credit Unions of Wales.<br />

Leanne Herberg, CEO of Cardiff & Vale<br />

Credit Union, received the national title<br />

from BBC broadcaster Roy Noble at the<br />

ceremony. She has been a recognised<br />

advocate within the credit union<br />

movement in Wales for the past 11 years.<br />

Herberg, who was due to leave her post<br />

for a new role in Cardiff Metr<strong>op</strong>olitan<br />

University, said: “I’m very honoured to<br />

have won the award, and would like to<br />

thank my team, board of directors and<br />

volunteers for their brilliant support. Our<br />

achievements have all been a team effort,<br />

and I’m very grateful to them. I’d also like<br />

to thank all of my Credit Unions of Wales<br />

colleagues for their wonderful support<br />

p Leanne Herberg receiving her award from<br />

Roy Noble<br />

and friendship. There is a fantastic<br />

network of mutual support in the sector<br />

here in Wales, and I’ve loved being a part<br />

of it.”<br />

Under her leadership Cardiff & Vale<br />

Credit Union has grown from a small credit<br />

union sited in the basement of Cardiff’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>unty Hall, to a financial co-<strong>op</strong> that has<br />

more than doubled in membership, with<br />

two prominent branches one in a prime<br />

position in the city centre of Cardiff, and<br />

the second in the heart of Barry.<br />

Her tenure saw the credit union<br />

strengthen its approach to ethical finance,<br />

becoming a Real Living Wage employer,<br />

achieving Chwarae Teg Fair Play<br />

accreditation for gender diversity, being<br />

named Social Enterprise of the Year at the<br />

Cardiff Business Awards and becoming<br />

the first financial services provider in<br />

Wales to receive a five-star accreditation<br />

by the Fairbanking Foundation for its<br />

personal loans.<br />

6 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


Worker co-<strong>op</strong> launches fruit tree nursery and heritage orchard in Sheffield<br />

Worker co-<strong>op</strong> Sheffield Fruit Trees is<br />

fundraising to expand its work of filling<br />

the South Yorkshire city with fruit trees.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> runs a fruit tree nursery<br />

which supplies allotments, councils and<br />

commercial gardens with trees, as well as<br />

donating trees to community groups and<br />

organisations.<br />

It says it wants “Sheffield of the future to<br />

have fruit trees in every park and on every<br />

street corner”, and is now embarking on a<br />

project to further that vision.<br />

Sheffield Fruit Trees has taken on 0.5<br />

acres of former hay meadow in Moss<br />

Valley and successfully crowdfunded over<br />

£18,500 by 12 January to help set up a tree<br />

nursery and orchard on the site.<br />

The Forestry <strong>Co</strong>mmission has agreed<br />

to match fund any money raised, which<br />

will go towards a borehole, pump and<br />

irrigation system, an orchard training<br />

building/nursery office/tool store, a set<br />

of tools to maintain the site, fencing<br />

and gates to protect the nursery trees,<br />

volunteer expenses for orchard-planting<br />

workdays, and compost, woodchip and<br />

other organic soil improvers.<br />

Sheffield Fruit Trees said: “We know<br />

that the future of food-growing needs to<br />

be based on techniques that build soil and<br />

bring in biodiversity, so a key part of our<br />

project will be to regenerate this patch<br />

of land so that it can not only support a<br />

tree nursery but also provide habitat for<br />

pollinating insects and other creatures.”<br />

Sheffield Fruit Trees was established<br />

in 2018 as an offshoot of the Abundance<br />

project, which maps Sheffield’s forgotten<br />

fruit trees and distributes fruit that would<br />

otherwise go to waste.<br />

Inspired by this project, a group of its<br />

participants decided to start growing more<br />

fruit trees in Sheffield through a process<br />

called grafting, where living wood is taken<br />

from a mature fruit tree and joined onto a<br />

rootstock (the lower part of the tree). This<br />

allows growers to select the varieties they<br />

wish to grow.<br />

Since then, Sheffield Fruit Trees has<br />

been able to grow 400 fruit trees per year,<br />

including 40 varieties of apple.<br />

At the new larger site, the co-<strong>op</strong> expects<br />

to be able to grow up to 1,000 trees a year,<br />

as well as setting up a heritage orchard<br />

of rare local fruit tree varieties. This will<br />

provide Sheffield Fruit Trees with the<br />

cuttings to graft new trees as well as<br />

helping to preserve the varieties.<br />

Sheffield Fruit Trees added: “We<br />

wouldn’t be where we are now without the<br />

support of everyone who’s ever bought a<br />

tree from us, come to one of our worksh<strong>op</strong>s<br />

or helped out at one of our volunteer days.<br />

Knowing that pe<strong>op</strong>le believe in what we’re<br />

doing is what keeps us going. So we’re<br />

really grateful for the support and help to<br />

make this happen.”<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>llege presents its Malawi work at Holyrood<br />

Representatives from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege were invited to speak about their<br />

work in Malawi at the Scottish Parliament<br />

in Edinburgh on 17 January.<br />

The hybrid event was hosted by the<br />

MSPs on the Malawi Cross Party Group<br />

(CPG) and was attended by over 80<br />

CPG members as well as Professor Iain<br />

Gillespie, principal and vice chancellor<br />

of the University of Dundee, and the<br />

vice chancellors of each of the public<br />

universities in Malawi.<br />

The CPG is part of the Scotland<br />

Malawi Partnership which exists to help<br />

coordinate, support, and represent<br />

Scotland’s links with Malawi. The group<br />

comprises organisations and individuals<br />

from the UK and Malawi.<br />

Representing the <strong>Co</strong>llege was director<br />

of learning and teaching Ali Longden,<br />

director of <strong>op</strong>erations and business<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment Jacqui Thomasen, and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege trustee Chris Jardine.<br />

Longden presented information on the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege and discussed its connection with<br />

Malawi, including its work with Central<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and the Malawi Federation of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

(Mafeco) on the ‘Our Malawi<br />

Partnership‘. This project, launched in<br />

July, aims to improve the livelihoods of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative smallholder farmers through<br />

increased access to inclusive economic<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities, sustainable agricultural<br />

practices, international co-<strong>op</strong> markets<br />

and networks.<br />

The partnership involves Central<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> selling a range of products linked<br />

to Malawi, with a percentage of the sales<br />

p Ali Longden, Chris Jardine and Jacqui<br />

Thomasen<br />

going to the initiative. The <strong>Co</strong>llege is<br />

helping Mafeco administer the funds on<br />

the ground through a co-design process.<br />

The event also provided an <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

for the <strong>Co</strong>llege to share information about<br />

a potential higher education partnership<br />

with the University of Dundee, which<br />

would see the organisations co-produce a<br />

range of learning <strong>op</strong>tions.<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 7

RETAIL<br />

East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> announces Doug Field OBE as new CEO<br />

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

Doug Field OBE as its new CEO, replacing<br />

its joint leadership structure with a single<br />

chief executive leadership model.<br />

“I am honoured to have been chosen<br />

as our co-<strong>op</strong>’s new CEO,” said Field. “I’m<br />

excited about what the future holds for our<br />

family of businesses, and I am committed<br />

to continuing the great work we have done<br />

in the past while also looking forward to<br />

new <strong>op</strong>portunities and growth.”<br />

The society previously used a collegiate<br />

leadership team model, with four joint chief<br />

executives – of which Field was one – having<br />

responsibility for individual specialisms. The<br />

decision to appoint a single CEO was made<br />

in December, after a comprehensive review<br />

by the board. Former joint chief executive<br />

Roger Grosvenor retired last March, with<br />

the remaining joint CEOs Niall O’Keeffe and<br />

Nick Denny deciding to move on to pursue<br />

other interests.<br />

“The East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> would like to<br />

acknowledge the significant contribution<br />

made to the business by Niall and Nick, and<br />

wish them well in their future endeavours,”<br />

the society said in a statement.<br />

p Doug Field OBE<br />

“With 14 years of experience at our co<strong>op</strong>,<br />

most recently serving as joint chief<br />

executive responsible for finance, HR<br />

and technology, Doug has a proven track<br />

record of utilising data and insight to drive<br />

positive change,” said East of England <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

president, Frank Moxon. “These will<br />

be fundamental building blocks as we<br />

look to change how we make decisions<br />

and focus our energies and resources.<br />

Doug’s leadership and expertise will be<br />

instrumental in guiding our co-<strong>op</strong> into<br />

the future.”<br />

Field also chairs the New Anglia Local<br />

Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and was<br />

one of several co-<strong>op</strong>erators named in<br />

the 2021 New Year’s Honours List, being<br />

awarded an OBE for his work supporting<br />

businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk. He<br />

has been with the society for 14 years.<br />

“To me, co-<strong>op</strong>eration is the way you<br />

do business, with suppliers, colleagues,<br />

consumers and the community,” he<br />

said in a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> interview last year.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration is about working in<br />

partnership and for a greater good, and<br />

doing the right thing – even when nobody’s<br />

looking [...] Our key focus is about making<br />

sure we make positive local impacts, and<br />

we do the right thing for our communities.<br />

We want to improve the daily lives of our<br />

members, colleagues, customers and<br />

communities – that’s at the heart of what<br />

we do.”<br />

East of England traces its roots back<br />

to 1846 and today <strong>op</strong>erates 120 food<br />

branches in Norfolk, Suffolk and North<br />

Essex, as well as funeral, travel and<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty services, post offices and the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Secure Response service.<br />

Midcounties closes Healthcare division<br />

Following several years of challenging<br />

trading conditions for the sector, the board<br />

of the Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative approved<br />

the closure of the Healthcare business,<br />

which ceased to trade on 25 January.<br />

Over the last few years, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Healthcare<br />

had transitioned to an online service, with<br />

the society’s final community pharmacy<br />

closing in 2021. During the pandemic<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Healthcare provided <strong>Co</strong>vid testing<br />

kits at some of the lowest prices in the<br />

market and delivered essential healthcare<br />

and cosmetic products to customers across<br />

the country.<br />

However, according to the society,<br />

“increasing competition, increased costs<br />

and the continued dominance of the major<br />

online retailers” limited <strong>op</strong>portunities for<br />

growth and the ability for the business to<br />

offer a service that provides a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference.<br />

“As a result, it is no longer in the best<br />

interests of Midcounties’ members and the<br />

communities we support for the society to<br />

remain in this market,” said a statement.<br />

“Our focus will now be on supporting<br />

our healthcare colleagues, and where<br />

possible we will seek to find alternative<br />

roles for them within the Society’s other<br />

trading groups. We are also ensuring<br />

that members, customers, and partners<br />

are supported with finding alternative<br />

providers where required.”<br />

8 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

RETAIL<br />

400 jobs at risk as<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> shuts<br />

distribution centres<br />

Hundreds of jobs are at risk at Central<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> after the retail society announced<br />

plans to transfer distribution <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

to the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group.<br />

Central will shut three distributions<br />

centres under the move, along with a<br />

garage site, as it moves to the Group’s Lidia<br />

network, which serves over 4,000 stores<br />

out of 13 distribution centres and is owned<br />

by Manchester-based <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group.<br />

Premises on the Braunstone Frith<br />

Industrial Estate, Scudamore Road in<br />

Leicester and a garage in Whetstone will be<br />

affected.<br />

A spokesperson for Central said the<br />

move was part of its “purpose of creating a<br />

sustainable society for all”.<br />

“Over the past year we have been<br />

working on our strategy, across all areas of<br />

our business, to build a clear growth plan<br />

to deliver on this mission,” they added.<br />

“To continue growing the society and<br />

where we support communities, we have<br />

given a lot of careful thought to the future<br />

needs of our distribution <strong>op</strong>erations –<br />

including the age of our current network<br />

and its capability to fulfil the future needs<br />

in our strategy to improve the offer to<br />

members and customers.<br />

“We looked at a number of <strong>op</strong>tions,<br />

including investing in a new purpose-built<br />

modern <strong>op</strong>eration. Approval has been<br />

reached for Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to join the Lidia<br />

network from 2024.<br />

“This national collective distribution<br />

and logistics <strong>op</strong>eration, already serves over<br />

4,000 stores with 13 distribution centres.<br />

Lidia is owned and <strong>op</strong>erated by the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group on behalf of their own stores and<br />

other independent co-<strong>op</strong>eratives’ stores in<br />

the UK.<br />

“This is a difficult decision for some<br />

of our colleagues and we are sorry it will<br />

result in the pr<strong>op</strong>osed closure of our three<br />

distribution <strong>op</strong>erations in Leicester and<br />

our Whetstone garage, with the transition<br />

period expected to take a year.<br />

“We will now enter a consultation<br />

period with Usdaw (the Union of Sh<strong>op</strong>,<br />

Distributive and Allied Workers).”<br />

John Gorle, national officer at Usdaw,<br />

said: “This is devastating news for staff<br />

affected by the company’s pr<strong>op</strong>osal, our<br />

members are deeply concerned about<br />

their future employment prospects. We<br />

will now enter into a period of meaningful<br />

consultation where Usdaw reps and officials<br />

will interrogate the company’s business case<br />

for the transfer of distribution <strong>op</strong>erations.<br />

“We welcome that Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has<br />

given an early commitment to offering<br />

alternative roles to all staff affected, both<br />

within Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group.<br />

Our priorities are to avoid redundancies<br />

and secure the best support package<br />

possible. In the meantime we are providing<br />

our members with the advice, support<br />

and representation they need during this<br />

period of uncertainty.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group appoints new chief membership and customer officer<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has appointed<br />

marketing specialist Kenyatte Nelson to<br />

its <strong>op</strong>erating board, taking up the role of<br />

chief membership and customer officer.<br />

Nelson, described by the Group as “a<br />

seasoned leader“, will take responsibility<br />

for the Group’s membership, marketing<br />

and brand strategies. This will include<br />

supporting the retailer’s presence at<br />

UK music festivals and the naming<br />

rights partnership with <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Live, the<br />

new arena being constructed in east<br />

Manchester.<br />

Having worked in marketing for<br />

more than 20 years, 13 of which were<br />

managing national and international<br />

marketing for major brands at Procter<br />

and Gamble, Nelson joins after leading<br />

roles at retail group Sh<strong>op</strong> Direct (now<br />

known as the Very Group) and fashion<br />

retailers Missguided and N Brown<br />

Group.<br />

As of September 2020, he is also a nonexecutive<br />

director for the British Retail<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nsortium.<br />

p The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s Angel Square HQ<br />

He said: “I could not be more excited<br />

about joining the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group. It is a<br />

values driven organisation that touches<br />

and improves the lives of millions of<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le, and I look forward to working<br />

with Shirine [Khoury-Haq, CEO], the<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating board and the rest of the team,<br />

to build on the great work that is already<br />

happening across the group.”<br />

All senior marketing leads will report<br />

into Nelson, who in turn reports directly<br />

into Khoury-Haq.<br />

Khoury-Haq said: “Kenyatte brings<br />

with him a huge amount of marketing,<br />

digital, customer and brand experience<br />

– he will be a huge asset to our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group, as he leads our membership,<br />

marketing and customer activity and<br />

we are delighted to have him join our<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating board.”<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 9


Bristol Cable granted £40k from Power to Change to expand community tech<br />

Media co-<strong>op</strong> Bristol Cable has won funding<br />

to expand its community tech work with a<br />

two-year grant of £40,000 from Power to<br />

Change.<br />

The city news service, which has won<br />

awards and plaudits for its campaigning<br />

journalism and investigative reporting,<br />

will use the funds to continue the<br />

maintenance and devel<strong>op</strong>ment of its<br />

in-house membership and community<br />

engagement platform.<br />

It plans to make this more accessible<br />

for other community organisations to<br />

use. “The code is already <strong>op</strong>en source,”<br />

said the co-<strong>op</strong>, “but this will mean we can<br />

‘<strong>op</strong>en source’ the processes around the<br />

software too.”<br />

Announcing the news, it said it offered<br />

one of many smaller community platforms<br />

and companies in the UK which offer “a<br />

viable alternative to Big Tech”.<br />

“As the social power wielded by the tech<br />

industry has exploded over the last two<br />

decades,” it added, “plenty of examples<br />

of grassroots tech projects have grown<br />

healthily alongside … The Bristol Cable is<br />

one of them.“<br />

The grant from Power to Change –<br />

an independent trust that supports<br />

community business – will also allow<br />

the Cable to make improvements to<br />

other online services, such as our<br />

communications and mailouts aimed at<br />

community engagement.<br />

In recent years its tech lead Will<br />

Franklin has built and devel<strong>op</strong>ed Beabee,<br />

a membership management platform<br />

which allows the co-<strong>op</strong> to store member<br />

data securely without the risk of it being<br />

sold to advertisers, and also powers<br />

its callouts to engage our members in<br />

editorial and <strong>op</strong>erational questions.<br />

He said: “Our membership and<br />

engagement platform, built in-house,<br />

is a core component of the democratic<br />

engagement we have with our members. It<br />

allows us to engage with them directly, and<br />

simultaneously reach wider communities<br />

in the city, for example, through callouts<br />

allowing pe<strong>op</strong>le to respond to questions<br />

such as ‘How is Bristol’s bus chaos<br />

affecting you?’ or ‘Should we do more<br />

culture, or news?’<br />

“The grant will allow us to continue<br />

this work, and build on our innovative,<br />

grassroots community tech work not only<br />

for Bristol, but for other community based<br />

organisations around the UK too.”<br />

Beabee is already used by a number<br />

of other small newsrooms around<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e already, “making it a community<br />

technology not only benefiting Bristol, but<br />

many other devel<strong>op</strong>ers and communities”,<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> added.<br />

Power to Change’s <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Tech<br />

grant is aimed not only at benefiting<br />

the organisations that win funding and<br />

those that reap the results directly, but<br />

also the wider technology ecosystem by<br />

driving forward innovative, beneficial<br />

and sustainable solutions for social<br />

technology.<br />

It launched the grant with the aim of<br />

“ensuring communities have access and<br />

ownership of technology that meets their<br />

specific needs, respects their autonomy<br />

and ensures more value is realised within<br />

a place”.<br />

Praising the Bristol Cable’s efforts, it<br />

said: “Off-the-shelf back-office software<br />

was too expensive, and also not suited to<br />

their needs. So they have been building<br />

their systems for membership management<br />

and democratic participation. In doing<br />

this, they will actively preserve members’<br />

privacy by keeping all their data in-house,<br />

rather than on third-party platforms.<br />

“This bespoke customer-relationship<br />

management (CRM) system is sustainable,<br />

community-driven, and fully accountable<br />

to its members.”<br />

RETAIL<br />

Scotmid CEO celebrates 30 years at the society<br />

John Brodie MBE trained and qualified as<br />

a Chartered Accountant, working eight<br />

years in practice before joining Scotmid<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> in 1993 as Financial <strong>Co</strong>ntroller. He<br />

took over as CEO 18 years ago.<br />

Brodie has been a Scottish Retail<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nsortium (SRC) Board member since<br />

2015 and also represents Scotmid on a<br />

number of boards. He is a member of the<br />

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity<br />

(formally SKFF) and has served as SRC<br />

chair since 1 January 2018. In 2018, he was<br />

awarded an MBE for services to business<br />

and the voluntary sector in Scotland.<br />

Scotmid is the largest independent co-<strong>op</strong><br />

in Scotland with around 280 retail outlets<br />

employing approximately 4,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le in<br />

Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.<br />

10 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


Welsh dairy co-<strong>op</strong> wins<br />

business award after<br />

notching up record sales<br />

South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC),<br />

a farmer-owned dairy co-<strong>op</strong> based in<br />

Gwynedd, was named Large Business of<br />

the Year in North Wales at the Daily Post<br />

Business Awards.<br />

It is the latest in a row of awards for<br />

Wales’s oldest dairy co-<strong>op</strong>, which picked<br />

up 70 cheese and butter making awards<br />

last year, including three gold global<br />

prizes at the International Cheese and<br />

Dairy Awards. A year of growth helped its<br />

business awards win, with a 17% increase<br />

in turnover and a 20% rise in profits<br />

to £4.1m.<br />

Farmer director Gareth Jenkins said: “It<br />

has not been easy over <strong>Co</strong>vid but has been<br />

a team effort with all the farmer owners –<br />

154 of us.<br />

“We supply the quality milk to the<br />

factory and we have excellent staff and<br />

management there. <strong>Co</strong>ngratulations to all<br />

the team.”<br />

Managing director Alan Wyn Jones<br />

said: “Our strategic objective over the<br />

next few years is to achieve a five per<br />

cent <strong>op</strong>erating profit, which is above<br />

average in the sector. We pride ourselves<br />

on producing Welsh cheese of exceptional<br />

quality and we have all of the required<br />

national accreditations in place to exceed<br />

standards and provide peace of mind for<br />

our customers, thanks to an AA rating<br />

from the British Retail <strong>Co</strong>nsortium and<br />

Red Tractor Farm Assurance.<br />

“Once the milk is collected all the cheese<br />

is produced and packed on site, giving us<br />

complete control over the process.<br />

“We’re proud of our Welsh roots, so<br />

much so that we have a policy to only<br />

process Welsh milk and use the Welsh<br />

language on our packaging.<br />

“The creamery’s flagship Dragon brand<br />

now makes up 10% of the business and<br />

we have plans to increase this over the<br />

coming years.”<br />

East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> gives trees to the community<br />

