Tag Archives: co-operatives

Be more Hebden Bridge!

A conference taking place in Birmingham (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd February) is to look at ways to make more places like Hebden Bridge!

Future Co-ops 2019 logo

Future Co-ops 2019 will address how the co-operative sector can grow and has found that Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire has almost 50 times more independent co-operatives per head of population than Hull, only 80 miles away.

As independent, democratically-owned and controlled businesses, co-operatives often tackle some of the most important issues in a locality such as employment, access to healthy foods and care issues. But the establishment of these businesses is very sporadic and Future Co-ops 2019 will explore new, practical actions to help co-op deserts bloom!

While Hebden Bridge has been identified, in this study, as being one of the top English towns in terms of number of co-operatives per inhabitant, a number of other towns and cities have a significant density of co-ops too.

University cities, especially those with a tradition of social innovation, seem to display a higher density of co-operatives with Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton and Manchester all scoring relatively well.

After Hebden Bridge, Totnes in Devon has been identified by Co-operative Futures as another strong example of an English ‘co-operative town’, although Hebden Bridge still has twice the number of co-operatives per head as Totnes.

According to Jo White of Co-operative Futures, the organisers of the event, co-operatives can be found right across the UK, but their distribution is very uneven.

“Our figures give an insight into the uneven distribution of co-ops. There are brilliant co-operatives across the country, and we all want to see them replicated. Future Co-ops 2019 gives delegates the opportunity to learn from Central England Co-operative’s Think Digital team some innovative, engaging and effective techniques in generating solutions to problems. We’ll be applying those techniques to the conference’s central theme – how to make co-operative deserts bloom and turn everywhere into Hebden Bridge. Only with less rain. Join us for fun, challenge, learning and great networking!”

Find out more: https://futures.coop/future-coops-2019

Future Co-ops Conference 2019

A conference that takes place at the beginning of February will be addressing the issue of co-operative deserts and how new co-ops can be helped to bloom.

Future Co-ops 2019 logo

Future Co-ops 2019 will address how the co-operative sector can grow.

Not everywhere is created equal. There are some well-known pockets of success in the UK where co-ops flourish – big cities, small towns, north and south. But there are plenty of co-op deserts too.

We’re all agreed we want more co-ops, better co-ops and, sometimes, bigger co-ops. Particularly in co-op deserts. But no fairy godmother’s going to wave a magic wand, so what do we, as a diverse sector, do with what we’ve got?

Join Co-operative Futures in Birmingham on the 1st and 2nd February 2019, where they’ll be working with Central England Co-operative’s talented Think:Digital innovation team, using their new insights and participatory problem solving techniques in a fun and effective way to explore new, practical actions we can all take away to help co-op deserts bloom!

According to Jo White of Co-operative Futures, the organisers of the event, co-operatives can be found right across the UK but their distribution is uneven.

“Future Co-ops 2019 will focus on why these geographic imbalances exist and how we can all help create the right environment to make new co-operatives flourish.”

Where: Hillscourt Hotel & Venue in Birmingham

Info: https://futures.coop/future-coops-2019

Global credit union movement surpasses 260 million

The World Council of Credit Unions has released its latest report, which shows the continued growth of credit union membership around the world, surpassing 260 million members in 117 countries. This is an increase from its 2016 report, which showed membership of 235 million members in 109 countries.

WOCCU logoThe most notable changes from the end of 2013 to 2017 are 12 million new members in the US, 11 million each in Latin America and Africa, 7 million in Asia and one million in Europe.

“This year we can celebrate as a global community. We have realized our vision of reaching 250 million members by the year 2020,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “We see that membership growth continues to reflect the important role that credit unions have in providing economic empowerment to people worldwide.

“The three primary challenges we hear from credit unions everywhere are advocacy, disruptive technology and membership growth. For 2019, we will launch the logical next step and take on the second global challenge, which is disruptive technology. We are gearing our efforts toward digitization, including access to core services by online and mobile channels, automation of internal processes and connection to local payments and electronic ecosystems. If we want to continue growing and competing in tomorrow’s disruptive markets, we take on this challenge, make it our own and market the advantage to serve the under-served.”