East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> members in<br />

Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are being<br />

invited to apply for one of 250 trees that<br />

the retailer is giving away as part of the<br />

Queen’s Green Can<strong>op</strong>y.<br />

The can<strong>op</strong>y is a nationwide initiative to<br />

create a living legacy in memory of Queen<br />

Elizabeth II, with over a million trees<br />

planted in her name.<br />

Regulator to investigate sale of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group petrol stations<br />

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

The <strong>Co</strong>mpetition and Markets Authority<br />

is to conduct a merger inquiry into the<br />

£600m sale of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group petrol stations<br />

to Asda.<br />

The deal, agreed last August, involves<br />

129 convenience stores of between 1,500<br />

and 3,000 sq ft, with attached petrol<br />

stations, and three devel<strong>op</strong>ment sites<br />

spread across the UK.<br />

Heart of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> reports festive sales boost<br />

Heart of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has reported an<br />

increase in sales during the run-up to<br />

Christmas, compared with the festive<br />

trading period in 2021.<br />

The member-owned retailer saw a total<br />

sales rise of 6.83% from December 19-24,<br />

bringing in more than £2m for the week.<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> awards £27,750 in <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Dividend Fund<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has awarded £27,750 to 32<br />

charities and good causes in the latest<br />

round from its <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Dividend Fund,<br />

handed out in October and November.<br />

The retail society invests a percentage<br />

of its trading profit into local communities<br />

through the fund, and between January<br />

and November 2022, £167,734 was shared<br />

out between 153 causes.<br />

Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> raises £150k for mental health services<br />

Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has raised £153,153<br />

through its <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Champions<br />

scheme for causes providing mental health<br />

services aiming to prevent suicide.<br />

Members, customers, and colleagues<br />

all contributed to this fundraising total<br />

by sh<strong>op</strong>ping with their dividend cards<br />

which amounted to £47,500, and dr<strong>op</strong>ping<br />

change in collection boxes totalling more<br />

than £10,000.<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 11

RETAIL<br />

Edinburgh Bicycle <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative partners with Giant to <strong>op</strong>en new store<br />

The UK’s longest-running bike co-<strong>op</strong> has<br />

partnered with cycle brand Giant to <strong>op</strong>en<br />

a new store in Edinburgh.<br />

Giant Store Edinburgh <strong>op</strong>ened in<br />

December on Hamilton Place, Stockbridge,<br />

in partnership with Edinburgh Bicycle<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative. The new store, the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

sixth in the UK, exclusively stocks Giant<br />

road, commuter and kids’ bikes, as well as<br />

e-bikes. Customers can also sh<strong>op</strong> for bikes<br />

designed specifically for women through<br />

Giant’s Liv brand.<br />

Worker-owned Edinburgh Bicycle<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative has been running since 1977,<br />

when it <strong>op</strong>ened its first store in Bruntsfield,<br />

Edinburgh. In addition to the Bruntsfield<br />

store, Edinburgh Bicycle <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative now<br />

has a store in Canonmills, Edinburgh, as<br />

well as in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Leeds,<br />

all of which are <strong>op</strong>en seven days a week.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s managing director,<br />

Alan Nestor, told BikeBiz: “Edinburgh<br />

Bicycle <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> has over 45 years of<br />

experience serving cyclists in the capital<br />

city and has worked with Giant for many<br />

years; we share many values and are both<br />

totally focused on delivering the very best<br />

for all riders.”<br />

THE ARTS<br />

Sister Midnight confirms Lewisham site for community-owned music venue<br />

Sister Midnight, the arts co-<strong>op</strong> looking to<br />

create a community-owned music venue<br />

in Lewisham, has secured an in-principle<br />

meanwhile use with Lewisham <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

for the Brookdale Club. A former working<br />

men’s club in Catford, the space will be<br />

turned into a 250-capacity live music<br />

venue supporting local musicians.<br />

In 2021, the group launched a community<br />

share offer to bring a Lewisham pub into<br />

community ownership. The campaign<br />

raised over £260,000 from 865 investors,<br />

but an agreement wasn’t reached.<br />

The new venue is owned by a subsidiary<br />

of the local council, who “have been a<br />

huge support,” said Lenny Watson, cofounding<br />

director of Sister Midnight.<br />

“They’ve offered us a lease with a<br />

minimum term of seven years, and the<br />

entire lease is subject to a peppercorn rent<br />

– so effectively we won’t pay any rent for<br />

the whole time we’re there.”<br />

The organisation wants to be “a hub<br />

of creativity and community solidarity,<br />

where we champion the wealth of local<br />

talent that Lewisham is home to, whilst<br />

working to effect positive social change<br />

in our wider community by working in a<br />

number of ways to support wellbeing”.<br />

They also h<strong>op</strong>e the venue “will set a<br />

precedent for community-led regeneration<br />

of local areas, and give everyone in our<br />

community a voice in what we’re doing”.<br />

Watson added: “We h<strong>op</strong>e this<br />

demonstrates that co-<strong>op</strong> models are a<br />

powerful tool that represent a viable future<br />

p Sister Midnight co-founders Lenny Watson, Lottie Pendlebury and S<strong>op</strong>hie Farrell with Mayor<br />

of Lewisham, Damien Egan<br />

for cultural spaces, which have long been<br />

strangled by profit-driven models that<br />

don’t centre the pe<strong>op</strong>le who make these<br />

spaces so special. We also h<strong>op</strong>e Sister<br />

Midnight, in being run by three women<br />

under 30, inspires other young pe<strong>op</strong>le to<br />

get involved in co-<strong>op</strong>s, especially women,<br />

non-binary, and other minoritised gender<br />

groups who are underrepresented in the<br />

movement.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> is re<strong>op</strong>ening its community<br />

share offer for a second round of<br />

investment to help raise the remaining<br />

funds needed to renovate the site. “There’s<br />

a lot of work to be done (including a new<br />

roof!) so we’re a way off <strong>op</strong>ening yet,” said<br />

Watson, “but we are so excited to throw<br />

the doors <strong>op</strong>en and celebrate with the<br />

amazing community that have worked<br />

alongside us to make this happen.”<br />

The news of the new venue was shared<br />

at a community meeting on 25 January,<br />

following a meeting with Lewisham<br />

Mayor, Damien Egan to discuss the site. An<br />

impromptu vote agreed to name the venue<br />

Sister Midnight, “in acknowledgement<br />

of the name having become synonymous<br />

with local co-<strong>op</strong>eration, community<br />

solidarity, and leading the way on a new<br />

model for supporting culture”.<br />

Watson added: “We were overwhelmed<br />

by the turnout to the meeting, it made<br />

us immensely proud to be part of the<br />

wonderful South London community.<br />

We’ve still got challenges ahead, but we feel<br />

more confident than ever that we can pull<br />

this off – it’s amazing what can be achieved<br />

by local pe<strong>op</strong>le working together.”<br />

Cllr James Walsh, Lewisham cabinet<br />

member for culture added: “I’m delighted<br />

that Lewisham <strong>Co</strong>uncil continue to<br />

show commitment to enabling quality<br />

grassroots arts and culture as legacy to<br />

our year as London Borough of Culture.”<br />

12 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


New chief of LV= pledges support for principles of mutualism<br />

The new CEO of insurance mutual LV=,<br />

David Hynam, promised a “new era” for<br />

the organisation in an interview with the<br />

Mail on Sunday in January.<br />

Hynam took the reigns of the 180-yearold<br />

insurer – an icon of the UK mutual<br />

movement – in September, following<br />

the failed bid by his predecessor Mark<br />

Hartigan to sell the business to US private<br />

equity firm Bain Capital.<br />

He told the newspaper that he and new<br />

LV= chair Simon Moore “’are absolutely<br />

committed to being part of the mutual<br />

sector, adding that he will throw his<br />

weight behind the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives, Mutuals<br />

and Friendly Societies Bill tabled in<br />

Parliament by Labour MP Mark Hendrick.<br />

Elements of Sir Mark’s bill have received<br />

the backing of the Treasury, and would<br />

give co-<strong>op</strong>eratives the <strong>op</strong>tion of legally<br />

guaranteeing that some or all of their<br />

assets are held in common and nondistributable<br />

among members.<br />

It is h<strong>op</strong>ed the bill will reduce the risk of<br />

demutualisation for the sector and protect<br />

assets in the long term for members.<br />

This follows a storm of protest over<br />

the bid to sell LV=, which saw a fierce<br />

campaign from the press, including<br />

the Mail, and MPs on the All Party<br />

Parliamentary Group on Mutuals, led by<br />

Labour/<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> MP Gareth Thomas.<br />

“We are a big supporter of the bill,”<br />

Hynam told the Mail.<br />

Asked about claims by former executives<br />

trying to sell the business that it was not<br />

sustainable as a mutual, he said: “All I<br />

p David Hynam, new CEO of LV= (Image: LV=)<br />

can talk about is how I see it now, and I do<br />

think it is sustainable. We see ourselves in<br />

the mutual sector and have no intention of<br />

being anywhere else.”<br />

After members rejected the Bain deal,<br />

LV= held unsuccessful merger talks with<br />

another mutual, Royal London. Hynam<br />

said there were no plans to merge LV=<br />

with any other organisation.<br />

Looking ahead, he said: “It is more<br />

important for mutuals to have good<br />

financial discipline than it is for listed<br />

companies. It is members’ money, and you<br />

should look after it as if it were your own.”<br />

He added that he was happy with LV=’s<br />

capital position and is more concerned<br />

about a previous lack of investment than<br />

debt; as such, the business is planning a<br />

strategic spend over the next five years,<br />

focusing on data, service and IT.<br />

“It has been a difficult time at LV over the<br />

past year or two, but we are now on a nice<br />

stable footing … I want the organisation<br />

to move forward. There is a risk that a<br />

transaction that never happened is stuck<br />

on a permanent cycle, and that is not good<br />

for members or the organisation.”<br />

As for the mutual model, he said it has<br />

the advantage of allowing a long-term<br />

view “because we don’t have shareholders<br />

breathing down our neck”.<br />

Mutuals are also “very focused”, he<br />

argued. “We don’t try to do everything<br />

for everyone, and we don’t have a lot of<br />

products out there. We are not trying to<br />

stretch the envel<strong>op</strong>e all over the place.<br />

“Our members told us clearly in a vote<br />

they wanted to be a mutual. That is the<br />

mandate they have given me. I think there<br />

is an <strong>op</strong>portunity to revitalise. We want a<br />

modern mutual sector.’<br />

Responding to the comments, Gareth<br />

Thomas MP said: “I welcome the change<br />

in direction from Mr Hyman and Mr<br />

Moore. It’s good to see LV in safer hands<br />

now and backing the modernisation of the<br />

rules and regulations governing. What we<br />

need now is ministers determined to help<br />

make it easier for mutuals like LV to raise<br />

the capital they need to offer new services<br />

and expand.”<br />

p The LV= office in Bournemouth (Image: LV=)<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 13


GLOBAL<br />

ICA hunts for a<br />

new director general as<br />

Bruno Roelants retires<br />

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

(ICA) has begun the recruitment process<br />

for a new director general, replacing<br />

Bruno Roelants who is due to retire.<br />

The ICA says it wants “an<br />

inspirational, forward-thinking leader<br />

who is passionate about the ability of the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative and mutual sectors of<br />

the global economy to create positive<br />

change for pe<strong>op</strong>le in the quality of their<br />

daily lives”.<br />

Roelants, who is retiring after five years<br />

in the role, also previously spent 16 years<br />

at Cic<strong>op</strong>a, the International Organisation<br />

of Industrial and Service <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

In its job specification, the ICA says<br />

candidates must have strategic vision to<br />

help the organisation seek <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

for membership growth and new sources<br />

of funding, while maintaining focus on<br />

economic and cultural trends to ensure its<br />

continuing relevance.<br />

The ICA is also looking for relationshipbuilding<br />

and facilitation skills focused<br />

on forming long-term partnerships with<br />

international institutions such as United<br />

Nations agencies, the G20, and global<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment organisations. And it requires<br />

“sensitivity to the cultural differences<br />

among ICA members that are central to<br />

reaching common ground on policy and<br />

related issues and a personal commitment<br />

to cultural inclusion”.<br />

The closing date for applicants is<br />

3 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Icmif highlights sustainability link for multi-billion assets<br />

A report by the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and Mutual Insurance Federation<br />

(Icmif) shows its members are managing<br />

US$759bn (£613bn) worth of assets linked<br />

to sustainable investment frameworks.<br />

This is a 32% rise from the $576bn<br />

(£465bn) invested by members in 2021,<br />

says the Icmif Members Sustainable<br />

Investment Report 2022, released last<br />

month.<br />

The report is based on the federation’s<br />

Sustainable Investment Framework survey,<br />

which drew responses from 20% of its<br />

membership. Respondents represented<br />

74% of Icmif‘s members’ assets under<br />

management for 2021, equating to $1.5tn<br />

(£1.21tn).<br />

It reveals how Icmif’s members are<br />

collectively involved in sustainable<br />

investment frameworks, including green<br />

bonds, social bonds and resilience bonds<br />

– many of which target climate change.<br />

Icmif members use multiple investment<br />

frameworks, the report finds, with<br />

the United Nations Environment<br />

Programme Finance Initiative Principles<br />

for Responsible Investment (UNEP FI<br />

PRI) and the Principles for Sustainable<br />

Insurance (PSI) among the t<strong>op</strong> choices.<br />

Some 55% of respondents invest<br />

ICMIF Members<br />

Sustainable Investment Report 2022<br />

in impact investing, up from 46% in<br />

2020 to 15.6bn. Around 85% said their<br />

organisation invested in sustainable<br />

bonds including green bonds and<br />

resilience bonds, amounting to $16.9bn<br />

(£13.65bn) – up 40% on $12.1bn (£9.78bn)<br />

in 2021. Furthermore, 37% of respondents<br />

have made net-zero commitments, up<br />

from 18% last year.<br />

Icmif CEO Shaun Tarbuck said: “The<br />

results are testament to how our members<br />

have gone from strength to strength since<br />

the inception of this survey in 2019. Our<br />

latest findings show continued, solid<br />

forward-momentum from the mutual and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurance sector towards a<br />

greener future.<br />

“It is well documented that sustainable<br />

initiatives improve a company’s financial<br />

performance; improve efficiency; re duce<br />

costs; and drive change. This allows<br />

the business to gain a competitive edge<br />

as well as significantly enhance the<br />

business’s image to employees, potential<br />

employees and other stakeholders such<br />

as member policyholders and investors.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> and mutual insurance sector<br />

is ideally placed to take a lead in the<br />

field of sustainability and sustainable<br />

investments to form a coalition of the<br />

willing.”<br />

Mutuals and co-<strong>op</strong>s account for 30% of<br />

the world’s insurance market with $10tn<br />

in assets.<br />

Full report: bit.ly/3WjG3o6<br />

14 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


Members of co-<strong>op</strong> bank NewB approve partnership with vdk<br />

Members of Brussels-based NewB bank<br />

voted in favour of a partnership with vdk<br />

bank at an extraordinary general meeting<br />

on 14 January.<br />

The move comes after NewB ran into<br />

trouble with the regulators over its<br />

failure to meet a €40m (£35.20m) capital<br />

requirement.<br />

Under the agreement, NewB will become<br />

a banking and investment agent for vdk.<br />

This means that NewB will no longer<br />

have a banking licence. The meeting also<br />

approved changes to NewB’s statues to<br />

enable the agreement. While the articles<br />

of association already authorised NewB to<br />

act also as an intermediary in insurance<br />

and investment services, they did not<br />

authorise it to act as an intermediary in<br />

banking services.<br />

Following the loss of the banking<br />

license and in view of the collaboration<br />

with vdk bank, it was also necessary to<br />

modify NewB’s ‘social purpose’ and add<br />

intermediary in banking services to the<br />

list of activities that may be carried out. As<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>erative society, rather than a bank,<br />

NewB will have to meet lower capital<br />

requirements.<br />

NewB’s banking clients will be<br />

transferred to vdk, subject to the<br />

regulator’s approval. NewB will be<br />

compensated for this clientele via an<br />

indemnity pr<strong>op</strong>ortional to the amounts<br />

held by in the current accounts,<br />

savings and investment fund accounts<br />

transferred.<br />

At the same time, NewB will continue<br />

to act as an insurance agent for mutual<br />

Monceau. The agreement will also allow<br />

NewB to become the intermediary for<br />

VDK bank’s French-speaking customers<br />

in banking and investment services –<br />

for which it will receive a compensation<br />

from vdk pr<strong>op</strong>ortional to the volumes<br />

of products and services used by its<br />

customers.<br />

According to vdk bank, NewB customers<br />

will have access to the new vdk bank<br />

products and services as of April this<br />

year. Meanwhile, NewB’s Dutch speaking<br />

customers will be served by one of vdk’s<br />

60 or so branches, unless they specifically<br />

request to continue to be served by NewB,<br />

in which case the latter will provide<br />

remote digital services for them.<br />

p NewB held an extraordinary general meeting on 14 January (Image: ©NewB)<br />

Although NewB will not have a seat on<br />

official governance bodies of vdk bank,<br />

in the event of reaching a certain level of<br />

business, NewB could be able to pr<strong>op</strong>ose a<br />

member to the board of vdk bank. In such<br />

an event, the pr<strong>op</strong>osal will be examined<br />

by both parties, within the existing<br />

regulatory framework for banks.<br />

The amendment to the articles of<br />

association was approved with 95%<br />

of votes among the individual co<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

and civil society organisations.<br />

Meanwhile, the institutional actors<br />

voted unanimously in favour of the<br />

amendments. As such, the required 80%<br />

threshold was met.<br />

Bernard Bayot, chair of the board of<br />

NewB, said: “Our co-<strong>op</strong>erators have sent a<br />

particularly strong signal today. They feel<br />

there is a big need for a Belgian bank in<br />

the service of our planet and society. And<br />

they have truly voted for the alliance of<br />

their co-<strong>op</strong>erative with vdk bank, which<br />

will allow them to achieve this ambition<br />

more quickly and more completely. We<br />

are impatient to begin this collaboration,<br />

which will allow the emergence of a solid<br />

and sustainable bank for all pe<strong>op</strong>le in<br />

Belgium.”<br />

Leen Van den Neste, chair of the<br />

management board of vdk, said: “We are<br />

extremely satisfied with the result of the<br />

vote. The fact that such a large majority<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>erators say ‘Yes’ to our common<br />

project gives us wings. We look forward to<br />

welcoming NewB customers and making<br />

sustainable banking a reality for the<br />

whole of Belgium with NewB.”<br />

She added: “Our ambition is clear: we<br />

are in the process of building a solid and<br />

sustainable bank for all of Belgium. All<br />

the lights are now green for it. We are<br />

delighted.”<br />

Launched in 2019, NewB obtained<br />

its banking licence in January 2020. Its<br />

products included accounts, payment<br />

cards, insurance, investment products<br />

and green credits, with a total of 20,000<br />

clients with €180m in deposits. In 2022 the<br />

bank was placed under the supervision<br />

of a court-appointed administrator last<br />

year after failing to meet a €40m capital<br />

requirement set by the National Bank of<br />

Belgium.<br />

In response, NewB launched a<br />

petition on 22 September 2022 calling for<br />

an ethical and sustainable bank which<br />

attracted signatures from 37,060 citizens<br />

and 110 organisations. The bank also<br />

launched two online forums, in French<br />

and Dutch, which brought together over<br />

700 pe<strong>op</strong>le to discuss its activities and<br />

plans.<br />

A Flemmish co-<strong>op</strong>erative bank rooted<br />

in the Christian labour movement, vdk<br />

has similar policies to NewB – it excludes<br />

fossil fuels from its investment portfolio<br />

and is a member of the Global Alliance for<br />

Banking on Values.<br />

The two co-<strong>op</strong>eratives have not<br />

disclosed how much vdk will be paying<br />

for NewB’s customer portfolio.<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 15


ICOS co-<strong>op</strong> apex launches survey of farmers on sustainability<br />

The Irish <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Organisation<br />

Society (ICOS) has launched a survey of<br />

farmers to offer them a voice in “future<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative processes” as it looks to drive<br />

sustainable agricultural practices.<br />

The research is funded by the Golden<br />

Jubilee Trust, a philanthr<strong>op</strong>ic organisation<br />

whose objective is to improve and devel<strong>op</strong><br />

Irish agricultural and rural life.<br />

ICOS represents around 130 co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

including farms, dairy processors and<br />

livestock marts and has over 150,000<br />

individual members; its co-<strong>op</strong>s have a<br />

combined turnover of €14bn and employ<br />

more than 12,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

It wants farmers from all sectors<br />

and all farm sizes to take part in the<br />

survey, which follows a recent gathering<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>erative industry leaders and<br />

environmental experts at a national<br />

bioeconomy worksh<strong>op</strong> organised by ICOS.<br />

This discussed progress already being<br />

achieved by the industry and the potential<br />

to accelerate this.<br />

From that meeting, ICOS says it is<br />

establishing a ‘co-<strong>op</strong>erative framework’<br />

for Irish co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to share information<br />

and best practice on sustainability and the<br />

bioeconomy. The results of the survey will<br />

be combined with the recommendations of<br />

the national bioeconomy worksh<strong>op</strong> and the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative framework. ICOS says this will<br />

drive strategy, with a series of measures to<br />

be delivered from this year onwards.<br />

“It’s essential for us to hear directly<br />

from farmers in every community across<br />

Ireland so that their views can be included<br />

in our future co-<strong>op</strong>erative processes<br />

aimed at ensuring the sustainability of<br />

Irish agriculture now and for the future,”<br />

said ICOS bioeconomy executive John<br />

Brosnan.<br />

“This forms part of our larger research<br />

programme into farmer attitudes and<br />

intentions on sustainability measures and<br />

the bioeconomy generally which has been<br />

supported by the Golden Jubilee Trust.<br />

“Implementing projects centred<br />

around bioeconomy principles will allow<br />

for greater value to be unlocked from<br />

the food, feed, fibres, chemicals, fuels<br />

and energy that we can derive from our<br />

land, cr<strong>op</strong>s and natural resources. What<br />

was once considered a ‘waste’ is now a<br />

valuable by-product or co-product.<br />

“By moving towards new business<br />

models, the ‘win-win’ of helping climate,<br />

biodiversity and water quality can be<br />

coupled with greater economic return and<br />

sustainability for farmers and agriculture<br />

in general.”<br />

ICOS says the online survey is entirely<br />

confidential and takes about 10 minutes<br />

to complete. Farmers can find it on the<br />

news section of the ICOS website.<br />

SERBIA<br />

Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir<br />

starts work on country’s<br />

first co-<strong>op</strong> solar sites<br />

Serbia’s first two co-<strong>op</strong> energy sites are<br />

due to be installed this spring, following<br />

the successful fundraising efforts of<br />

energy co-<strong>op</strong> Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir.<br />

The Solarna Stara project will install<br />

two solar power systems on the Stara<br />

planina mountain, in south-east Serbia.<br />

The solar panels will be on the roofs of<br />

a local council building in the village of<br />

Temska and on the cultural centre in the<br />

village of Dojkinci.<br />

Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir co-founder Ana Džokić<br />

told Balkan Green Energy <strong>News</strong> that the<br />

project is a partnership between the local<br />

authorities who own the buildings, the<br />

local community associations who use<br />

them, and Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir. A contract has<br />

been drawn up between the three parties,<br />

which when signed will lay out the terms<br />

for future co-<strong>op</strong>eration.<br />

The revenues from the energy will be<br />

distributed across local initiatives and<br />

projects, says Džokić.<br />

Last June, Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir launched<br />

a crowdfunder to support the Solarna<br />

Stara project. In one month, 229 donors<br />

donated a total of RSD 972,452.00 (GBP<br />

£7,311), 116% of the target amount. The<br />

extra funds have allowed the project to<br />

add two more solar panels, raising its<br />

power from an expected 5.25 kWp to 6<br />

kWp.<br />

Founded in 2019, Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir is one<br />

of just two energy co-<strong>op</strong>s in Serbia. The<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative has members from cities and<br />

towns across the country and is not tied<br />

to a specific region. Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir was<br />

founded with the aim of democratising<br />

energy and works to enable citizens to be<br />

actors in the energy transition.<br />

With the Solarna Stara project,<br />

Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir says that it wants to “show<br />

that all citizens can be initiators of change<br />

towards sustainable energy and that this<br />

is not a position reserved exclusively for<br />

large investors”.<br />

Elektr<strong>op</strong>ionir states that “energy must<br />

be clean and can be jointly owned”,<br />

adding: “The co-<strong>op</strong>erative tradition exists<br />

in Serbia, and now we apply it to the<br />

production of energy from sustainable<br />

sources.<br />

“Our first co-<strong>op</strong>erative rooft<strong>op</strong> solar<br />

power plants on Stara planina will be a<br />

demonstrative example that, through the<br />

association of citizens and solidarity, we<br />

are ready to turn from destructive and<br />

unsustainable technologies to greener<br />

and nobler solutions.”<br />

16 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


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

CBH boosts investment<br />

to help process<br />

increased harvests<br />

Grower-owned grain co-<strong>op</strong> CBH Group,<br />

based in Western Australia, says it will<br />

continue its increased investment in its<br />

network,following record exports in 2022.<br />

CEO Ben Macnamara said other<br />

unprecedented factors included the<br />

ongoing fallout from <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and<br />

domestic labour shortages, and the<br />

record harvest put the co-<strong>op</strong>’s network<br />

under pressure.<br />

“For the first time in our co-<strong>op</strong>’s history,<br />

the record 2021/22 receivals of 21.3 million<br />

tonnes exceeded the logistical capacity of<br />

the network, with the size of the cr<strong>op</strong> 50%<br />

bigger than the five-year average.<br />

“Unsurprisingly, the record harvest<br />

placed pressure on the supply chain, but<br />

our pe<strong>op</strong>le worked together to overcome<br />

all the challenges thrown at them to<br />

receive, store and outturn the cr<strong>op</strong>,<br />

while also delivering the largest network<br />

investment programme on record, and<br />

navigating through significant global<br />

market volatility.<br />

“I’m especially pleased to say that<br />

the team were able to achieve all this<br />

safely, with the team reporting the safest<br />

12-month period on record.<br />

“The record 18.1 million tonnes that the<br />

team delivered to our international and<br />

domestic customers is testament to the<br />

resilience of the network and should put<br />

to bed any commentary that the supply<br />

chain is broken.”<br />

He added: “While we were able to<br />

mitigate some of the significant pressure<br />

throughout the year, it highlights the need<br />

to continue our increased investment<br />

in the network so we can improve our<br />

logistical capacity, particularly with<br />

moving grain from upcountry to port.”<br />

Macnamara said the co-<strong>op</strong>’s strong<br />

financial result – with a record net profit<br />

after tax of AU$497.7m (£286m) “positions<br />

us well to continue the investment in<br />

the network over the coming years and<br />

execute the vision of our ‘Path to 2033’<br />

Strategy.”<br />

The key driver for the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

performance was the Marketing and<br />

Trading division, which reported a<br />

surplus of $437.9m (£251m). The division<br />

accumulated 50% of the record Western<br />

Australia cr<strong>op</strong> and paid a record $5bn to<br />

growers during the year.<br />

The division will retain 62% of its<br />

surplus to bolster its equity position,<br />

allowing it to purchase the current and<br />

forecast larger cr<strong>op</strong>s, manage market risk<br />

and offer higher prices for growers.<br />

The remaining 38% or $168m (£96.54m)<br />

will be reinvested in the network in<br />

line with the CBH Strategy, which was<br />

refreshed during the year.<br />

Operations recorded a surplus of $57.9m<br />

(£33.27m) driven by record receipt of 21.3<br />

million tonnes combined with strong<br />

shipping demand.<br />

While the team safely received the<br />

record harvest, the size of the cr<strong>op</strong><br />

challenged the outloading programme,<br />

which was compounded by disruptions<br />

from <strong>Co</strong>vid-related absenteeism and<br />

labour shortages, including truck and<br />

train driver availability.<br />

“Despite these challenges, the team<br />

came together along with existing<br />

and new contractors and growers, to<br />

collectively export 16.7 million tonnes<br />

and deliver 1.4 million tonnes to domestic<br />

customers,” said Macnamara.<br />

CBH’s fertiliser business reported an<br />

11% increase in tonnes sold, with a new<br />

purpose-built facility in Kwinana due to<br />

start supply early this year.<br />

In 2022, the co-<strong>op</strong> invested a record<br />

$348m to improve its network, including<br />

three site expansion projects, more than<br />

230 sustaining capital projects, a large<br />

maintenance programme and preparation<br />

for another massive 2022/23 harvest.<br />

“We currently have a once-in-a-lifetime<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to strengthen and reinvest<br />

in the co-<strong>op</strong>erative,” said Macnamara.<br />

“It is that type of forward-looking vision<br />

that allowed the co-<strong>op</strong>erative to deliver<br />

major projects such as the Kwinana Grain<br />

Terminal in the 1970s, which are still<br />

delivering value growers today.<br />

“While we have invested significantly<br />

in the network over the past five years, we<br />

are committed to investing a further $4bn<br />

(£2.30bn) over the next decade, which<br />

is crucial to increase the capacity of the<br />

network and deliver sustainable, long-term<br />

value for Western Australian growers.”<br />

Meanwhile, CBH’s Marketing & Trading<br />

division hitting the $2bn (£1.15bn) mark in<br />

total payments to growers during the first<br />

week of <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Chief marketing and trading officer<br />

Jason Craig, said: “WA growers have<br />

shown enduring commitment and<br />

patience as we have worked through<br />

significant challenges this year. These<br />

financial milestones represent the long,<br />

hard work put in by WA growers and their<br />

families and underscore our unwavering<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative commitment to delivering<br />

value for them.”<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 17

USA<br />

Fellowship call from the Institute for the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Digital Economy<br />

The Institute for the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Digital<br />

Economy (ICDE), based at the New School<br />

in New York City, is seeking applications<br />

for its <strong>2023</strong>/2024 cohort of fellows that will<br />

focus on the nexus of the climate crisis,<br />

the digital economy, and co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The non-residential programme, now in<br />

its third cohort, is accessible to activists<br />

and academics (often Ph.D. students)<br />

from a wide range of disciplines and<br />

backgrounds, including economics,<br />

sociology, political science, anthr<strong>op</strong>ology,<br />

business and labour studies.<br />

The Institute is also seeking two artists<br />

to join the fellowship cohort and use their<br />

creative practices to investigate the nexus<br />

of art, environmental justice, and co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The programme runs for one year,<br />

beginning on March 15, <strong>2023</strong>, and will<br />

provide fellows with a stipend to attend<br />

the <strong>2023</strong> conference, which will probably<br />

be held in India.<br />

Founded in 2019, the ICDE is the<br />

research division of the Platform<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativism <strong>Co</strong>nsortium (PCC),<br />

and investigates business models and<br />

strategies that encourage co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

ownership and democratic governance in<br />

the digital economy.<br />

It says its work “is particularly urgent<br />

given the rapid changes occurring in the<br />

digital economy. Advances in artificial<br />

intelligence, automation, and data<br />

processing are shifting responsibilities<br />

from workers to machines. It is essential to<br />

understand and address these disruptions<br />

in order to navigate the challenges<br />

they present and create a fair future of<br />

work. To navigate these disruptions, we<br />

need research that imagines, builds,<br />

and explores new visions of fair work.<br />

One potential solution is the ad<strong>op</strong>tion<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles in the digital<br />

economy.”<br />

It adds: “The Institute is committed to<br />

filling these research gaps by providing<br />

platform co-<strong>op</strong>eratives with applied<br />

and theoretical knowledge, education,<br />

and policy analysis. We are dedicated<br />

to building a fair future of work based<br />

on relevant research and imaginative<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osals. Our goal is to create a body<br />

of knowledge that advances platform<br />

ownership and democratic governance for<br />

both workers and all internet users.”<br />

It adds that fellows will “become part<br />

of our community, which provides access<br />

to affiliated faculty and centres at the<br />

New School, former fellows, PCC <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

of Advisor members, hundreds of former<br />

PCC conference speakers, and platform<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> pioneers from around the world.<br />

The fellowship includes monthly online<br />

gatherings, contribution to the annual<br />

PCC conference, and other <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

to connect with the ICDE’s global network<br />

of researchers and co-<strong>op</strong>erators.<br />

The PCC is also running the Platform<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> School – a series of 22 online<br />

learning sessions as part of its efforts<br />

to encourage the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

democratic, co-<strong>op</strong>erative platforms in the<br />

digital economy. Running until 15 July, it<br />

has been devel<strong>op</strong>ed by the Platform <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nsortium alongside more<br />

than 45 organisations from 24 countries,<br />

“to research, learn about, and build<br />

fair, co-<strong>op</strong>erative digital platforms that<br />

promote accountable and fair work”.<br />

Full details fellowships: bit.ly/3WAixTO<br />

Details of the Platform <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> School at<br />

platform.co<strong>op</strong>/school/<br />

INDIA<br />

Data-gathering under way for national co-<strong>op</strong> mapping project<br />

A project is under way to create a national<br />

database of India’s co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, led by<br />

the country’s Ministry of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration.<br />

The Ministry says the National<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Database will provide a<br />

single point of information on co-<strong>op</strong>s in<br />

all sectors across the country, to increase<br />

understanding of the movement and<br />

strengthen it in India.<br />

In a presentation last year, the Ministry<br />

said the database “is envisaged to facilitate<br />

in policy making, improve governance and<br />

improve transparency”, as well as helping<br />

the sector better position itself in the<br />

business environment.<br />

Entries to the database are voluntary for<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, and those wishing to be included<br />

will be asked for static information and<br />

financial figures that will need annual<br />

updates.<br />

The database could potentially be linked<br />

with India’s Government E Market(GEM),<br />

which would enable co-<strong>op</strong>s to sell via this<br />

platform, adds the Ministry.<br />

In 2022, the Ministry held a series<br />

of consultations with stakeholders to<br />

identify sector-specific parameters for<br />

data collection, and produced a set of data<br />

collection templates.<br />

The first phase of devel<strong>op</strong>ment, due for<br />

completion at the end of last year, collected<br />

basic data from co-<strong>op</strong>erative fisheries,<br />

dairy co-<strong>op</strong>s and primary agriculture credit<br />

societies (PACS).<br />

The second phase of data collection<br />

starts in <strong>February</strong>, taking data related to co<strong>op</strong>s’<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations, use of ICT, employment,<br />

economic activities, revenue, expenses,<br />

assets and liabilities.<br />

18 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

GLOBAL<br />

First keynote<br />

speakers announced<br />

for <strong>2023</strong> World Credit<br />

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

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

(Woccu) has announced the first keynote<br />

speakers for its conference, organised for<br />

23–26 July, in Vancouver, Canada.<br />

It is expected to draw credit union board<br />

members, practitioners and executives<br />

from 60 countries, with speakers including<br />

corporate advisors Alison Burns and James<br />

Taylor, writer and researcher Kim Lear,<br />

and broadcaster and author Riaz Meghji.<br />

Burns and Taylor are keynote speakers<br />

on sustainability and future trends who<br />

run the Ethical Futurists platform. Burns<br />

is an award-winning performer, keynote<br />

speaker and expert in business ethics,<br />

sustainability and ethical leadership.<br />

Taylor started his career managing highprofile<br />

rock stars, but for the past 20 years<br />

has been advising CEOs, entrepreneurs,<br />

educators, governments, leaders, writers<br />

and rock stars on how to build innovative<br />

organisations, unlock creative potential<br />

and increase productivity.<br />

Lear is the founder and content director<br />

of Inlay Insights, a generational research<br />

and public speaking firm. She uses a mix of<br />

data, storytelling, humour and actionable<br />

takeaways to discuss the trends that most<br />

impact the bottom line of organisations.<br />

Previously, she was content director at<br />

a research firm dedicated to generational<br />

and millennial trends, drawing on<br />

statistics, stories and case studies.<br />

Meghji is the author of the bestselling<br />

book Every <strong>Co</strong>nversation <strong>Co</strong>unts: The 5<br />

Habits of Human <strong>Co</strong>nnection That Build<br />

Extraordinary Relationships. He has 17<br />

years of television experience which he is<br />

now using to deliver keynote speeches on<br />

the key habits of human connection that<br />

build relationships and move businesses<br />

forward.<br />

The full conference agenda at<br />

wcuc.org. Early-bird registration rates<br />

will be available until 14 April.<br />

Nominations <strong>op</strong>en for two credit union awards<br />

Nominations are now <strong>op</strong>en for two awards<br />

that recognise achievements in the credit<br />

union sector.<br />

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

(Woccu) is inviting nominations for both its<br />

Digital Growth Award and Distinguished<br />

Service Award.<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> Digital Growth Award<br />

will recognise one or more of Woccu’s<br />

member credit unions or associations for<br />

successfully working toward its Challenge<br />

2025 goal of digitising the global credit<br />

union system by 2025.<br />

An independent panel of expert judges<br />

will evaluate the nominees, who will need<br />

to show that they have implemented an<br />

inclusive, innovative and scalable digital<br />

solution.<br />

Last year’s winners were Brazilian credit<br />

union system Sicredi, for CPR Facil – a<br />

digital agribusiness product that allows<br />

members to take out loans using a mobile<br />

phone, and Northpark <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Credit<br />

Union for its Virtual Branching initiative.<br />

“With the Digital Growth Award now<br />

in its third year, we h<strong>op</strong>e to see more<br />

nominations than ever before,” said<br />

Woccu president and CEO Elissa McCarter<br />

LaBorde.<br />

“We are excited to showcase how<br />

credit unions are using innovative digital<br />

solutions to reach underserved p<strong>op</strong>ulations<br />

and to build resilient communities across<br />

the globe.”<br />

The deadline for World <strong>Co</strong>uncil members<br />

to make a nomination for the <strong>2023</strong> Digital<br />

Growth Award is 5:00 pm US Central<br />

Standard Time on 3 March.<br />

Also <strong>op</strong>en for nominations is Woccu’s<br />

<strong>2023</strong> Distinguished Service Award (DSA),<br />

which honours individuals and institutions’<br />

contributions to credit union devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

outside of their home country.<br />

The DSA was first presented in 1986, and<br />

is not an annual award but is presented<br />

based on the merits of individual<br />

nominations. Last year, president and<br />

CEO of Peach State Federal Credit Union,<br />

Marshall Boutwell, was presented with the<br />

award for his work with Polish and British<br />

credit unions.<br />

“Individuals or institutions that have<br />

worked to further World <strong>Co</strong>uncil’s vision<br />

of expanding financial inclusion through<br />

credit unions beyond their national<br />

borders are eligible for the Distinguished<br />

Service Award,” said Thomas Belekevich,<br />

World <strong>Co</strong>uncil director of member services.<br />

“We strongly encourage our member<br />

organisations to nominate any and all<br />

credit union leaders or institutions that<br />

exemplify the international spirit of co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

and service.”<br />

This year’s nomination process is fully<br />

digital, and can be completed online by<br />

World <strong>Co</strong>uncil members before 10 March.<br />

Both the Digital Growth Award and<br />

Distinguished Service recipients will<br />

receive one free registration (per person<br />

or organisation) to the <strong>2023</strong> World Credit<br />

Union <strong>Co</strong>nference in Vancouver, Canada,<br />

July 23-26, where the awards will be<br />

presented.<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 19

EUROPE<br />

Cec<strong>op</strong> welcomes<br />

EU progress towards<br />

the regulation of<br />

platform work<br />

On 12 December the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee on Employment and Social<br />

Affairs (EMPL) ad<strong>op</strong>ted a report on the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s pr<strong>op</strong>osal for a<br />

directive improving working conditions in<br />

platform work. The text, which will serve<br />

as a draft-negotiating mandate on new<br />

rules to improve the working conditions in<br />

platform work, includes new measures to<br />

combat false self-employment in platform<br />

work, a human oversight on all decisions<br />

affecting working conditions and making<br />

platforms share more information with<br />

national authorities.<br />

The text was welcomed by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

confederation of industrial and service<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives (Cec<strong>op</strong>), whose members<br />

include co-<strong>op</strong>s of freelancers, truck<br />

drivers, taxi drivers, journalists, masons,<br />

graphic designers, consultants, doctors<br />

and lawyers, among others.<br />

Under the draft text ad<strong>op</strong>ted by EMPL,<br />

workers for digital labour platforms<br />

are presumed to be in an employment<br />

relationship with the platforms, as<br />

<strong>op</strong>posed to being self-employed. In the<br />

event of a dispute between the platform<br />

and a worker, the platform – rather than<br />

the worker- would have the responsibility<br />

to prove that they do not employ the<br />

worker.<br />

Non-mandatory criteria would also<br />

be introduced to determine a worker’s<br />

employment status, including a set salary,<br />

defined time schedule and working time,<br />

rating systems, tracking or supervision<br />

of a worker, rules regarding appearance<br />

or conduct, restricted <strong>op</strong>tions to work for<br />

any third party or restricted freedom to<br />

choose accident insurance or a pension<br />

scheme.<br />

The text also introduces provisions<br />

to boost the exchange of information<br />

between competent labour, social<br />

protection and tax authorities in crossborder<br />

cases and dissuasive penalties.<br />

Cec<strong>op</strong> welcomed the employment<br />

presumption noting that “while the text<br />

of the report does not <strong>op</strong>enly mention co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

as entities ensuring democratic<br />

p 28 million pe<strong>op</strong>le work in the platform economy in the EU (Image: iStock)<br />

worker representation, it nonetheless<br />

defines workers’ representatives and<br />

representatives of persons performing<br />

platform work in a way that is inclusive of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative business forms.”<br />