The World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. It promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.

World Council reports data based on country responses to its annual survey and does not make estimates for non-reporting countries. The Statistical Report provides the most comprehensive data on the global credit union movement available and is cited widely by governments, international institutions and analysts as an expert resource.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 89,026 credit unions in 117 countries serve 260 million people. Learn more about World Council’s impact around the world at www.woccu.org.

Phone Co-op members vote for Transfer of Engagements to Midcounties Co-operative

Members of The Phone Co-op, the UK’s only telecoms co-operative, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of their Board’s recommendation for a transfer of engagements to The Midcounties Co-operative.

Phone Co-op logo91% of members attending The Phone        Co-op’s Special General Meeting in Sheffield on 28 April voted for a merger with Midcounties. 223 votes were cast by delegates attending in person and online, with 202 voting in favour of the motion and 17 against.

The transfer of engagements was confirmed at a second Special General Meeting in Droitwich on 12 May, where it was passed by 75 votes out of 76. The transfer is due to take place on          1 June.

Jane Watts, chair of The Phone Co-op said: “I am delighted that The Phone Co-op’s members have voted to join Midcounties Co-operative. This move will make sure that we have a              co-operative provider of telecoms, as it becomes ever more central to our lives, and extends the offer we can make to our members.

“Our co-operative and ethical values will continue to be central to the service and our staff will contribute their expertise and shared values as we move forward.”

Ben Reid, CEO of Midcounties Co-operative, welcomed the result of the vote which he described as, “…an opportunity to bring together two strong businesses [The Phone Co-op and Co-op Energy, part of Midcounties Co-operative] to create a co-operative utility provider.”

In a separate motion, members attending the Sheffield AGM of The Phone Co-op voted by a simple majority to approve The Phone Co-op’s Strategy for 2018-2022. 136 members voted for the motion, with 50 voting against and 37 abstaining.

The second Special General Meeting was held at Chateau Impney Hotel and Exhibition Centre in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The meeting followed the Midcounties Co-operative AGM which was being held at the same venue earlier in the day.

Post Carbon Co-ops – opportunities out of crises?

Post Carbon Co-ops logoA conference that takes place in the New Year will be addressing the post carbon landscape from a co-operative perspective.

The current energy bonanza based on fossil fuels cannot go on forever. Climate change reasons apart, fossil fuels are not inexhaustible. New extraction methods such as fracking promise false hope and renewables can never recreate the massive energy surplus that oil, coal and gas have provided.

The conference entitled Post Carbon Co-ops aims to bring co-operative activists together with activists from other progressive organisations to debate some of the key issues facing our future.

The post carbon landscape will impact on all areas of everyone’s lives, from access to food and transport, to energy and manufacturing. Post Carbon Co-ops will examine how co-ops can provide solutions.

Dr Mark Simmonds from Co-op Culture, who is one of the keynote speakers at the Future Co-ops conference, said: “In these times of economic uncertainty, resource depletion and climate change, the one thing we can be sure of is that the world will become a very different place in the short to medium term.

“Energy descent, in particular, will increasingly become a fact of life. We need to think strategically about the co-operative response to this challenge. How can communities co-operate to build resilience? What does a post-carbon co-operative economy that can survive and thrive, look like?”

According to Jo White of Co-operative Futures, the organisers of the event, co-operatives have led the way in offering solutions to emerging crises and the co-ops of the future need to start planning for the post carbon landscape.

“We are looking forward to welcoming a wide range of activists to Post Carbon Co-ops in February and we are hoping to move the debate forward on positive co-operative solutions for a low carbon future.”

Post Carbon Co-ops takes place on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th February 2017 at Jurys Inn in Cheltenham and delegates can book their place at early bird prices online now.

Co-operative Group Emergency Motion

Members of the Co-operative Group are seeking support for an emergency motion to be discussed at the Co-operative Group Annual General Meeting on Saturday 16 May.

The emergency motion calls on the Co-operative Group to reinstate three candidates for election to the Member Nominated Director Board seats and for the election to be re-run within six months. It calls for an additional Member Nominated Director position to be created and for the Society to undertake a full process of engagement with members, the Party and the wider co-operative movement.