The text also recognises “the significant<br />

economic and social role of social economy<br />

entities as an example of participatorygoverned<br />

businesses which use digital<br />

platforms to facilitate citizen engagement<br />

and the selling of locally produced goods<br />

and services, aiming to achieve better<br />

working conditions for their members.” It<br />

adds that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives could constitute<br />

“an important instrument for the bottomup<br />

organisation of platform work and<br />

could encourage competition between<br />

platforms” and calls on member states<br />

to “protect and promote co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

undertakings and small businesses by<br />

means that aim to safeguard employment<br />

and ensure their capacity for sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and growth.”<br />

The report warns that “the use of<br />

subcontracting chains has been used as<br />

a way of circumventing the application<br />

of labour law to platform workers”, and<br />

sets up measures to prevent situations in<br />

which platforms manage to avoid their<br />

employers’ responsibilities through the<br />

use of subcontractors.<br />

Cec<strong>op</strong> also acknowledged the report’s<br />

provisions on transparency, fairness,<br />

human oversight, safety and accountability<br />

in algorithmic management, including for<br />

self-employed workers.<br />

It added: “The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament’s<br />

report represents a significant, progressive<br />

step in regulation of platform work.<br />

According to the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s<br />

estimates, 28 million pe<strong>op</strong>le in the EU<br />

worked through digital labour platforms,<br />

and this number will reach 43 million by<br />

2025. Currently, millions of workers are<br />

misclassified a s s elf-employed, w hich<br />

deprives them of social protection and<br />

labour rights, and undermines honest<br />

businesses, which do comply with the<br />

relevant labour legislation. For co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses in particular, a<br />

stricter Eur<strong>op</strong>ean regulation on digital<br />

labour platforms is important as a way<br />

to ensure level playing field a nd t heir<br />

competitiveness in the single market.<br />

We call on the members of the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Parliament to support EMPL committee’s<br />

report in the plenary vote.”<br />

The text was ad<strong>op</strong>ted with 41 votes to 12<br />

and will act as a negotiating mandate for<br />

the upcoming talks with EU governments.<br />

Elisabetta Gualmini (S&D, IT), the lead<br />

rapporteur, said: “Too many platform<br />

workers today are bogusly self-employed,<br />

stuck in limbo with no labour rights and<br />

social protection. With this report, we<br />

are making sure that they are recognised<br />

as either employees or self-employed,<br />

depending on their actual conditions of<br />

work. Moreover, this is a first crucial step<br />

towards protecting all workers against the<br />

abuse of algorithms. Automated decisionmaking<br />

systems cannot be black boxes;<br />

social partners will be able to negotiate<br />

how algorithms take decisions regarding<br />

working conditions.”<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission estimates<br />

there are 516 platforms <strong>op</strong>erating across<br />

the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Union, with 28 million<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le working for these platforms.<br />

CECOP’s full position on the platform<br />

work directive is available at: bit.<br />

ly/3GMgExu.<br />

20 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

GLOBAL<br />

Informal women<br />

workers’ network Wiego<br />

receives award at Davos<br />

Women in Informal Employment:<br />

Globalizing and Organizing (Wiego), a<br />

global network supporting women in the<br />

informal economy, has been recognised<br />

at the <strong>2023</strong> Schwab Foundation Social<br />

Innovation Awards, held at the World<br />

Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.<br />

One of 16 winners, Wiego received the<br />

award for <strong>Co</strong>llective Social Innovation, a<br />

new accolade introduced to recognise the<br />

growing importance of collaboration in<br />

nurturing grassroots action.<br />

A sister organisation to the WEF,<br />

the Schwab Foundation for Social<br />

Entrepreneurship was set up by Hilde<br />

Schwab and her husband Klaus, executive<br />

chair of the WEF – which met in Davos<br />

from 16 to 20 January under the theme<br />

“<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration in a fragmented world”.<br />

Wiego was represented at the ceremony<br />

by its international coordinator Dr Sally<br />

Roever, Janhavi Dave – international<br />

coordinator of HomeNet International<br />

– and Lorraine Sibanda – president,<br />

StreetNet International. It now joins<br />

Schwab’s global community of 435 social<br />

innovators <strong>op</strong>erating in more than 190<br />

countries, and will be integrated into WEF<br />

meetings and initiatives for three years.<br />

Dr Roever said: “At Wiego, we advocate<br />

for fairer incomes and better working<br />

conditions for workers in the informal<br />

economy: the pe<strong>op</strong>le who feed our cities,<br />

stitch our garments, keep waste out of our<br />

oceans and care for our young and old.”<br />

Wiego sees co-<strong>op</strong>s as an important form<br />

of democratic organisation and solidarity<br />

for informal workers, bringing access to<br />

services and markets and engaging in<br />

collective negotiations. It works with co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

in many regions, including waste<br />

picker co-<strong>op</strong>s in Brazil and women’s<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s in India.<br />

Electric co-<strong>op</strong>s in the Philippines take action to help peers<br />

Electric co-<strong>op</strong>s in the Philippines are<br />

putting principle 6 – co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>s – into action by donating<br />

thousand of electric meters to some of the<br />

movement’s struggling businesses.<br />

Around 47,000 electric meters are<br />

being donated to two energy co-<strong>op</strong>s in<br />

the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in<br />

Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).<br />

Romania’s first non-bank financier for social enterprises<br />

gets nod from regulator<br />

Romanian social enterprises, including<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, will be able to secure loans<br />

from the country’s first non-bank financial<br />

institution dedicated exclusively to social<br />

entrepreneurs.<br />

Set up in May 2022, the Alternative<br />

FINancing Institution (AFIN IFN S.A) this<br />

month received an authorisation from the<br />

National Bank of Romania (BNR).<br />

Woccu gives global update on key regulatory issues<br />

Image: iStock<br />

In its latest annual Global Regulatory<br />

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

(Woccu) says the key issues for the sector<br />

this year will include pr<strong>op</strong>ortionality in<br />

regulation, sustainability and financial<br />

inclusion.<br />

And the apex has repeated its call on<br />

regulators around the world to recognise<br />

the ability of credit unions to weather<br />

financial shocks.<br />

US farmers launch egg co-<strong>op</strong> to strengthen supply chain<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

Eight businesses have joined forces<br />

to form a new egg farmer co-<strong>op</strong> in the<br />

western United States.<br />

ProEgg says that its members are<br />

pooling their eggs together with the aim of<br />

creating a more stable and consistent egg<br />

supply chain across the 13 states it serves.<br />

Multi-state seed co-<strong>op</strong> launched in India to drive productivity<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

The Indian government has approved the<br />

incorporation of a new multi-state seed<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> called Bharatiya Sahakari Beej<br />

Samit (BSBS).<br />

Five co-<strong>op</strong>erative societies including<br />

the Indian Farmers Fertiliser <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Limited (IFFCO) and the National Diary<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Board (NDDB) will be the<br />

promoters of the co-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 21

MEET<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncillor Louise Gittins<br />

Chair of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncils’<br />

Innovation Network<br />

Louise became the leader of Cheshire West and Chester <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

in 2019, and says that from the start, she has embedded co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

values and principles into her work. One of her first<br />

objectives was for the <strong>Co</strong>uncil to become a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

and join the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncils’ Innovation Network, of<br />

which she was recently elected chair.<br />



I have been an active member of the Labour Party<br />

since 1999 and always helped out in local and<br />

national elections. In 2011 I was the candidate in<br />

a ward where I live, for the newly formed Cheshire<br />

West and Chester <strong>Co</strong>uncil. I wasn’t expected to win,<br />

but I did and made it my pledge to work hard for<br />

and with my local community.<br />

The Labour group was in <strong>op</strong>position until the<br />

2015 all out elections. When we took control of<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>uncil, I was deputy leader until the 2019<br />

elections and became leader when Samantha<br />

Dixon stood down as leader after the elections (Sam<br />

is now the new MP for Chester City <strong>Co</strong>nstituency).<br />

As well as chairing the CCIN, I am chair of the<br />

Local Government Association (LGA) Children and<br />

Young Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s board, Cheshire and Merseyside<br />

Health Care partnership and vice chair of transport<br />

for the North. I am passionate about improving<br />

health inequalities and the subsequent role of local<br />

As chair of the CCIN I will bring<br />

passion and enthusiasm and a<br />

drive to spread the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

word and increase our network<br />

across the country.<br />

government, whilst recognising that co-<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

collaboration, and partnership working is how we<br />

get things done!<br />


I was always aware of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative party and<br />

the model of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives but then learnt about<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncils during an inspirational<br />

presentation at an LGA conference in 2015. The<br />

presentation highlighted the benefits and gave<br />

examples of co-<strong>op</strong>erative working underpinned by<br />

values and principles.<br />



In 2019 I became leader of Cheshire West and<br />

Chester <strong>Co</strong>uncil: one of my first objectives was for<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>uncil to join CCIN and become a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil. The values of CCIN closely aligned to both<br />

our values as a <strong>Co</strong>uncil and my own personal<br />

mission to build a stronger, fairer, greener, future,<br />

for and with our communities.<br />

At CCIN we acknowledge that <strong>Co</strong>uncils are not<br />

themselves registered co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, however<br />

we and our members have devel<strong>op</strong>ed principles<br />

that have grown from those of the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance and are relevant to us in local<br />

government. The CCIN has devel<strong>op</strong>ed 10 icons to<br />

represent these principles and use them throughout<br />

our website and reports to show how <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncils are putting our co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles<br />

into practice, highlighting the co-<strong>op</strong> difference in<br />

the work we are doing.<br />

22 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Embedding co-<strong>op</strong>erative values and principles<br />

into our work in Cheshire west has enabled us<br />

to make great strides towards empowering our<br />

communities, strengthening partnerships and<br />

growing our local economy. Through working with<br />

the network we realised the power of community<br />

action and engagement and the difference<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative way makes to how we deliver<br />

services. Taking part in and leading on policy labs<br />

(Understanding the Digital Divide), sharing good<br />

practice case studies, and signing up to the Fair Tax<br />

Charter are some of the ways we have demonstrated<br />

our commitment.<br />

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF CCIN IN <strong>2023</strong>?<br />

In <strong>2023</strong> we want to continue to grow our network<br />

and welcome new members. We will be encouraging<br />

councils and other organisations to join the CCIN<br />

to be part of a growing and influential network<br />

committed to devel<strong>op</strong>ing a new relationship<br />

with citizens. There is increasing interest, across<br />

the political spectrum, in how to share power<br />

and responsibility with citizens, support the<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of community and civic life and find<br />

more cost-effective ways to create successful and<br />

resilient communities. Membership is <strong>op</strong>en to<br />

all councils, <strong>op</strong>position groups, and businesses<br />

wishing to show their support and engage in the<br />

processes of devel<strong>op</strong>ing innovative co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

councils. Individuals and organisations can also<br />

join as supporters.<br />

This year we will update and refresh our Strategy<br />

and Action Plan 2021-<strong>2023</strong>, this has focused on four<br />

themes:<br />

• Theme 1: Better effectiveness in information<br />

sharing, accessible information, sharing best<br />

practice and encouraging more co-production.<br />

• Theme 2: Devel<strong>op</strong>ing a range of networks to<br />

increase engagement.<br />

• Theme 3: Training and support to better promote<br />

values and principles across organisations and<br />

networks.<br />

• Theme 4: National Influence and lobbying,<br />

growing the network and events.<br />


As chair of the CCIN I will bring passion and<br />

enthusiasm and a drive to spread the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

word and increase our network across the country.<br />

I am committed to our role as a non party-political<br />

hub for co-<strong>op</strong>erative policy devel<strong>op</strong>ment and<br />

advocacy. As chair I will ensure that everyone’s<br />

voice is heard and that all members, associates,<br />

and affiliates from across the network, can<br />

participate in a meaningful co<strong>op</strong>erative way, share<br />

good practice, and devel<strong>op</strong> innovative ideas.<br />



Today, in the face of the cost of living crisis, the<br />

climate emergency and the financial challenges<br />

facing the public sector, our collective work<br />

is crucial and together we need to continue<br />

reclaiming the traditions of community action,<br />

community engagement, and civic empowerment<br />

that can transform communities. I will ensure this<br />

work progresses and devel<strong>op</strong>s across our network<br />

and actions are delivered at pace.<br />


To overcome the challenges society is facing we do<br />

have an <strong>op</strong>portunity to look at these from a different<br />

perspective and our collective policy lab reports<br />

will help shape how services can be delivered. In<br />

2022 we published a number of reports including<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Difference in Care, Understanding<br />

the Digital Divide and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Approaches to<br />

Reaching Net Zero. In <strong>2023</strong> we will work together<br />

as a network and focus on three new policy labs of<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erative difference and will continue to share<br />

our case studies of good practice (to date 420 have<br />

been shared).<br />

For more information on CCIN, visit councils.co<strong>op</strong><br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 23


Leaving Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>: CEO<br />

Ursula Lidbetter retires<br />

Ursula is the last of the Institute<br />

of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Directors executive<br />

graduates, specifically trained to run<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s. All co-<strong>op</strong> managers are now<br />

general management trainees (with all<br />

the inherent growth and profit priorities)<br />

and just ‘on the job’ co-<strong>op</strong> experience. No<br />

wonder some lose their way.<br />

Bob Cannell<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 />

Memories of Bill May<br />

My father, Bill May, dedicated much<br />

of his working life to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement. He was an education officer<br />

for the RACS for 14 years and at the time of<br />

his retirement in 1991 he was secretary for<br />

the Northern and Scottish sections of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Union.<br />

Dad passed away in 2021, but a book<br />

about his life is now in print. It’s called<br />

Bill May - Memories of a Life Worth Living.<br />

The book is in two parts. The first part<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 />

is dad’s reflective memoir but there’s<br />

also a section devoted to other pe<strong>op</strong>le’s<br />

recollections of him. I’d be interested in<br />

making contact with anyone within the<br />

movement who remembers Bill May and<br />

who might like a c<strong>op</strong>y of the book. It’s free.<br />

In addition though, as I’m contemplating<br />

another print run, I’d certainly include<br />

further memories of dad in a second<br />

edition of the book. This means I’d<br />

welcome any recollections of Bill May from<br />

members and former colleagues (if they’re<br />

still alive) to accompany those already in<br />

the book from family and friends.<br />

I can be contacted at canwellmay@<br />

gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from<br />

anyone from dad’s past.<br />

Martin May<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rrection: In the article ‘Regulation<br />

inspiration’ (<strong>News</strong>, January <strong>2023</strong>), it was<br />

implied that the 10,000 mutuals registered<br />

with the FCA were included within the<br />

figure of 50,000 firms it regulates. They<br />

are in addition.<br />

Space to<br />

work<br />

Space to<br />

grow<br />

Space for<br />

change<br />

Leading the movement in workspaces for those who lead the change,<br />

with spaces currently available to rent<br />

Visit www.ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk Email sales@ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk or call 01865 207 810 to find out more<br />

24 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


New Zealand’s leadership change –<br />

and what it means for co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

As its prime minister, Jacinda Ardern,<br />

resigns and New Zealand faces into an<br />

election year, Roz Henry (CEO of co-<strong>op</strong><br />

apex <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Business NZ) looks at<br />

what the leadership change means for<br />

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

New Zealand is recognised internationally<br />

as one of the most co-<strong>op</strong>erative nations<br />

globally with 18% of our GDP by revenue<br />

(as noted in the World <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Monitor)<br />

being generated by co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

mutuals.<br />

Given this, you would assume that<br />

our government would be well-heeled in<br />

understanding the sector, especially when<br />

you take into account their 1.5 million<br />

members in a p<strong>op</strong>ulation of only 5 million.<br />

Not to mention, the overall supply chain<br />

that wraps around these businesses has a<br />

major impact on the country economically<br />

and socially across all regions.<br />

Unfortunately, this is not the case.<br />

A lot of this stems from a lack of<br />

education on the business model at<br />

secondary and tertiary levels. This isn’t<br />

helped if those who do have a voice,<br />

spread the word about the model being<br />

out of date or counter to a free economy.<br />

But this doesn’t add up…<br />

As distinct from many other<br />

countries, the model in New Zealand<br />

is mainly applied against commercial<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations. Many of them are some of<br />

our most successful, enduring businesses<br />

alongside being major exporters. They<br />

are significant employers and support<br />

a substantial number of SMEs to thrive.<br />

On a smaller scale, there are communitybased<br />

schemes throughout the country<br />

that enable social outcomes.<br />

The recent announcement of the<br />

resignation of our Prime Minister, Jacinda<br />

Ardern, head of the Labour Party, has<br />

come to many as a shock given her<br />

prominence. However, it also <strong>op</strong>ens doors.<br />

What we need is a brave government and<br />

leadership to come in and be prepared to<br />

support doing things differently, at speed.<br />

Remove the barriers to support these<br />

p Former prime minister Of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, visits The EU <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

(Image: Thierry Monasse / GettyImages)<br />

businesses’ establishment, recognise the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities they present, and get in<br />

behind them.<br />

The world we live in today is not the<br />

world of five or ten years ago. There is a<br />

global shift from profit-driven businesses<br />

to refocusing on taking care of pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

planet as a priority. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives play a<br />

part in the solution.<br />

There is often an expectation that they<br />

will be more socialistic in their thinking<br />

when compared to their right-leaning<br />

counterparts. However, in New Zealand,<br />

there is little distinction.<br />

With our upcoming election in October,<br />

the incoming government needs to be<br />

prepared to look outside the box to<br />

consider how we might make a major step<br />

change.<br />

We have a significant gap between the<br />

haves and have-nots. All signs point to<br />

this only increasing. The co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

model has the potential to change the dial<br />

and enable individuals and families sitting<br />

within lower socio-economic communities<br />

to change their circumstances. Whether<br />

it be through the establishment of co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

collective businesses such<br />

as trades, agriculture, horticulture,<br />

aquaculture, technology; housing, or<br />

infrastructure, the <strong>op</strong>portunities are<br />

broad.<br />

We are seeing a significant increase<br />

in businesses recognising the need for<br />

change to achieve Carbon Zero and aiming<br />

to get B <strong>Co</strong>rp certified. We know that<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating under the ICA’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

principles takes these businesses a<br />

significant step closer as it is built into<br />

their fundamental psyche.<br />

As the election year begins, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Business NZ is advocating for increased<br />

engagement with government officials<br />

to showcase why there needs to be a<br />

greater understanding of this business<br />

community and the role they can play<br />

to support responding to the changed<br />

environment. Whether it be through<br />

education, policy and legislation<br />

(enabling the ILO, 193 recommendations)<br />

or supporting the establishment of these<br />

businesses, the incoming government will<br />

need to play a key role in ensuring the<br />

social and economic <strong>op</strong>portunities these<br />

businesses present can be realised.<br />

We h<strong>op</strong>e that they are able to put in place<br />

the foundations for the next generation<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>erative to continue to thrive by<br />

recognising this business community and<br />

the benefits they have to offer.<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 25

SAOS<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference<br />


By Miles Hadfield<br />

Farmers are on the frontline when it comes to<br />

climate crisis: it threatens huge disruption to<br />

their <strong>op</strong>erations – and puts them under pressure<br />

to cut emissions while increasing production.<br />

This year’s conference of the Scottish Agricultural<br />

Organisation Society (SAOS), held in Dunblane<br />

last week, looked at how co-<strong>op</strong>erative working<br />

can find answers to this problem.<br />

First up to speak was Mike Robinson, head of<br />

the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, who<br />

chaired the Scottish government’s 1.5° Inquiry to<br />

find out how the agriculture could play its part<br />

in keeping the temperature rise to 1.5°C. During<br />

consultation, one farmer told him: “There’s<br />

no such thing as climate change so we’re<br />

wasting our time”. But this no longer matters,<br />

said Robinson, because the threat of climate<br />

change is accepted by scientists, businesses,<br />

governments from local to global level, farmers’<br />

unions and, crucially, consumers demanding<br />

sustainable food. “This is an inevitable direction<br />

of travel,” he added.<br />

It also makes sense for farmers: while warmer<br />

temperatures bring some benefits, like a longer<br />

growing season, the increased risk of storms,<br />

drought, flood, pests and cr<strong>op</strong> disease hugely<br />

outweigh them.<br />

Policymakers are demanding action: farming<br />

makes up 11% of UK climate emissions – 18% for<br />

Scotland – impressive reductions in the sector<br />

have slowed over the last decade. “Scotland will<br />

not hit its climate targets without agriculture<br />

delivering,” warned Robinson, adding that<br />

farmers are a solution, not a problem.<br />

There are also commercial incentives to climate<br />

action. Andrew Niven, from Scotland Food<br />

and Drink, noted that urbanisation around the<br />

world has triggered feelings of alienation from<br />

nature which consumers are trying to remedy by<br />

focusing on heritage foods, ordering veg boxes<br />

and demanding food chain transparency.<br />

These trends offer market <strong>op</strong>enings to farmers –<br />

but while <strong>op</strong>portunity knocks, meeting climate<br />

targets is not so simple. During the day a number<br />

of <strong>op</strong>tions were suggested, such as agroforestry,<br />

which grows timber on grazing land to absorb<br />

carbon. This has added benefits to animal<br />

welfare, with trees offering a more sheltered<br />

environment than a bare field.<br />

Alison Hester from the James Hutton Institute,<br />

a farm science research centre, discussed<br />

small scale electrolysers, which can use solar<br />

and wind energy generated on farms to create<br />

hydrogen fuel – allowing farms to decarbonise<br />

their heating, machinery and vehicles.<br />

The Institute has been running a trial,<br />

HydroGlen, on its prototype farm. It found that a<br />

unit taking up 30sq m can generate 100% of the<br />

farm’s energy needs. The drawback is the £6m<br />

build cost for a unit, including a wind turbine –<br />

but co-<strong>op</strong>eration can help, said Hester, building<br />

economies of scale and a shared data set that<br />

26 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

will convince government to provide finance.<br />

The good news, she added, is that “everything<br />

we are using is commercially available now –<br />

it can be build-ready … it’s replicable, and has<br />

modular and scalable components”. There<br />

is also potential to create employment with<br />

apprenticeships to devel<strong>op</strong> green job skills.<br />

“We need to work in partnership to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

this – SAOS is an important partner,” added<br />

Hester. “SAOS and the National Farmers Union<br />

Scotland are conducting outreach action<br />

to realise hydrogen’s potential through co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

and collective procurement.”<br />

If it works, the benefits could be considerable:<br />

the Hutton Institute wants to make Scotland “a<br />

leading hydrogen nation” using local production<br />

hubs and a mix of public and private sector<br />

support. The tech potentially offers farms total<br />

energy independence, rural decarbonisation<br />

and – by creating hydrogen fuel – also solves the<br />

problem of intermittent energy supply.<br />

More research is being carried out by Scottish<br />

Agronomy, a co-<strong>op</strong> formed in 1985 to help<br />

farmers increase cr<strong>op</strong> production. Managing<br />

director Adam Christie repeated the message<br />

that climate innovations present an <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

for farmers, but added a warning. “We are under<br />

pressure to move on this and there is a danger we<br />

will be forced to move at a rate the science can’t<br />

keep up with.”<br />

Innovations should always be tested on<br />

farms, he said, giving the example of Encera, a<br />

fertiliser hailed as a replacement for nitrogen:<br />

but although it worked perfectly in greenhouses,<br />

it was a failure in the field.<br />

But nitrogen use needs tackling, he said: half<br />

of arable farming’s climate emissions come from<br />

fertilisers. Efficient nitrogen use is the key here,<br />

delivering lower emissions while maintaining<br />

production. “There is a moral responsibility on<br />

arable farmers to make the maximum use of the<br />

land they have,” said Christie. “There’s eight<br />

billion mouths to feed on this planet.”<br />

There are processes that can help – tilling the<br />

land, moving from simple spraying to integrated<br />

pest management, and the use of cover cr<strong>op</strong>s<br />

like oil radish to maintain soil structure.<br />

“There is a limit to what we can do in an arable<br />

setting if we want to maintain production,” said<br />

Christie, “but there is massive pressure on the<br />

issue of climate.” Big industry customers like<br />

Pepsi<strong>Co</strong>, themselves urged to act by consumers,<br />

are demanding sustainability from all suppliers,<br />

which means farmers “have to change”.<br />

While there are subsidies for using<br />

unproductive land for biodiversity, they do not<br />

currently compensate for taking land out of<br />

production, said Christie. But if big businesses<br />

want to improve their profile by paying farmers<br />

to use low-yield land for biodiversiy “it would<br />

be foolish of us not to get involved in that … end<br />

users are much more involved than at any time<br />

I’ve ever known in engaging with growers”.<br />

For a benchmark in dealing with climate,<br />

Christie recommended dairy co-<strong>op</strong> Arla, which is<br />

trialling green hydrogen, gene editing of plants<br />

and alternative livestock feed to reduce methane<br />

emissions. But although Arla is “miles ahead<br />

of where we are,” Christie said its leaders have<br />

accepted they cannot face the climate challenge<br />

alone. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration will be key, and will help to<br />

stimulate new ideas.<br />

The conference also heard from Richard<br />

Simmons of Carbon Capture Scotland, which<br />

extracts carbon dioxide emitted by whisky<br />

distilleries. Some of this is put to industrial use –<br />

in the manufacture of dry ice and even the Pfizer<br />

vaccine – but there is no use for the vast bulk<br />

of the carbon generated by industry and it will<br />

have to be buried. Simmons called for input from<br />

farmers to help drive this; in Scotland there are<br />

a million tons of CO2 that can be removed easily<br />

and in long term, the figure rises to 4.6 million.<br />

Farm data is a staple t<strong>op</strong>ic at the SAOS<br />

conference, and the apex’s data and connectivity<br />

manager George Noble gave an update on how it<br />

can drive climate action.<br />

Data on soil quality, weather, cr<strong>op</strong> yields,<br />

river levels and pollinator numbers is vital to<br />

drive climate action and demonstrate a farm’s<br />

sustainability credentials. But poor internet<br />

connectivity in rural Scotland is blocking<br />

progress. To remedy this, SAOS has launched<br />

collaborative businesses to build infrastructure.<br />

But if this is to work, it has to be tailored to<br />

the needs of farmers, and Noble said SAOS needs<br />

to hear from then to learn what they want. One<br />

thing farmers in the session made clear is that<br />

they want control and ownership of data from<br />

their farms.<br />

p The James Hutton<br />

Institute’s Glensaugh<br />

farm, where it tests<br />

ideas including the<br />

use of renewables to<br />

create green hydrogen<br />

There is<br />

a moral<br />

responsibility<br />

on arable<br />

farmers to<br />

make the<br />

maximum use<br />

of the land<br />

they have<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 27

Awards<br />

celebrate<br />

resilience<br />


By Miles Hadfield<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Award winners were<br />

announced in London in January, showcasing<br />

the efforts of the sector to devel<strong>op</strong> new energy<br />

solutions and tackle the climate crisis.<br />

Run by sector body <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy<br />

England (CEE), the ceremony is the first edition of<br />

the awards since 2019, and was supported by the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party, Greater London Authority,<br />

Younity and Naturesave Insurance. Speakers at<br />

the event included Joe Fortune, general secretary<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party, and Nadia Smith, sustainable<br />

futures project manager at South East London<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy (SELCE) and winner of 2019’s<br />

Young Person Champion Award.<br />

CEE said: “Despite the community energy<br />

sector’s most challenging year ever following<br />

the curtailment of government policy support<br />

in numerous areas, the sector remains resilient,<br />

passionate and innovative. The awards<br />

showcase new areas of devel<strong>op</strong>ment, as well as<br />

the benefits that these projects bring to pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

living in the community.”<br />

The winners are:<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Champion (Individual):<br />

Kate Gilmartin, NW Net Zero Hub<br />

CEE says Gilmartin was chosen for her “proactive<br />

and creative approach to maximising the impact<br />

of the Rural <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Fund in the NW<br />

Net Zero hub region.”<br />

It added: “She has been instrumental in<br />

building a wide ranging portfolio of projects by<br />

proactively engaging with communities to bring<br />

them forward and supporting them through<br />

the feasibility and devel<strong>op</strong>ment process ... Not<br />

only has Kate got decades of community energy<br />

experience, she still has as much passion,<br />

commitment and up-to-date knowledge as ever.”<br />

Social and Environmental Impact Award,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Photo of the Year Award: SELCE<br />

South East London <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy (SELCE)<br />

won the Environmental Impact Award for its<br />

delivery of fuel poverty and energy efficiency<br />

advice. CEE notes that it has increased its activity<br />

and now employs a professional delivery team.<br />

It delivers energy cafés, online or in person<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s for organisations, one-on-one<br />

consultations, and attends community events<br />

to give advice and do home visits. SELCE also<br />

collaborated with Repowering London on kickstarting<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Winter Support<br />

initiative involving many London CE groups.<br />

According to Bristol University research, its<br />

fuel poverty work has generated £9-10 social<br />

benefit (including ~£3 per year savings on bills<br />

to residents) per £1 spent. One project supported<br />

996 vulnerable households, saving residents<br />

£312,996 on bills and 173,225 kg CO2e.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Champion (Team):<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy London (CEL)<br />

Judges noted CEL’s “excellent relationship<br />

building with London councils, which has<br />

directly led to the creation of a London<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Fund (LCEF) … a key<br />

campaign goal for CEL, following the premature<br />

closure by the government of the Urban<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Fund (UCEF)”.<br />

28 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Organisation of the Year;<br />

Local Authority <strong>Co</strong>llaboration, and Scaling<br />

Up <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy (three categories):<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy South<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy South (CES) scored an<br />

impressive triple on the night, with judges<br />

noting its “continued commitment to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

and deliver the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Pathways<br />

Programme to directly capacity build and<br />

support the growth of the community energy<br />

sector”.<br />

The Pathways programme works with local<br />

authorities and aligns with their Climate Change<br />

Strategies delivering a bespoke <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Energy Pathway that is ad<strong>op</strong>ted by the local<br />

authorities and supports their Net Zero<br />

approaches.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Engagement and Inclusion<br />

Award: Repowering London<br />

Repowering London won for its volunteer-led<br />

work in their local communities, taking in a<br />

range of projects to devel<strong>op</strong> and grow its co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

(Lambeth <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Solar, North<br />

Kensington <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy, and Aldgate<br />

Solar Power). Activities include organising local<br />

climate events and worksh<strong>op</strong>s on energy advice<br />

and solar panel making.<br />

CEE says the co-<strong>op</strong>s are “continually<br />

contributing to building a local climate<br />

movement and their volunteers and champions<br />

are a driving force behind building these links<br />

with local groups and getting more pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

involved in climate justice and working for the<br />

benefits of communities”.<br />

Finance and Innovation Award: Ambition<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy (ACE), Thrive<br />

Renewables, Bristol & Bath Regional Capital<br />

(BBRC) and Bristol City <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

ACE, Thrive, BBRC and Bristol <strong>Co</strong>uncil won this<br />

category for working together to provide capital<br />

for impactful projects in the West of England.<br />

In late 2019 Bristol <strong>Co</strong>uncil and BBRC launched<br />

City Funds – a specific impact investment fund<br />

for the city and its immediate surroundings, and<br />

the first of its kind in the UK.<br />

Mandated to invest in impact themes across<br />

social and environmental priorities, ACE<br />

approached BBRC in late 2019 with a plan for a<br />

community-owned wind turbine.<br />

“City Funds took the decision to invest even<br />

before these critical risk points had been<br />

crossed,” says CEE. “As a place-based impact<br />

investor, BBRC was able to understand the local<br />

conditions intimately. <strong>Co</strong>mbining this loan with<br />

match-funding from Power to Change, it was this<br />

step that ACE tell us allowed the project to move<br />

ahead; without it, ACE may well have failed.”<br />

Fuel Poverty Action Award: Energise Sussex<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ast<br />

Energise Sussex <strong>Co</strong>ast (ESC) won for its<br />

“high quality energy advice and support to<br />

communities in East Sussex”. It offers broad<br />

ranging energy advice in person, at community<br />

locations, or via telephone appointments.<br />

In response to the energy crisis its focus has<br />

been to help pe<strong>op</strong>le bring their energy costs<br />

down and save carbon. It also holds regular<br />

information evenings and worksh<strong>op</strong>s <strong>op</strong>en to<br />

the public which address energy related issues.<br />

Youth Energy Award: Energy Heroes<br />

The Energy Heroes programme was chosen for<br />

its “innovative approach to engaging young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in the community energy sector”, which<br />

is based on the Department for Education’s<br />

expected learning outcomes from the maths<br />

national curriculum.<br />

The basis of the programme is that the learning<br />

and activities also provide the nudge for their<br />

families to engage with energy matters (bills,<br />

meters and energy efficiency). Its programme<br />

delivery consists of teacher training, lessons,<br />

teaching and learning materials and resources.<br />

Energy Heroes has now been delivered to just<br />

over 200 schools since its inception in 2016,<br />

Helen Seagrave, interim chair of CEE, said: “The<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Awards is one of our favourite<br />

events of the year as it highlights and reminds us<br />

what can be achieved when communities come<br />

together and invest in their future.<br />

“We are recognising the achievements of<br />

organisations from across the country, which go<br />

far beyond the generation of clean energy.<br />

p SELCE’s winning<br />

image shows the<br />

work of its energy<br />

champions in<br />

providing home<br />

energy advice, helping<br />

those at risk of fuel<br />

poverty cut carbon<br />

and costs<br />

Despite the<br />

community<br />

energy<br />

sector’s most<br />

challenging<br />

year ever,<br />

the sector<br />

remains<br />

resilient,<br />

passionate<br />

and<br />

innovative.”<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 29

How are<br />

food & retail co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />


IN THE UK?<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

p <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town<br />

is a network of 21<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s – and it’s<br />

growing<br />

With food inflation at 16.8%, the festive season<br />

was a challenging time for UK households. After<br />

a 41-year high in October 2022 (11.1%), inflation<br />

in the UK began easing in December but remains<br />

high at 10.5%.<br />

In this context initiatives like <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration<br />

Town, a network of community food co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

organising on streets and estates across the UK,<br />

are becoming increasingly p<strong>op</strong>ular. Launched in<br />

2019, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town has grown to include 21<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“Anyone could start a food co-<strong>op</strong> on their<br />

streets or their estates and they don’t need to<br />

have any particular background or knowledge or<br />

experience to be doing this,” says Shiri Shalmy,<br />

one of its founding members.<br />

All groups are self-organised, she adds, which<br />

means that there may be even more co-<strong>op</strong>s not<br />

formally affiliated to <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town.<br />

“Once a co-<strong>op</strong> is too big, there’s a waiting list<br />

and so the co-<strong>op</strong> splits and pe<strong>op</strong>le support each<br />

other to organise so they don’t need us to come<br />

and introduce the model – there are already<br />

community organisers and they can support<br />

their neighbours organise. So it’s a proliferation<br />

and a self-organising transmission built into it,”<br />

she adds.<br />

Meanwhile, the actual worker co-<strong>op</strong> behind<br />

the project employs five workers and one project<br />

worker who is not a member.<br />

“We have seen an increase in the number of<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s, more pe<strong>op</strong>le are asking to join<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s or starting co-<strong>op</strong>s,” says Shalmy, but<br />

adds that this could also be due to more pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

finding out about their work.<br />

The cost of living crisis has had an impact on<br />

the food co-<strong>op</strong>s that form part of the network,<br />

with purchasing power dr<strong>op</strong>ping. However,<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town food co-<strong>op</strong>s are still able to<br />

help members save up to 30% on food prices.<br />

“Because our model is based on purchasing in<br />

bulk, and supplementing that with surplus food,<br />

which is free in London, we are able to maintain<br />

that level of saving. So co-<strong>op</strong>s and their members<br />

30 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

q The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

partnered with Your<br />

Local Pantry<br />

still save a lot of money. Outside of London, it<br />

is a slightly different ratio because there is less<br />

free surplus food so co-<strong>op</strong>s have to pay the<br />

surplus food distributors. But they still make a<br />

big saving,” she says.<br />

The crisis has also led to small grants being<br />

made available to community groups looking<br />

to make a difference, such as <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s. She adds that while this has helped,<br />

small grants by themselves cannot solve the cost<br />

of living crisis.<br />

One of the most recent initiatives led by<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town is the Gospel Oak Living<br />

Room, a warm hub where neighbours can spend<br />

time different times of the day. The hub is a<br />

partnership between them and tenant residents<br />

associations.<br />

Shalmy, who has a trades union background,<br />

says she wanted to explore organising outside of<br />

the workplace community organising but also<br />

thinking about social production – and came<br />

across the co-<strong>op</strong> model.<br />

“I had no co-<strong>op</strong> background, so I didn’t know I<br />

had to teach myself – I’m still learning,” she says,<br />

adding that having conversations with some of<br />

London’s most well-known worker co-<strong>op</strong>s, such<br />

as Calverts and Outlandish also helped.<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le in the movement were very supportive<br />

and helped us, and we’re always chatting to<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le at Calverts or at Suma or other co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

You really get a sense that the principle of co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

between co-<strong>op</strong>s is real and it proves<br />

itself to be super useful,” she adds.<br />

Did they expect the model to take off in the<br />

way it did? “When we started the project we<br />

didn’t know that it would be anything like that.<br />

We never imagined that we would be employing<br />

five pe<strong>op</strong>le or six pe<strong>op</strong>le and supporting so<br />

many pe<strong>op</strong>le to self-organise. It started as an<br />

experiment. So it’s very encouraging that it grew<br />

so spontaneously and so nicely and that we<br />

We have seen an increase<br />

in the number of food<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s. More pe<strong>op</strong>le are<br />

asking to join co-<strong>op</strong>s or<br />

starting co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

were able to respond to something like <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

whereas it could have, completely killed this<br />

project. It actually gave us time to devel<strong>op</strong> and<br />

to experiment, but also meant that we could<br />

answer really crucial need at the time when it<br />

was happening,” she says.<br />

As to the future, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Town plans<br />

to continue its work and has secured funding<br />

to keep going for the next two years. Shalmy<br />

expects the number of co-<strong>op</strong>s within the network<br />

to double by 2024.<br />

Other co-<strong>op</strong>s have also taken a series of<br />

measures to support their members, customers<br />

and employees with the rising cost of living. In<br />

November 2022 the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group teamed up with<br />