The Co-operative Group emergency motion in full is as follows:

As members and owners of the Co-operative Group, this AGM reaffirms the Group’s commitment to internal democracy as a distinguishing feature of co-operative enterprises. This AGM recognises that the new ‘one member, one vote’ constitution is being tested for the first time at this AGM, and that it is vital to our success as a co-operative business that the new rules have the confidence of members.

This AGM notes with particular concern that the National Member’s Council on the 11th April voted to make three specific requests to the Board and asked the Board to fulfil commitments made during the Governance Review process in 2014. This AGM further notes, with particular concern, that the Council’s requests have not been responded to or acted upon by the Board.

Recognising all of the above, and in accordance with the views of the National Members Council, confirmed in its votes on 11 April, this AGM decides:

a) To withdraw the current ballot for Member Nominated Directors and to re-run the elections for the Member Nominated Director Board seats, within six months, with the reinstatement of the three candidates who were eliminated from the final shortlist. This would give members a choice of six candidates for the Member-Nominated Board seats.

b) To create an additional Member Nominated Director position, so that there will be four Member Nominated Directors, and to re-run the elections for the Member Nominated Director Board seats on this basis, within six months.

c) To delete Motion 9 from this AGM Agenda as requested by the Council and instruct the Society to undertake a full process of engagement with members, the Party and the wider co-operative movement.

Members and non-members of the Co-operative Group are invited to sign the emergency motion by going to: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1BPfvypRSS0t-ajekoHa6Yh7FH-LZh6_mtmbvnxln8Ng/viewform

More information about the background to the emergency motion can be found in this article, published recently in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/may/03/co-op-group-boardroom-shakeup-could-be-halted-emergency-motion

Celebrating International Credit Union Day

International Credit Union DayThursday 17 October is International Credit Union Day and credit unions around the world, with 200 million members in over 100 countries, are celebrating.

This year’s theme is Unite for Good – a better way, which emphasises the benefits of co-operation among credit unions worldwide.

In Britain, some of the things that have been happening include:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury sent his first Instagram message to urge people to use credit unions
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband announced plans to support credit unions through a levy on the payday loans industry
  • The Scottish Parliament held a reception for  credit unions, partner organisations and MSPs from across Scotland
  • Bishops around the country showed their support for credit unions with 39 Bishops in 29 dioceses involved in the day and over 50 credit unions being supported.

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of ABCUL – the Association of British Credit Unions, said: “We very much welcome the widespread support for credit unions on International Credit Union Day. People ‘Uniting for Good’ in communities and workplaces around the country means that fair and affordable financial services are becoming much more widely available through credit unions.

“It is appropriate today to thank the thousands of volunteers and staff in nearly 400 credit unions around the country who are committed to providing great value financial services. They are not driven by profit, but by the desire to meet the needs of their neighbours and colleagues.”

Credit unions in Britain look after over £1 billion in assets on behalf of over 1 million people.

Official opening of new Third Sector First centre in Dumfries

Third Sector First is officially openingThird Sector First logo its brand new centre in Dumfries on Friday 27 September, providing a unique space for charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and individual volunteers to work and meet.

The centre at 16 Queensberry Street will give voluntary and community organisations across Dumfries and Galloway a modern office location in which they can meet and network with other similar organisations. Within ground floor premises, the new centre has a high profile shop front and excellent provision for disabled access.

Third Sector First is funded by the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council to support and develop a strong third sector. The third sector is made up of organisations that have a social purpose and exist to improve the lives of people and communities. This includes community groups, charities, social enterprises and cooperatives and everyone who works or volunteers for them.

Across Dumfries and Galloway there are literally thousands of people working or volunteering for third sector organisations. Until now these organisations haven’t had as strong a voice as they should and Third Sector First is all about changing that.

Third Sector First is holding an Open Day at its brand new centre and all are welcome to come along.

When: Friday 27 September, 10am – 3pm
Where: Third Sector First, 16 Queensberry Street, Dumfries DG1 1EX