Your Local Pantry, a network coordinated by<br />

Church Action on Poverty, which helps pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

enjoy big meals on smaller budgets. The Local<br />

Pantry creates spaces for communities to come<br />

together around food. Each pantry within its<br />

network stocked with surplus food. With small<br />

weekly amount of around £3.50 (depending on<br />

location), those using the pantries can select at<br />

least ten items from a wide selection of groceries,<br />

meaning that they save on average £15 per sh<strong>op</strong>.<br />

The partnership with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group is helping<br />

to triple the number of Pantries in the UK, from<br />

75 to 225 over the next three years.<br />

Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community<br />

and membership at the Group said at the<br />

time: “Things are tough for many of us at the<br />

moment and we are proud that pantries will<br />

be there to support pe<strong>op</strong>le and their local<br />

communities in dealing with the challenges that<br />

are thrown at them, it feels like a real step in<br />

the right direction to make the world that little<br />

bit fairer.”<br />

James Henderson, network devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

coordinator for Your Local Pantry, said:<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>mmunities have long wanted to improve<br />

food security while upholding dignity, choice<br />

and h<strong>op</strong>e, and Pantries are a proven win-win<br />

solution. We’re really excited to be teaming up<br />

with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, so another 150 neighbourhoods<br />

can <strong>op</strong>en pantries of their own.”<br />

u<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 31

q Channel Islands<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> teamed up with<br />

the Jersey Evening<br />

Post to profile t<strong>op</strong><br />

island chefs (including<br />

Callum Graham,<br />

head chef at Bohemia<br />

Restaurant, below)<br />

cooking meals using<br />

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

costing no more than<br />

a fiver.<br />

To tackle food waste the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group also<br />

launched Caboodle, a new tech platform<br />

designed to st<strong>op</strong> food waste. Caboodle, which<br />

was devel<strong>op</strong>ed in partnership with Microsoft,<br />

connects retailers, cafés and restaurants to<br />

community groups and volunteers to redistribute<br />

surplus food to the households most in need.<br />

Meanwhile, the Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Society partnered with Jersey Evening Post to<br />

promote recipes created by local chefs with<br />

ingredients costing a total of less than £5 using<br />

their co-<strong>op</strong> honest value and co-<strong>op</strong> own brand<br />

ranges.<br />

A similar initiative is run by Waitrose, which<br />

forms part of employee owned John Lewis<br />

Partnership. In September 2022 the food retailer<br />

launched ‘Super Saver recipes‘ for under £2 per<br />

portion meal inspiration. The retailer also ran a<br />

Great Saving Event in January with offers across<br />

thousands of staple products.<br />

Leyla Page, <strong>Co</strong>mmercial Planner at Waitrose,<br />

said: “With the cost of living crisis, we know<br />

customers are keener than ever to find a good<br />

deal. That’s why we introduced ‘Waitrose Ways<br />

to Spend Less’, highlighting value-for-money<br />

deals that customers can take advantage of all<br />

year round.”<br />

Research commissioned by John Lewis and<br />

Waitrose among 2,000 UK adults who celebrated<br />

Christmas found that many households aimed<br />

to save money on bills when cooking their<br />

Christmas dinner, with nearly a fifth said they<br />

will use an air fryer and a similar number said<br />

they will use a microwave (18%) and cook more<br />

on the stove to reduce oven time (18%). The<br />

We have been<br />

overwhelmed by the<br />

responses regarding<br />

the anxiety, stress and<br />

increased mental health<br />

issues that the current cost<br />

of living crisis is causing<br />

research revealed that only 12% of respondents<br />

expected to have their heating on more than<br />

other days with a quarter (26%) planning to have<br />

it on less.<br />

An analysis by the Joseph Rowntree<br />

Foundation also found that a fifth of the 2.5<br />

million low-income households were going<br />

without food and heating in November. It<br />

revealed that over 3 million low-income families<br />

could not afford to heat their homes to protect<br />

themselves from the cold.<br />

In response to these concerns, in December<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group became first retailer to launch<br />

a match-funding platform with Crowdfunder<br />

to provide support to local community<br />

organisations across the UK, as they help<br />

communities c<strong>op</strong>e with rising energy costs<br />

during the cold winter months. Since launching<br />

the Warm Spaces match funding platform over<br />

£240,000 has been paid out by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to help 300<br />

groups provide warm spaces in communities<br />

across the UK. On 19 January the Group<br />

announced it would increase the flow of funds to<br />

community groups through its £1 million ‘Warm<br />

Spaces’ funding boost.<br />

Birkbeck commented: “Launching this<br />

funding boost will help groups keep their lights<br />

and heating on as they bring communities<br />

together to keep warm in the coldest months of<br />

the year– increasing overall wellbeing. It may<br />

also mean pe<strong>op</strong>le don’t have to choose between<br />

accessing food or heating this winter. Plus,<br />

having a warm space allows the community<br />

to take a break from their everyday worries,<br />

improving their mental wellbeing.<br />

Sue <strong>Co</strong>llins, Caxton House <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Centre,<br />

a multi-purpose <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Hub based in North<br />

London said: “We have lots of different activities<br />

on different days that include arts and crafts, as<br />

well as access to advice including money saving<br />

32 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

energy tips, budgeting and debt advice, mental<br />

health and well-being support. Residents can<br />

also charge electrical equipment and fill flasks,<br />

with some sessions allowing access to hot food,<br />

and pre-prepared meals that can be microwaved<br />

at home, saving having to put on an oven.”<br />

Similarly, the East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

donated £100,000 from its Christmas marketing<br />

budget to help pe<strong>op</strong>le in its region keep warm<br />

and fed this winter. Of this, £70,000 was split<br />

among warm hubs with the remaining £30,000<br />

being allocated to 25 local foodbanks.<br />

Vicki Mann, manager of Chantry Library in<br />

Ipswich, one of the organisations benefiting from<br />

the East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s warm hub donation,<br />

said: “We’re <strong>op</strong>en as a community hub, where<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le can just come and be themselves and<br />

meet new pe<strong>op</strong>le. It’s a warm space for pe<strong>op</strong>le to<br />

come, which is needed at the moment, especially<br />

with the cost of living.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>’s members and customers helped<br />

to raise over £44,500. Kat Reading, <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment manager at the East of England<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> said: “We’re blown away by the generosity<br />

of our customers this winter. We know that<br />

household budgets are extremely stretched, but<br />

our community has, yet again, pulled together to<br />

support each other.”<br />

Many co-<strong>op</strong>erative retailers have also taken<br />

steps to support employees c<strong>op</strong>e with inflation.<br />

For example, the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group increased pay<br />

for all store-based employees, with hourly rates<br />

going up between 4.2% and 5.3%.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> colleagues needing loans can also<br />

become members of the two credit unions<br />

associated with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> – Keep Credit Union<br />

and the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Credit Union or access interestfree<br />

rent deposit loans for employees which<br />

allows them to receive up to a maximum of<br />

80% of earnings over a four-week period, with<br />

repayments taken direct from salary over the<br />

next 10 paydays after the loan is received. Other<br />

initiatives include partnering with StepChange<br />

to help receive help with debt.<br />

Helping members during these difficult times<br />

was also a priority for the Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

“As a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> that works for the benefit of our<br />

communities, we have considered what we can<br />

do to help with the external pressures being<br />

faced by many,” said chief executive Mark Smith.<br />

Recognising the rising energy costs, the<br />

society made a one-off payment to all colleagues<br />

of £300, sent a £50 gift card to every colleague<br />

to support with the cost of food, and invested in<br />

enhanced colleague discount events including a<br />

50% discount in September and December 2022.<br />

“We h<strong>op</strong>e these measures have gone some<br />

way in supporting our colleagues during these<br />

challenging times, and we’ll continue to review<br />

what other support we can offer during <strong>2023</strong>,”<br />

added Smith.<br />

In addition to its ongoing support for food<br />

banks, local pantries and community fridges,<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> sent a £40,000 worth of gift<br />

cards to its local food bank partners, donated<br />

£25,000 to Neighbourly’s Warm <strong>Co</strong>mmunities<br />

Fund and raised over £50,000 for its local food<br />

bank partners. The retailer has donated 2p every<br />

time its members buy food, drink and groceries<br />

in its food stores and scan their membership<br />

card.<br />

With high inflation likely to continue, UK<br />

retail co-<strong>op</strong>s will have to continue to support<br />

customers and employees. <strong>Co</strong>mmenting on<br />

the impact of inflation on retailers and their<br />

customers, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of<br />

the British Retail <strong>Co</strong>nsortium, explained that<br />

“while there is some indication that inflation<br />

may have reached its peak, prices will remain<br />

high in the coming months.” She added that<br />

retailers are taking steps to support their<br />

customers throughout this cost-of-living crisis.<br />

“They are keeping the price of many essentials<br />

affordable, expanding their value ranges, raising<br />

pay for their own staff, and offering discounts for<br />

vulnerable groups,” she said.<br />

Insight provider IGD Retail thinks retailers will<br />

have to focus on “driving out costs, improving<br />

the efficiency of supply chains and delivering<br />

value to consumers in new ways over the next<br />

12 months.”<br />

Toby Pickard, Global Insight Leader at IGD,<br />

said: “While many of these initiatives from<br />

businesses have been reactionary, they are<br />

helping retailers to reset the cost base and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> go-to market models for the future.<br />

“Alongside this, retailers will continue to<br />

progress their key initiatives centred on health<br />

and wellness, sustainability and digitisation.<br />

Progress in these areas is incremental but we<br />

predict it will drive significant long-term change<br />

in the shape of our industry.”<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 33

New<br />

trouble<br />

for<br />

Mondragon<br />



By Miles Hadfield<br />

p ULMA<br />

Architectural<br />

Solutions<br />

One of the world’s leading co-<strong>op</strong> federations,<br />

Mondragon <strong>Co</strong>rporation, suffered a blow at the<br />

end of last year when two of its key member<br />

organisations voted to leave.<br />

Ulma Group and Orona <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative both<br />

hosted votes on 16 December which saw their<br />

partners <strong>op</strong>t for the exit door. The move follows a<br />

period of tension with both co-<strong>op</strong>s wanting more<br />

autonomy – and means the co-<strong>op</strong>s will cease<br />

contributions of 10% of their substantial profits<br />

to a common fund, <strong>op</strong>erated by Mondragon to<br />

sustain member co-<strong>op</strong>s which are going through<br />

lean times.<br />

Both organisations are looking for ways to<br />

continue collaboration with Mondragon, and<br />

will continue to insure their worker-owners<br />

through the federation’s Lagun Aro system. They<br />

will also maintain their collaborative work with<br />

Mondragon University and other co-<strong>op</strong>s in the<br />

federation.<br />

Their departure is a significant blow for the<br />

Federation – held up round the world as an<br />

example of what co-<strong>op</strong>eration can acheive,<br />

and a business which has allowed its corner of<br />

Spain’s Basque <strong>Co</strong>untry to buck national trends<br />

for unemployment and other economic woes.<br />

Ulma is a group of nine co-<strong>op</strong>s with a presence<br />

in 81 countries and a 60-year market presence in<br />

a wide range of sectors: Ulma Greenhouses, Ulma<br />

Architectural Solutions, Ulma Maintenance<br />

Services, Ulma <strong>Co</strong>nveyor <strong>Co</strong>mponents, Ulma<br />

Embedded Solutions, Ulma Handling Systems,<br />

Ulma <strong>Co</strong>nstruction, Ulma Packaging and Ulma<br />

Advanced Forged Solutions.<br />

Elevator manufacturer Orona is another global<br />

name; between them, the two organisations<br />

take away 11,000 of Mondragon’s 80,000-strong<br />

workforce – shrinking it by 13% – and 15% of the<br />

group’s sales go, adding add up to more than<br />

€1,700m in billing.<br />

34 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Orona has 1,700 members and a turnover of<br />

more than €800m, while Ulma employs 5,426<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le with a turnover of E910m and a profit of<br />

€75m.<br />

The vote follows a failed bid by Orona and Ulma<br />

to introduce an alternative governance model to<br />

guide the relationship of member co-<strong>op</strong>s with<br />

Mondragon’s central services. The pr<strong>op</strong>osal was<br />

rejected in June and no discussion was permitted<br />

at the Federation’s annual congress in November<br />

because it had been submitted to late.<br />

Orona and Ulma complained of “pressure”<br />

and “interference” and have now <strong>op</strong>ted for “new<br />

relational framework” with Mondragón.<br />

It is not the first exit in Mondragon’s history<br />

– in 2008, worker-owners of the metal casting<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> Ampo and coach maker Irizar voted<br />

out. Nor is it the first crisis. Between 2002<br />

and 2007, member co-<strong>op</strong>s Fagor and Eroski<br />

issued bonds, which they advertised as safe<br />

deposits, but they were classed by courts as<br />

riskier debt instruments – and when their<br />

value was hit in the wake of the 2008 crash, the<br />

bond-holders sued.<br />

The financial crisis also brought a shock<br />

casualty for the federation: in 2013, white<br />

goods maker Fagor Electrodomésticos filed<br />

for bankruptcy to renegotiate €1.1bn of debt,<br />

followed by the bankruptcy of the whole Fagor<br />

Group. This led to the €42.5m sale of Fagor in<br />

July 2014, to Catalonian company Cata.<br />

Fagor’s collapse brought a bitter dispute,<br />

with workers occupying its Edesa plant, south<br />

of Bilbao,<br />

There has also been criticism in some<br />

parts of the co-<strong>op</strong> movement of Mondragon’s<br />

global supply chain, with its more than 100<br />

overseas <strong>op</strong>erations structured as conventional<br />

businesses. Mondragon stresses there are<br />

practical obstacles to setting up foreign<br />

subsidiaries as member co-<strong>op</strong>s – particularly<br />

with regard to its safety net that allows<br />

redundant workers to be redeployed from one<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> to another – a facility Ulma and Orona<br />

will retain.<br />

Mondragon has expressed ongoing interest<br />

in converting its overseas <strong>op</strong>erations to worker<br />

ownership, and in converting the 35,000 nonmember<br />

retail workers at Eroski (out of a total<br />

of 50,000) to membership status. These are on<br />

the backburner while the federation rides out<br />

the economic disruptions from <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and the<br />

Ukraine conflict which have hit profits at Eroski<br />

and the Caja Laboral credit union.<br />

But while the latest furore is not unprecedented,<br />

it has prompted press speculation in Spain that<br />

more is to come. “From now on it will be seen<br />

if the sc<strong>op</strong>e of the crisis of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

giant goes beyond the figures,” wrote online<br />

paper elDiario, “if the very management model<br />

of the corporation based on solidarity between<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>eratives is called into question, if the<br />

departure of Ulma and Orona is the beginning<br />

of more of the big leaks – or if, on the contrary,<br />

Mondragon reinvents itself … and emerges<br />

stronger and with more united companies.”<br />

The federation’s management said the news<br />

means that “Mondragon begins a new stage,”<br />

while the CEO of supermarket chain Eroski –<br />

one of its key members – defended the right of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s to leave if they wished.<br />

Rosa Carabel told a Radio Euskadi interview<br />

that she wished the co-<strong>op</strong>s had stayed but<br />

added: “We have to respect the decisions that<br />

Orona and Ulma can make because they are<br />

sovereign decisions.”<br />

However, Eroski remains committed to the<br />

Federation, she added. “Eroski understands<br />

that the co-<strong>op</strong>eratives that are in the corporation<br />

share the same values of co<strong>op</strong>eration and joint<br />

learning. Between all of us we have the capacity<br />

to enrich each other and we want the voice of<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erativism to be loud and clear.<br />

“What we want from the corporation is that<br />

we are all there, but if they decide to leave it, the<br />

corporation will continue.”<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 35

Close<br />

dge<br />

to the<br />

By Alice Toomer-<br />

McAlpine<br />




One of the benefits of being a co-<strong>op</strong> is having<br />

a membership, and often a wider surrounding<br />

community, backing you.<br />

This is something co-<strong>op</strong>s often use to their<br />

advantage through crowdfunding, which can<br />

be used to support them during their start-up<br />

phases, launch new services or products, or<br />

expand capacity.<br />

Sadly, over the past year there have been a<br />

number of cases where co-<strong>op</strong>s had to turn to<br />

crowdfunding to plug gaps in their finances<br />

caused by the economic crisis. These efforts have<br />

brought mixed results.<br />

Vegan grocery Rice Up Wholefoods ran a<br />

crowdfunding campaign when its costs became<br />

unmanageable last year, but despite raising over<br />

£10,000 from 530 donors, it was only a little<br />

over half of what it needed to survive and it was<br />

forced to close.<br />

A similar story occurred with co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

community hub Bread + Roses, which managed<br />

to raise over £30,000 last summer from 233<br />

supporters and match funding from Power to<br />

Change and The National Emergencies Trust, but<br />

still had to close in November.<br />

The Solidarity Economy Association (SEA),<br />

is currently crowdfunding for £18,000 to cover<br />

staffing costs in <strong>2023</strong> – but despite having<br />

extended the length of the campaign it is still<br />

some way off its target.<br />

Worker-owned queer club and community<br />

space in Glasgow Bonjour announced an<br />

emergency fundraiser last year in response to<br />

rising energy bills and staffing costs, alongside a<br />

raft of other measures including cutting <strong>op</strong>ening<br />

hours and increasing prices.<br />

Organisations that support co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are<br />

reporting increased vulnerability in their client<br />

businesses.<br />

Chris <strong>Co</strong>wcher of the Plunkett Foundation,<br />

which supports rural community businesses,<br />

says the sector is facing its biggest crisis in recent<br />

times. Plunkett’s research shows that as many<br />

as one in five businesses are vulnerable as a<br />

result of the UK’s mounting financial pressures.<br />

“Groups are fighting on multiple fronts,” says<br />

<strong>Co</strong>wcher. “Fatigued volunteers, diminished<br />

reserves, dealing with the governance of running<br />

an organisation, responding to local residents<br />

and having to try and plan ahead to make sure<br />

the sh<strong>op</strong>’s still viable next winter.”<br />

Another apex, Social Enterprise UK (SEUK),<br />

warns of “significant closure rates” among<br />

social enterprises, particularly in the last three<br />

months, estimating that as many as 10,000<br />

social enterprises are at risk of closure.<br />

“We’ve definitely seen a dr<strong>op</strong> in cash flow<br />

and reserve positions,” says SEUK’s director<br />

of research Emily Darko, who helps track the<br />

sector’s finances through a quarterly survey.<br />

Darko points to recent responses to these<br />

surveys which show that social enterprises’<br />

“vulnerability is increasing and pe<strong>op</strong>le are<br />

draining their reserves in order to hang on”.<br />

“We’re seeing a mixture of things happening,”<br />

she explains, “and some of it is quite similar to<br />

what we saw during <strong>Co</strong>vid.<br />

“But the overall sense that we have is that this<br />

is quite a bit more acute. We’re aware anecdotally<br />

that a significant number of social enterprises<br />

have already gone to the wall, and several more<br />

are pretty close to the edge.”<br />

Tim <strong>Co</strong>omer, business devel<strong>op</strong>ment manager<br />

at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Finance (CCF)<br />

says that when <strong>Co</strong>vid broke out, CCF went<br />

into “protect the portfolio” mode. “We were<br />

36 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

doing less lending but we wanted to be able<br />

to support our borrowers in the portfolio<br />

more, so we’ve certainly been doing a bit more<br />

intensive support.”<br />

During this time, co-<strong>op</strong>s and community<br />

businesses had to get creative with their finances<br />

to stay afloat, using a variety of survival tactics.<br />

While the kinds of emergency fundraisers<br />

mentioned earlier do cr<strong>op</strong> up from time to<br />

time, Darko says there has not been a surge in<br />

this activity among the social enterprises SEUK<br />

works with.<br />

“It definitely isn’t a primary solution for the<br />

challenges that pe<strong>op</strong>le are facing at the moment,<br />

from what I’ve seen,” she adds.<br />

A possible reason for this is that wouldbe<br />

donors are also feeling the effects of the<br />

economic crisis, so are less able to give, making<br />

crowdfunding a less viable form of fundraising.<br />

But if crowdfunding is less of an <strong>op</strong>tion in<br />

times of crisis, what are the alternatives?<br />

“In terms of what those who are close to<br />

the edge are doing, it’s a mixture of things.<br />

We’ve seen quite a lot of talk about reducing<br />

overheads,” says Darko.<br />

“We’ve seen social enterprises looking to<br />

absolutely pare back on what they need to spend<br />

on, getting rid of any non essential spends,<br />

looking at their supply chains and thinking<br />

about where they can cut costs.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>wcher also speaks of community businesses<br />

“cutting their cloth”. Plunkett is supporting its<br />

members through this process when needed<br />

– offering services like its free online business<br />

appraisal tool, and in-person health checks from<br />

business advisors.<br />

“We’re seeing pe<strong>op</strong>le making very simple but<br />

quite effective changes,” says <strong>Co</strong>wcher, “like<br />

turning off chillers in sh<strong>op</strong>s – working out that<br />

it’s costing more to run a chiller than to actually<br />

stock it and sell the products that are in it. So<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le are becoming more acutely aware of the<br />

margins of their business <strong>op</strong>eration.”<br />

This kind of cost cutting might mean reducing<br />

services or <strong>op</strong>ening hours, says <strong>Co</strong>wcher. “That<br />

has its knock on effect because it reduces the<br />

social impact, because then less pe<strong>op</strong>le are able<br />

to access the services that are available.”<br />

Darko explains that while some are reducing<br />

staff, this isn’t often a primary go-to for social<br />

enterprises. “Mainstream traditional businesses<br />

are more likely to shed staff when they’re<br />

reaching financial difficulty, social enterprises<br />

don’t. They tend to try and retain staff. We’ve<br />

seen staff hours being cut and things like that,<br />

and ‘natural attrition’ – staff not being replaced<br />

when pe<strong>op</strong>le leave. We’ve also seen social<br />

enterprises increasing wages and providing nonfinancial<br />

support to struggling staff, including<br />

support with food.”<br />

Both Plunkett and SEUK highlighted pivoting<br />

as another key survival method for community<br />

businesses and social enterprises.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>wcher gave a number of examples of<br />

community businesses that have pivoted towards<br />

the needs of their communities in recent months.<br />

Broughton Village Store in South Lanarkshire,<br />

Scotland, has started a welfare scheme to enable<br />

those who are struggling to access a fund which<br />

has been donated to by the local community to<br />

help pay for weekly groceries and sh<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“They’re retaining their customer base,” he<br />

says, “but they’re making sure the crisis is being<br />

shouldered by those with the broadest shoulders<br />

and that they are able to help those that are more<br />

vulnerable.”<br />

Meanwhile, the Blue Bell community pub<br />

in Stoke Ferry, Norfolk, is providing a warm<br />

place where pe<strong>op</strong>le can enjoy a hot meal and<br />

a bottomless pot of tea for £4, and Yr Heliwr<br />

pub in Nefyn, Wales, has been running ‘Family<br />

Kitchens’ providing pay-as-you-feel meals, with<br />

proceeds going to local food banks.<br />

Mainstream<br />

traditional<br />

businesses<br />

are more<br />

likely to<br />

shed staff<br />

when they’re<br />

reaching<br />

financial<br />

difficulty,<br />

social<br />

enterprises<br />

don’t”<br />

u<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 37

Pe<strong>op</strong>le in<br />

communities<br />

can become<br />

investors in<br />

a community<br />

business by<br />

buying shares,<br />

which makes<br />

them coowners<br />

and<br />

gives them a<br />

say in how the<br />

business is<br />

run<br />

“Those are just three very small examples<br />

of community businesses that are – because<br />

of being rooted in their community, knowing<br />

their customer base, and knowing who their<br />

vulnerable pe<strong>op</strong>le are in their locality – making<br />

sure that they are responding to this moment,”<br />

says <strong>Co</strong>wcher.<br />

Another <strong>op</strong>tion for raising funds is community<br />

shares, a form of equity that is only available to<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative and community benefit societies.<br />

Pe<strong>op</strong>le in communities can become investors<br />

in a community business by buying shares,<br />

which makes them co-owners and gives them a<br />

say in how the business is run.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>wcher describes community shares as an<br />

“absolutely integral” part of the community<br />

ownership model that Plunkett promotes.<br />

“At the early stages, we use community shares<br />

as a way of building a mass membership, that<br />

kind of wide and inclusive model of bringing<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in from across the community,” he says.<br />

“But also, there’s a significant and longstanding<br />

track record of community groups raising<br />

significant capital towards community projects.”<br />

He adds: “If you’ve got a changing<br />

demographic in a community – there’s a new<br />

housing devel<strong>op</strong>ment or new residents have<br />

moved in – there’s a new <strong>op</strong>portunity to bring in<br />

some money but also bring in new members to<br />

support the society’s activities.<br />

“So community shares still remains a very,<br />

very powerful resource, and over a long period<br />

of time has proven very successful.”<br />

According to a recent report from <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK, to date, 130,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le have<br />

invested £210m in 539 community businesses<br />

and organisations through 709 share offers.<br />

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

describes community shares as “enabling<br />

communities in innovative and life-changing<br />

ways while ensuring that ownership and control<br />

of these community businesses stays with the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le they matter to the most.<br />

“It’s like crowdfunding but you get to become<br />

an owner too.”<br />

John Dawson, head of market devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, echoed this point, saying<br />

that with community shares, “you’re becoming<br />

a member of the society and you’re building in<br />

that user base. Whereas through crowdfunding,<br />

it’s a bit more of a transactional relationship that<br />

doesn’t necessarily continue onwards.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity share offers also tend to be more<br />

planned out than emergency crowdfunders,<br />

often coming with a business plan, detailed<br />

projection, share offer document and set<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osal to raise money over the long term.<br />

According to the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK report,<br />

92% of businesses that have run community<br />

share offers are still trading, a figure that has not<br />

changed since 2020.<br />

Although crowdfunding can be a good way<br />

to inject some cash into a co-<strong>op</strong> in the short<br />

term, withstanding a serious period of crisis<br />

may require the kinds of activities that increase<br />

resilience overall.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s are still a particularly resilient model,<br />

and were found to be four times less likely to go<br />

bust during 2020.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>omer points to membership as one of the<br />

key factors here, saying that with co-<strong>op</strong>s, and<br />

especially community businesses, “it’s a much<br />

wider pool you can go out to.<br />

“I think it’s where co-<strong>op</strong>s have managed to<br />

grow their membership and keep growing their<br />

membership that are probably the ones that<br />

have been and will be most resilient.”<br />

38 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

Human touch<br />

By Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />






In recent years, the third Monday in January has<br />

been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’. First concocted for<br />

a UK travel company’s marketing campaign, it<br />

was supposedly the most depressing day of the<br />

year, thanks to cold weather, shorter days and<br />

post-Christmas financial pressures.<br />

This reflects increased attention around the<br />

world to mental health – for instance, with the<br />

mention of suicide and mental health in the<br />

UN’s Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goal around<br />

health and wellbeing.<br />

The pandemic has made things tougher, with<br />

the World Health Organisation reporting a 25%<br />

increase in anxiety and depression in 2020.<br />

And although the idea of Blue Monday is<br />

pseudoscience, it does offer society the chance<br />

to discuss mental health.<br />

Suicide prevention charity Samaritans, for<br />

example, promotes ‘Brew Monday’, encouraging<br />

the public to reach out and connect with family,<br />

friends and colleagues over a cuppa – not only<br />

on this day, but regularly.<br />

“The whole purpose of Brew Monday was to<br />

try and get pe<strong>op</strong>le together and spend some<br />

quality time with each other. Rather than<br />

isolating and being busy with their own lives,<br />

to share a cup of tea and a catch up with other<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le,” says S<strong>op</strong>hia of the Manchester and<br />

Salford Samaritans.<br />

The Manchester and Salford branch volunteers<br />

hosted a number of events for Brew Monday,<br />

collectively making over 250 connections across<br />

a range of organisations, as well as offering faceto-face<br />

support to pe<strong>op</strong>le who are struggling.<br />

This growing awareness of mental health can<br />

also be seen in the co-<strong>op</strong>erative world, with UK<br />

retail societies launching initiatives and funding<br />

charities such as Samaritans.<br />

There are also co-<strong>op</strong>s directly involved in<br />

UK mental health provision, such as the Good<br />

Mental Health <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative, the Lanarkshire<br />

Association for Mental Health and Men’s Sheds<br />

Cymru providing spaces that promote mental<br />

wellbeing through human connection.<br />

Further afield in Saskatchewan, Canada,<br />

Crocus <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative was established in 1982 by<br />

community members who were seeking peer<br />

support after receiving psychiatric care. Starting<br />

with simple meetings at home, Crocus now runs<br />

a space which hosts around 75 pe<strong>op</strong>le a day.<br />

u<br />

The whole<br />

purpose of<br />

Brew Monday<br />

was to try and<br />

get pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

together and<br />

spend some<br />

quality time<br />

with each<br />

other”<br />

t Canada’s Healthy<br />

Minds <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> works<br />

to empower pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

with mental health<br />

issues (Image: Tyler<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lburne)<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 39

When you<br />

empower<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to be<br />

a part of the<br />

solution for<br />

something<br />

that they’re<br />

intimately<br />

experiencing,<br />

I believe there<br />

are better<br />

outcomes”<br />

q Healthy Minds<br />

believes the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

ethos brings better<br />

outcomes (Image:<br />

Tyler <strong>Co</strong>lburne)<br />

Everyone who accesses the space becomes a<br />

lifetime member of the co-<strong>op</strong> and the board is<br />

made up of 51% co-<strong>op</strong> members.<br />

Executive director Taylor Baier says this level<br />

of involvement is often lacking in mental health<br />

provision. “In the mental health world, a lot of<br />

times pe<strong>op</strong>le are telling you what you should<br />

be doing and what you need. And our model<br />

as a co-<strong>op</strong> suggests that the pe<strong>op</strong>le with lived<br />

experience are the experts, and they’re the ones<br />

that should be deciding what they need and how<br />

they need it.”<br />

A similar approach is taken by Healthy Minds<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> in Nova Scotia. The phrase “nothing about<br />

us, without us” is used by founding member<br />

Susan Kilbride R<strong>op</strong>er. “It’s made a difference to<br />

us to be able to live by the co-<strong>op</strong> model…there<br />

was no other model that was so member-driven.”<br />

R<strong>op</strong>er, who at 16 began experiencing what<br />

would later be diagnosed as bipolar disorder,<br />

says a driving factor for Healthy Minds was the<br />

need for better representation on community<br />

needs for pe<strong>op</strong>le with mental health issues.<br />

Tyler <strong>Co</strong>lbourne, Healthy Minds’ executive<br />

director, agrees. “When you empower pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

to be a part of the solution for something that<br />

they’re intimately experiencing, I believe there<br />

are better outcomes.”<br />

Healthy Minds is undergoing a membership<br />

renewal process, having recently reached out<br />

to its more than 400 members to centre their<br />

experience in the running of the co-<strong>op</strong>. The co<strong>op</strong><br />

is also looking at a multi-stakeholder model,<br />

which would help staff become more embedded<br />

in the co-<strong>op</strong> and gain greater agency at work.<br />

The need for autonomy at work, and a general<br />

dissatisfaction with employment <strong>op</strong>tions for<br />

mental health workers, led clinical psychologist<br />

Billie Somerville to set up Alliance <strong>Co</strong>llective, a<br />

mental health worker co-<strong>op</strong> based in New York.<br />

At first, he set up as a solo practitioner, but<br />

soon realised he needed a community.<br />

“In the state of New York, there are so many<br />

laws around profession of mental health, that<br />

impose a lot of hierarchies and create a lot of<br />

obstacles to co-<strong>op</strong>eration in this space. So I<br />

started a long research project, involving several<br />

different lawyers and many thousands of dollars,<br />

to eventually arrive with a legal structure that<br />

allows us to function as a co-<strong>op</strong>.”<br />

Among the first to sign up was social worker<br />

Juliet Spier, who describes her involvement in<br />

Alliance as “a huge blessing during one of the<br />

most challenging times of my life and that for<br />

most of our clients”.<br />

Alliance was able to grant Spier three months<br />

paid time off while she was unable to work due<br />

to long <strong>Co</strong>vid last year. “[The experience] ​has<br />

really shown me how important it is to feel like<br />

I’m in a work environment where others are<br />

accommodating to what’s happening for me,”<br />

she said, “and where I matter more as a human<br />

being than just a worker.”<br />

In the wider co-<strong>op</strong> world, wellbeing<br />

conversations are becoming more prevalent in<br />

sectors where mental health is a challenge – like<br />

agriculture, where farmers have a higher rate of<br />

suicide than the general p<strong>op</strong>ulation.<br />

Dr Tara Haskins, total farmer health director at<br />

the AgriSafe Network, a non-profit that supports<br />

the wellbeing of agricultural communities in<br />

the US, says there are a multitude of factors that<br />

can impact on farmers’ mental health. Pressures<br />

include the need to maintain connections in<br />

a community, unexpected challenges such as<br />

weather events and injury, financial struggles,<br />

family dynamics and sleep deprivation.<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le that work in agriculture are often self<br />

made, and very stoic,” says Haskins. “That is the<br />

mindset that allows them to be successful, but<br />

sometimes that same mindset can prevent them<br />

from seeking help or care when they need it.”<br />

To mitigate some of these risks, AgriSafe<br />

runs a number of initiatives, including the<br />

recent launch of a crisis line for producers,<br />

training for healthcare professionals and<br />

community members, and a Mental Health<br />

Innovation Exchange events programme.<br />

This activity is part-funded by farmerowned<br />

CHS, one of the US’s leading<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s with over 10,000 employees worldwide.<br />

“Several years ago, we started hearing from<br />

some of our members that they were under<br />

an immense amount of stress,” says senior<br />

40 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

stewardship specialist Tera Stoddard, who adds<br />

that when it comes to mental health, “CHS may<br />

not be the expert, but we did want to provide<br />

some resources for our members to help them in<br />

their journey.”<br />

CHS sees its role in this area as a connector<br />

and “trusted partner”, says Stoddard. “Even<br />

though CHS is a large co-<strong>op</strong>erative, we can put<br />

faces and names to the issue.”<br />

The relationship CHS has with its members,<br />

she adds, is vital to ensuring they have the<br />

support they need to take care of their wellbeing.<br />

A similar sentiment is shared by Richard Kaye,<br />

who works for Openfield, a UK grain marketing<br />

and arable input co-<strong>op</strong>erative owned by its<br />

4,000 members.<br />

In recent years Openfield has ramped up<br />

communications about mental wellbeing,<br />

making more use of its platforms internally and<br />

externally.<br />

“By doing that, we are promoting that it’s all<br />

right to talk about mental health,” says Kaye.<br />

“Senior leadership talk about it, so when our<br />

reps are talking to our members and they sense<br />

something’s not quite right, they’ve got the<br />

courage to raise it.”<br />

Openfield regularly shares content about<br />

wellbeing on social media, including a tweet on<br />

Blue Monday promoting the Lincolnshire Rural<br />

Support Network and the Farming <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Network helplines. It dedicates at least two<br />

pages of its colleague publication to wellbeing<br />

t<strong>op</strong>ics every issue; December’s edition included<br />

a guide to managing new year anxiety.<br />

Both Openfield and CHS say that being co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

gives them more incentive than a traditional<br />

business to consider their members’ wellbeing.<br />

Stoddard says that as a co-<strong>op</strong>erative, CHS has<br />

“more skin in the game”, adding “the pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

that we are targeting these resources to are the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le that own us. And so there’s that deeper<br />

personal connection and responsibility, to really<br />

take care of our farmer owners, maybe more so<br />

than if we were just a corporation.”<br />

The concept of connection was a recurring<br />

theme throughout all of these conversations,<br />

and a key part of the Brew Monday initiative led<br />

by Samaritans, says S<strong>op</strong>hia.<br />

“Human connection allows the <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

to feel part of something, a community. Brew<br />

Monday was asking pe<strong>op</strong>le to break down those<br />

barriers about difficult conversations. So checking<br />

in with pe<strong>op</strong>le and seeing how they’re doing,<br />

which often we don’t do in our normal lives.”<br />

Social worker Claudia Maisch echoes this<br />

focus on connection and understanding when<br />

talking about her experience as a worker member<br />

at Alliance <strong>Co</strong>llective. “We all need pe<strong>op</strong>le, we<br />

need connection,” she says. “So much of our<br />

world tries to dismember and pathologise that<br />

need. I think a lot of pe<strong>op</strong>le feel very alienated<br />

in our world … so the more we can return pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

to their needs of connection, I think absolutely<br />

helps pe<strong>op</strong>le’s mental health.<br />

“And as a worker in this world, I think the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

model has really allowed me to feel<br />

less afraid of talking about my needs and feel<br />

more supported and more heard and understood<br />

by my colleagues.”<br />

Tyler <strong>Co</strong>lbourne from Healthy Minds goes a<br />

step further: he believes co-<strong>op</strong>s are “part of the<br />

solution for a better world”.<br />

“We see crumbling systems left, right and<br />

centre,” he says. “Pe<strong>op</strong>le are dying in emergency<br />

rooms, police are having to respond to more<br />

mental health crises. So I think we’re at a<br />

convergent point where I think things are going<br />

to have to shift, and I h<strong>op</strong>e co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are part<br />

of the solution going forward.”<br />

Farmers have<br />

a higher rate<br />

of suicide than<br />

the general<br />

p<strong>op</strong>ulation in<br />

a number of<br />

countries<br />

p CHS <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> in the<br />

US is working with its<br />

farmer members on<br />

mental health<br />

and wellbeing<br />

(Image: CHS)<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 41

Carbon<br />

offsetting<br />

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



By Miles Hadfield<br />

A carbon offsetting co-<strong>op</strong> has been launched<br />

to ensure that climate action helps the world’s<br />

poorest pe<strong>op</strong>le, who are being worst affected by<br />

global heating.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Climate Action – launched<br />

by five volunteer co-founders from the UK,<br />

France and Malawi – says it offers offsets that<br />

“reduce carbon, sustain biodiversity, and have<br />

the potential to tackle poverty and support<br />

small community businesses, so they can be<br />

economically sustainable in the long term”.<br />

The team is led by Mark Lewis – former chair<br />

of Wooldale <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative, now part of Central,<br />

and founder director of the Fair Traders <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

– and has already identified a number<br />

of viable projects, established a resource centre<br />

in Malawi, and undertaken a pilot planting of<br />

360 giant clumping bamboo plants.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are doing a lot to move towards<br />

net zero,” said Lewis, “but in the meantime<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in Malawi, one of the poorest countries<br />

in the world, are already suffering from flooding,<br />

disease, and hunger because of climate change,<br />

and it will only get worse over the next decade.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Climate Action has been<br />

launched for pe<strong>op</strong>le who want to offset their<br />

carbon emissions by helping those worst<br />

affected in a spirit of co-<strong>op</strong>eration.”<br />

He says the bamboo plants in Malawi are<br />

one way to help tackle the climate crisis. “This<br />

non-invasive cultivar absorbs more than four<br />

times the amount of CO2 annually than the<br />

fastest growing trees and provides a sustainable<br />

source of fuel that removes the need to cut down<br />

mature trees.<br />

“Furthermore, it can provide goat fodder,<br />

nutritious food, water treatment, erosion control,<br />

and replace steel and timber in construction.“<br />

Action on the environment is crucial in<br />

Malawi. Lewis points out that as only a tiny<br />

42 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

minority of the p<strong>op</strong>ulation has electricity, and<br />

gas is unaffordable, charcoal and firewood is<br />

used to cook and boil water, which has led to the<br />

devastation of the country’s mature forests.<br />

To remedy this, the co-<strong>op</strong> is working with<br />

small local groups instead of large commercial<br />

plantations. It has set up a collaboration with<br />

the Wildlife and Environmental Association<br />

of Malawi, which has over 3,000 volunteer<br />

groups around the country, to establish small<br />

community plots.<br />

“This makes planting and care easier as well<br />

as reducing the need for women to carry the fuel<br />

long distances as happens at present,” adds<br />

Lewis. “Smallholders contribute financially so<br />

they value the plants and can repay the cost after<br />

three years when harvesting starts.<br />

“They are setting up a robust measurement,<br />

reporting and verification process and will be<br />

establishing a co-<strong>op</strong>erative in Malawi to manage<br />

the project.”<br />

Having started with investment from the<br />

founder directors, the co-<strong>op</strong> now h<strong>op</strong>es to<br />

expand the planting and implement other<br />

projects with funding from the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement.<br />

One possible area of action is replacing the<br />

charcoal fires used for cooking and heating.<br />

Potential solutions depend on the local<br />

conditions, says the co-<strong>op</strong>, but in this part of<br />

Malawi agricultural waste in the form of rice<br />

husks and bagasse from sugar cane is readily<br />

available.<br />

This can be converted to fuel briquettes using<br />

simple technology, but local businesses need<br />

capital and training to get started. The co-<strong>op</strong><br />

says it has obtained a pilot-scale machine to<br />

demonstrate the technology and now needs<br />

funding to get the product into the market and<br />

scale up production.<br />

Another project in its early days is Sani<br />

Carpentry <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative, set up to sell products<br />

made from sustainable wood. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Climate Action has donated a building and tools<br />

to the start-up and found a carpenter willing<br />

to train local young pe<strong>op</strong>le. Sani now needs<br />

funding to install solar power and cover its<br />

initial losses.<br />

Funds are also needed for the Kasangazi Hydro<br />

Scheme, set up by a local construction worker on<br />

a small hillside stream “using a 10m plastic pipe,<br />

an old generator, some wire and a couple of old<br />

p<strong>op</strong> bottles to increase the outlet water velocity;<br />

all for about £200”.<br />

It supplies over 50 households, plus the local<br />

primary school, and a maize mill with power<br />

so they can have light in the evenings, charge<br />

phones, and watch TV. It has secured funding to<br />

build a pr<strong>op</strong>er dam but the turbine and generator<br />

need replacing, and it also has plans for a small<br />

manufacturing unit.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Climate Action also wants to<br />

introduce solar pumps, to replace the petrol<br />

ones used to extract water from Lake Malawi for<br />

irrigation, and to dam a feeder stream for use as<br />

a fish pond. It has identified a possible site and is<br />

receiving technical assistance from the fisheries<br />

department.<br />

One of the effects of climate change on Malawi<br />

is disruption to the electricity supply – it has<br />

reduced water levels in the country’s hydro<br />

power system so severely there are frequent<br />

power cuts. To help pe<strong>op</strong>le light their homes<br />

at night – allowing children to study – the co<strong>op</strong><br />

is importing solar panels, LED light bulbs<br />

and rechargeable batteries for under £15 for<br />

households to buy over a six-month period. It is<br />

now looking for funds to increase the shipment<br />

and set up a business to administer the scheme.<br />

Individuals or corporates can become<br />

members and purchase offsets from the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

website and are encouraged to assist with the<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the business.<br />

For further information contact Mark Lewis<br />

at: info@co<strong>op</strong>climateaction.com<br />

p A sample set of fuel<br />

briquettes from agri<br />

waste<br />

One of the petrol<br />

pumps used to pump<br />

water from the lake<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 43

Can the co-<strong>op</strong> model fix our<br />

anti-social<br />

media?<br />

By Miles Hadfield<br />

Social media has long been the source of unease<br />

which periodically balloons into full-scale crisis<br />

whenever there is a fresh outpouring of hate<br />

speech, fake news and conspiracy theories,<br />

or the alleged manipulation of user data to<br />

undermine democratic processes. At the most<br />

serious end of the scale are allegations that<br />

Facebook algorithms shared hate speech which,<br />

a report by Amnesty International argues, helped<br />

incite the 2017 genocide against the Rohingya<br />

Muslim community in Myanmar; social media<br />

was also implicated in the racist mass shooting<br />

in Buffalo, USA, in 2022.<br />

Problems often come hand in hand with<br />

technological innovations, which spread and<br />

evolve faster than societies can anticipate and<br />

adapt to, and in unexpected directions. Social<br />

media can seem especially threatening because<br />

it connects itself so intimately to its users –<br />

and hoovers up their data in the process; and<br />

its explosion has left policymakers around the<br />

world floundering for solutions, with pr<strong>op</strong>osals<br />

ranging from trust-busting measures to the<br />

ongoing saga of the UK Online Safety Bill.<br />

It’s a sad outcome, given the <strong>op</strong>timism<br />

which initially surrounded the internet and its<br />

potential to reform human discourse and power<br />

structures. Social media activists have notched<br />

up a number of successes – notably defying a<br />

gagging order brought in 2009 by law firm Carter<br />

Ruck, acting for oil trading company Trafigura,<br />

accused of dumping toxic waste in <strong>Co</strong>te d’Ivoire.<br />

Trafigura went on to pay a £30m out of court<br />

settlement, in a class action suit brought by<br />

nearly 30,000 Ivorians.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators – and in particular those<br />

involved in the platform co-<strong>op</strong> movement – have<br />

long been highlighting the potential of mutual<br />

ownership models to clean up social media.<br />

In 2017 they submitted a motion to Twitter’s<br />

44 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

shareholders to consider conversion to a co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

model. It gained just 4% of the vote but<br />

prompted valuable debate – debate which has<br />

re-<strong>op</strong>ened after the messy saga of Elon Musk’s<br />

US$44bn takeover of the tech giant.<br />

Another reform advocate is Timothy Devinney,<br />

professor of international business at the UK’s<br />

University of Manchester, who pr<strong>op</strong>osed in<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>nversation last month “a hybrid of a co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and a public company for Twitter”.<br />

He suggests buying out Musk and his backers<br />

“via a combination of cash, loans and debt<br />

rollovers” and reforming Twitter under a B<strong>Co</strong>rp<br />

model of ethical business.<br />

A single Twitter share would go to any<br />

individual or company with a Twitter account<br />

with minimum usage; and anyone with an<br />

active account could purchase up to nine more<br />

shares at an IPO price to be determined, with a<br />

maximum holding of ten.<br />

Anyone wishing to join Twitter in future would<br />

have to purchase at least one share at the market<br />

price, with “gratis” shares for groups such as<br />

charities or NGOs.<br />

Anyone violating Twitter’s user policy – over<br />

hate speech, for example – would have their<br />

account suspended, including any claim to<br />

dividends. They could, however, sell their shares<br />

and close their accounts.<br />

In his <strong>Co</strong>nversation piece, Devinney argues<br />

this is a better method of validation than<br />

simply paying for a blue tick. “One cannot<br />

remain anonymous to the organisation as an<br />

individual shareholder. It removes the threat of<br />

fake accounts, and gives users a formal say in<br />

company decisions.”<br />

It would also bring Twitter into public<br />

ownership, <strong>op</strong>ening up its management and<br />

governance to scrutiny. “Users would be able<br />

to benefit financially and socially from the<br />

platform’s success. And it gives Musk a way to<br />

minimise his losses and exit Twitter easily.”<br />

Crucially, he adds: “It could become the public<br />

forum we need,” giving pe<strong>op</strong>le a tool to respond<br />

to political and corporate control.<br />

Meanwhile, the group of “users, shareholders<br />

and workers” behind the Buy Twitter campaign<br />

– including platform co-<strong>op</strong>erators Danny<br />

Spitzberg and Nathan Schneider – have renewed<br />

their efforts, <strong>op</strong>erating as #BetterPlatform.<br />

The group is canvassing the public for ideas<br />

“to imagine a better platform where we decide,<br />

The wave of dismissals<br />

that followed Musk’s arrival<br />

prompted a feeling of “chaos<br />

and anxiety” with “little h<strong>op</strong>e<br />

for any real agency”<br />

together” how to bring “broad-based ownership<br />

and accountability” to Twitter.<br />

The wave of dismissals that followed Musk’s<br />

arrival prompted a feeling of “chaos and<br />

anxiety” with “little h<strong>op</strong>e for any real agency”,<br />

with more than 20,000 users joining an online<br />

space hosted by Buzzfeed tech reporter Katie<br />

Not<strong>op</strong>oulos to bemoan the situation.<br />

Spurred into action, Better Platform recently<br />

polled its followers and found three key<br />

takeaways: that the site is seen as a “public<br />

utility”; those who get the most value work in<br />

journalism, content moderation, and influence;<br />

and the t<strong>op</strong> wish is for a new governing body.<br />

And 57% of the 17,500,000 votes called for<br />

Musk to step down; asked how the next CEO<br />

should be chosen, the most p<strong>op</strong>ular <strong>op</strong>tion was<br />

a civic assembly on 39.8% – beating a “smokefilled<br />

boardroom” into second place on 36% and<br />

a Twitter poll to 24.2%.<br />

pElon Musk’s<br />

acquisition of Twitter<br />

is the latest source of<br />

unrest in the world of<br />

social media<br />

(Images: Getty)<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 45

SEWA Delhi Declaration<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

p The Declaration<br />

was ad<strong>op</strong>ted on 14<br />

December at SEWA’s<br />

national worksh<strong>op</strong> in<br />

Delhi (Photo credit:<br />

SEWA)<br />




POLICY<br />

SEWA <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Federation held a national<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong> in Delhi on 13-14 December to<br />

celebrate its 40th anniversary. Over 100 women<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators from 18 states across India attended<br />

the event, which was co-organised by SEWA, the<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Union of India (NCUI) and<br />

ICA Asia-Pacific (ICA-AP).<br />

Themed Strengthening Solidarity: Enabling<br />

Women’s <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives and <strong>Co</strong>llective Enterprises<br />

to Thrive, the worksh<strong>op</strong> explored issues around<br />

access to finance, the ease of doing business,<br />

marketing, governance, capacity-building and<br />

digital inclusion.<br />

As it closed, the event ad<strong>op</strong>ted a declaration,<br />

making a series of recommendations to<br />

strengthen women’s co-<strong>op</strong>s and women’s<br />

leadership within the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement.<br />

One of SEWA’s main commitments in the<br />

declaration is to continue to organise women,<br />

particularly those in the informal economy,<br />

into co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. The apex also promises<br />

to continue linking women with government<br />

programmes and support services to support<br />

their economic empowerment.<br />

Another pledge is to keep providing access to<br />

affordable financial services for women, including<br />

working capital and insurance. Alongside this,<br />

SEWA will continue to offer financial literacy and<br />

management training to women co-<strong>op</strong>erators to<br />

help them grow their businesses.<br />

Another important area of work for SEWA<br />

is co-<strong>op</strong>erative education and the federation<br />

intends to keep educating women workers on<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative values and principles while<br />

building social solidarity. To this end, SEWA<br />

will continue to provide capacity-building and<br />

leadership programmes for women co-<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

while devel<strong>op</strong>ing a network of grassroots<br />

trainers and providing <strong>op</strong>portunities for peer-t<strong>op</strong>eer<br />

learning and digital literacy.<br />

46 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

The largest section of the declaration<br />

includes suggestions and commitments<br />

around advocating for appr<strong>op</strong>riate laws,<br />

policies and programmes that promote<br />

women’s co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and collective<br />

entrepreneurship. To this end, SEWA pledges<br />

to collect gender-disaggregated, state-wide<br />

data and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and share this with<br />

state and national authorities to enable co<strong>op</strong>erative-to-co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

trade.<br />

The apex also calls for a simplification of<br />

the registration procedures for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

engaged in non-traditional economic activities,<br />

and the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of new compliance and<br />

reporting systems through a consultative<br />

process with women co-<strong>op</strong>erators.<br />

Across the two days, women co-<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

highlighted the urgent need to simplify the<br />

registration process for women’s co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Renana Jhabvala, president of SEWA Bharat and<br />

Padma Shri Award winner, pointed out that it<br />

can take a year and a half to set up a women’s co<strong>op</strong><br />

under the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Act, while registering<br />

under the <strong>Co</strong>mpany Act takes only a month.<br />

“There is a need to look at the matter and<br />

make the process easy,” she told the meeting.<br />

Other measures suggested in the declaration<br />

include a tax exemption for women’s co-<strong>op</strong> with a<br />

turnover of up to Rs20 crore (£1.98m), devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

a women’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative enterprise devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

fund, ensuring that the autonomy of co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong> federations is recognised and<br />

protected, and supporting the digitisation of<br />

women’s co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. The declaration also<br />

demands increased representation for women<br />

on co-<strong>op</strong> boards.<br />

The event also heard from ICA-AP president<br />

Chandra Pal Singh Yadav, who addressed the<br />

lack of female representation on some co-<strong>op</strong><br />

boards, calling on women to “fight elections”<br />

rather than restricting themselves to competition<br />

for all-women reserved seats.<br />

With the G20 taking place in India this<br />

year, SEWA’s declaration highlights the<br />

importance of linking women’s co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and their federations with the G20 processes,<br />

showcasing their contributions to the Indian<br />

and global economy and facilitating preferential<br />

procurement from co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

including<br />

export orders.<br />

Over the course of<br />

the two days women’s<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s attending the<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong> were able<br />

to sell their products<br />

at a dedicated Women<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Bazaar<br />

Over 100 women<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators from<br />

18 states across India<br />

attended the event<br />

within the NCUI<br />

premises, which served<br />

as the venue for the<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>.<br />

The declaration was presented to the national<br />

committee set up by the Indian government<br />

to devel<strong>op</strong> a new national co-<strong>op</strong>erative policy.<br />

SEWA says it h<strong>op</strong>es the committee will include<br />

the recommendations in the national co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

policy, currently in devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

t Over 100 women<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators from 18<br />

states met in Delhi for<br />

the national worksh<strong>op</strong><br />

(Photo credit: SEWA)<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong> | 47

REVIEW<br />

Citizenship: Storyteller’s big fix to usher in a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative new world<br />

Citizens: Why the Key<br />

to Fixing Everything Is<br />

All of Us<br />

by Jon Alexander with<br />

Ariane <strong>Co</strong>nrad<br />

Canbury Press, £20<br />

With pandemic, war, economic problems and<br />

ecological crises piling up, we find ourselves – not<br />

for the first time in history – with tough decisions<br />

to make, and here is the latest in a line of books by<br />

progressive thinkers, suggesting collective response.<br />

Inspiring such collective action is a tough call in<br />

an era of growing individualism, as co-author Jon<br />

Alexander knows too well – a former ad man until<br />

he lost his stomach for the industry’s excesses,<br />

he was a footsoldier in the consumer culture that<br />

helped to undermine our collective spirit. He now<br />

believes that we need to st<strong>op</strong> seeing ourselves as<br />

consumers, and start acting, on a daily basis, as<br />

citizens to meet the world’s challenges.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators have long advocated the telling of<br />

stories to promote the movement’s strengths, and<br />

Alexander values narrative. <strong>Co</strong>-written with ‘book<br />

doula’ Ariane <strong>Co</strong>nrad, this books sees the history<br />

of human identity as one of changing stories: for<br />

much of history the dominant narrative was the<br />

Subject Story, placing pe<strong>op</strong>le under the authority<br />

of a crown; the <strong>Co</strong>nsumer Story offered a liberation<br />

from this but now “in order to survive and thrive,<br />

we must step into the Citizen Story”. Citizens, he<br />

says, are “pe<strong>op</strong>le who actively shape the world<br />

around us, who cultivate meaningful connections<br />

to their community and institutions, who can<br />

imagine a different and better life, who care and<br />

take responsibility, and who create <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

for others to do the same.”<br />

The path to this is not a clear one. If the pandemic<br />

inspired citizen efforts, it also prompted consumerbased<br />

government initiatives like the UK’s thenchancellor<br />

Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out<br />

scheme. And businesses which won praise for their<br />

ethical stance, such as BrewDog, have often found<br />

themselves mired in ethical problems.<br />

Retail co-<strong>op</strong>s also have one foot in the citizen and<br />

consumer camps, and Alexander uses his notion of<br />

the two stories to shed fresh light on the crisis at the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group that led to the loss of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank.<br />

He notes that the citizen ethos was part of the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

at its inception in Rochdale. But “as the <strong>Co</strong>nsumer<br />

Story took hold … and challenges to market share<br />

arose from the fast-growing supermarket chains,<br />

the model began to creak, and ultimately power<br />

flooded in from the local to the central.”<br />

The centralisation process, starting in the 1960s,<br />

led to “a corporation called the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group”, says<br />

Alexander – a “ big beast, which was far more<br />

distant and less relatable”.<br />

The Bank, he argues, “was at the epicentre of the<br />

problem. When power poured into what had been<br />

the CWS, all the various governance structures<br />

were simply thrown together, and resulted in a<br />

huge bank governed by a board arguably akin to<br />

the worst kind of parish council, its members more<br />

motivated by perceived status than meaningful<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities to contribute.”<br />

Alexander’s response to such events was to help<br />

launch the New Citizenship Project (NCP), which<br />

has been working with the Group – as well as<br />

organisations such as the National Trust and the<br />

BBC – to encourage more participation by members<br />

and users. With the Group, NCP has “crowdsourced<br />

recipes for new food products, co-created a new<br />

travel insurance offering, invited widespread input<br />

into its new food sourcing policy, and much more”.<br />

A highlight, he says, is the work during the<br />

pandemic of the Group’s Member Participation<br />

team to establish a network of online, member-led<br />

229 ‘grief cafés,’ where members come together to<br />

share an online space to feel less alone.<br />

Alexander sees the co-<strong>op</strong> model as a useful driver<br />

for the citizenship ethos, and also highlights newer<br />

ideas like platform co-<strong>op</strong>erativism and the campaign<br />

for citizen-controlled social media platforms.<br />

If co-<strong>op</strong>eration is a useful mechanism for his<br />

Citizen Story, the Citizen Story also offers inspiration<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong>s. Alexander compiles moving case studies<br />

of individuals coming together to improve their<br />

communities – from a residents’ group in Grimsby<br />

to activists in a slum on the edge of Nairobi, Kenya,<br />

working to tackle sexual violence, clean streets and<br />

launch small businesses. He’s realistic about the<br />

barriers to progress, but he takes an <strong>op</strong>timistic view<br />

of human nature and argues that we need to roll up<br />

our sleeves to make change happen.<br />

“This work of transformation is not easy. We<br />

have to get beyond the usual suspects of mission<br />

statements, supply chains, diversity initiatives.<br />

We have to go beneath the surface, and rebuild<br />

from the inside out. We have to get into the detail.<br />

This is because, even having recognised the<br />

Citizen in ourselves and others as individuals,<br />

the gravitational pull of business-as-usual in<br />

entrenched institutions can still drag us back to the<br />

old ways of doing things.”<br />

48 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative is Scotland’s<br />

largest independent co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and has been at the heart<br />

of Scottish communities since 1859.<br />

We have an exciting <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

for someone to join our business<br />

in the new role of Society<br />

Secretary, reporting directly to<br />

our Board of Directors.<br />

If you relish a challenge and the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to influence at a<br />

senior level, whilst also making a<br />

difference to local communities,<br />

this is the role for you!<br />

We would consider applicants who<br />

are currently working in a Deputy<br />

Secretary role or similar, who are<br />

seeking a devel<strong>op</strong>ment <strong>op</strong>portunity.<br />

The role will provide full secretariat<br />

support to the Board. In addition,<br />

the Society Secretary will also<br />

provide support and guidance to<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity and Membership<br />

Team to ensure the effective<br />

implementation of the Society’s<br />

Membership Strategy.<br />

While listed as a full-time position,<br />

we would be happy to consider<br />

candidates that require part time<br />

or compressed hours.<br />

The role will be primarily based<br />

in our Head Office in Newbridge,<br />

Edinburgh, but there are<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities for hybrid working.<br />

There is a comprehensive<br />

remuneration package on offer for<br />

this demanding role, including:<br />

• Indicative salary circa £70k<br />

(dependant<br />

on experience)<br />

• Defined Benefit Pension<br />

Scheme<br />

• Tax beneficial share saving<br />

scheme<br />

• BUPA (dental and health) for<br />

employee,<br />

reduced rates for family<br />

• Cycle to Work salary sacrifice<br />

scheme<br />

• Generous holiday entitlement<br />

How to apply<br />

For a full job specification, visit bit.ly/3k2Hgmb<br />

To apply, please submit your CV and cover letter to<br />

lmacgillivray@scotmid.co.uk no later than 28 <strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

For further information on our business, visit www.scotmid.co.uk

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>nversations with Gamechangers –<br />

Guerrilla Translation<br />

11 <strong>February</strong> (online, 3-5pm GMT)<br />

Guerrilla Translation is an activist<br />

commons-oriented co-<strong>op</strong>erative created<br />

to share ideas between communities and<br />

spread the word about things that matter.<br />

To help support activist translators and<br />

freelancers to use their skills for causes<br />

they care about while also making a living,<br />

Guerrilla Translation has devel<strong>op</strong>ed a<br />

new kind of livelihood vehicle which<br />

combines two functions: a voluntary<br />

translation/media collective working for<br />

activist causes, and an income-generating<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erative agency providing translation<br />

and communication services.<br />

bit.ly/3VjKuiM<br />

Fairtrade Fortnight<br />

27 <strong>February</strong> - 12 March<br />

This year’s campaign, which is backed<br />

by and supports co-<strong>op</strong>eratives around<br />

the world, will highlight the message<br />

that whatever your budget and wherever<br />

you sh<strong>op</strong>, when you choose Fairtrade,<br />

you support farmers to take care of the<br />

environment through Fairtrade’s Price,<br />

Premium and Programmes.<br />

bit.ly/3kIfCLG<br />

UK Society for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Studies<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

24-25 <strong>February</strong> (Lincoln, UK)<br />

This conference will take the <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

to reflect on <strong>Co</strong>nsumer <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

particularly in the context of the business<br />

and service delivery changes over the past<br />

three years. The programme will include<br />

panel discussions and academic papers,<br />

exploring the position of consumer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in the present, looking<br />

at member engagement, the use of<br />

technology to facilitate online meetings<br />

and how data is shaping retailers’<br />

relationships with members.<br />

ukscs.co<strong>op</strong><br />

Women’s Voices<br />

8 March (Staffordshire, UK)<br />

To celebrate international Women’s Day<br />

<strong>2023</strong>, Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is again hosting its<br />

annual Women’s Voices event, at the<br />

National Memorial Arboretum, with<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s and guest speakers including<br />

Dame Pauline Green and Dame Margaret<br />

Beckett.<br />

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

24-26 March (Cheshire, UK)<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Retail <strong>Co</strong>nference is the<br />

only annual event designed specifically<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong> retailers. It attracts leaders,<br />

managers and directors of consumer<br />

owned retail co-<strong>op</strong>s from across the UK.<br />

uk.co<strong>op</strong>/crc<br />

Playground for the New Economy Festival<br />

19-20 May (Manchester, UK)<br />

Stir to Action’s annual festival is heading<br />

to Stretford Public Hall for two days of<br />

panels, worksh<strong>op</strong>s, local DJs, and food.<br />

stirtoaction.com/festival<br />

UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

June (date and location TBC)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress brings together those<br />

working to build a fairer economy to share<br />

ideas, get inspiration and take action.<br />

Details TBC<br />

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

1 July<br />

ICA CCR Global and Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Research <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

10-13 July (Leuven Belgium)<br />

The overall theme of the <strong>2023</strong> conference<br />

is ‘Governing co<strong>op</strong>erative innovation’ and<br />

will bring together academia, researchers,<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>erative practitioners from all<br />

over the world, as well as policy-makers<br />

at the EU and international level, to<br />

discuss the latest research and policy<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments in the area of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

governance. The event is hosted by<br />

the Centre of Expertise for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Entrepreneurship (KCO KU Leuven), a<br />

research and teaching centre.<br />

info@icaccr<strong>2023</strong>.com<br />

<strong>2023</strong> World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

23-26 July (Vancouver, Canada)<br />

The global credit union education and<br />

networking event offered by the financial<br />

services industry is returning to Canada.<br />

Organised by the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit<br />

Unions and the Canadian Credit Union<br />

Association (CCUA), the event will hear<br />

from global industry experts on a variety<br />

of t<strong>op</strong>ics. The educational programme<br />

includes breakout sessions, worksh<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

keynote sessions and a Solution Center<br />

geared towards solving today’s challenges.<br />

wcuc.org<br />

Practitioners Forum<br />

23 November (Manchester)<br />

One of the leading training and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment events for pe<strong>op</strong>le working<br />

in co-<strong>op</strong>erative businesses – big and<br />

small – Practitioners Forum is an annual<br />

sell-out. It hosts around 20 covering<br />

membership, governance, finance, HR<br />

and communications.<br />

Details TBC<br />

50 | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

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