Wales Co-operative Centre

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Closing the Jaws of Doom: co-operative approaches to public service delivery

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The “Jaws of Doom” describes the shape you see if you plot a graph showing increasing demand for public services (driven by an ageing population) and reducing public sector resources to meet that need.  It’s this tension that is driving severe cuts in some areas and market commercialisation in other parts of the UK.

That was the background to today’s “Reshaping Services with the Public” conference held by the Wales Audit Office in collaboration with partners including the Wales Co-operative Centre.  The conference was about changing the relationship between those who deliver and people who use services.

The premise is that too many public services are still delivered from the perspective of single service deliverers. The leads to citizens experiencing multiple, fragmented approaches that can result in contradictory and conflicting interventions, poor outcomes for the service user, waste of valuable resources and poor value for money.

An example of a 'jaws of doom' graph

An example of a ‘jaws of doom’ graph

Keynote speaker Professor Tony Bovaird from Birmingham University argued for a radical change in the way we co-commission, co-design, co-deliver and co-assess public services.  We need to centre services on the user, gain their consent and harness their time and the time of others in the community to complement resources paid for from public money.

This sounds a lot like a co-operative model to us.  The Wales Co-operative Centre supports co-operatives and social businesses, and that includes assisting local councils who are considering externalising services to new social businesses.  We help ensure that the perspectives of service users and staff are hard-wired into the governance structures of new enterprises.  We support business plans that stack up financially but are driven by the needs of service users and by broader social good.  This is in sharp contrast to privatisation approaches, where service users can be objectified, and ineffective delivery models can be contractually perpetuated.

And at the Wales Co-operative Centre we try to practice what we preach.  We deliver the Wales Government’s Communities 2.0 digital inclusion programme, and the volunteering model used is a lovely model of co-delivery.  The people the programme helps can themselves become volunteers and influence what the programme delivers.  Not only does this mean value for money but it ensures that the programme stays fresh and relevant to the needs of people who are digitally excluded.

Today’s conference marks the beginning of a long journey for public services in Wales.  If we keep with us co-operative values and explore co-operative models of service delivery, we would be well on our way.

Written by Dave Brown

July 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Riders of the Storm

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This month, an Oxfam report revealed Wales as one of the places worst hit by a ‘perfect storm’ of hunger and poverty. In a guest blog post for the Wales Co-operative Centre, Kirsty Davies, Head of Oxfam Cymru, asks what can be done to tackle rising poverty in Wales.

Food bank use in Wales is disproportionately high, according to Below the Breadline, produced by Oxfam, with Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust. The Trust gave out three days’ food to 79,000 people for a population of just three million last year, compared to 71,000 in Scotland with a population of over five million.

Benefit cuts, sanctions, low wages and insecure jobs are all driving people to rely on hand-outs to survive. We know Wales tops the tables for low earnings and benefit claims, with 25% of Welsh workers earning less than the Living Wage and 19% of working age people claiming benefits.

These are the stark statistics. The reality on the ground is that thousands more Welsh families have joined the ranks of the ‘precariat’ – people constantly living on the brink of financial disaster, where a broken fridge or a child’s birthday provokes a crisis that leaves the door open to local and corporate loan sharks.

What can be done? The Welsh Government has blunted the impact of some social security reforms, such as keeping up the Council Tax Reduction Scheme after the abolition of Council Tax Benefit and replacing the abolished parts of the Social Fund with the Discretionary Assistance Fund.

At UK level, we are calling on the Government to urgently draw up an action plan to reverse the rising tide of food poverty and to collect evidence to understand the scale and causes of heavy food bank usage. We also want all parties to sign up to protecting the principle of a proper safety net as a core purpose of the social security system.

Work at a FareShare North Wales depot, that helps people who are vulnerable to food hardship

Work at a FareShare North Wales depot, that helps people who are vulnerable to food hardship

Action in communities is just as vital to help people take control of their own lives. Our own Livelihoods projects across Wales encourage vulnerable groups to build up their resilience and self esteem to cope better with whatever life throws at them. The work of Credit Unions, including Credit Union Rent Accounts has never been so important in spreading financial education and managing debt.

We know only too well from our projects that people can react to a money crisis by taking out a pay day loan and soon getting up to their ears in debt through towering interest rates. Such loans can seem the simplest and quickest way out when you are up against it. Build up people’s confidence and widen their knowledge of their options and you can stop them taking this often disastrous step.

In the longer term, we need jobs in Wales with decent pay, not more temporary work and zero hours contracts. Alongside conventional investment and enterprise, we must release the potential for community co-operatives and social enterprises to boost local jobs and help keep money where people live. That is why Oxfam Cymru is part of the campaign for a meaningful Future Generations Bill that will pave the way for a prosperous and sustainable Wales.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

June 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Arweiniad rhagorol Kelly yn cael ei gydnabod mewn seremoni wobrwyo

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Heddiw, cyhoeddwyd enillwyr Gwobrau Arwain Cymru eleni mewn seremoni wobrwyo fawreddog yng ngwesty’r Hilton Caerdydd.

A ninnau’n noddwr y Categori i Fentrau Cymdeithasol, mewn partneriaeth â Cwmnïau Cymdeithasol Cymru, mae Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru yn cydnabod bod arweiniad cryf, gweledigaethol yn yrrwr allweddol yn nhwf a chynaliadwyedd mentrau cymdeithasol a’i fod yn cael effaith fawr ar eu cyfraniad i economi Cymru.

Mae’r gwobrau, sy’n dathlu eu 10fed pen-blwydd, wedi’u hen sefydlu, yn uchel eu proffil ac ar gyfer Cymru gyfan. Yn yr hinsawdd economaidd heriol sydd ohoni, mae’n bwysicach byth chwilio am y bobl hynny y mae eu harweiniad yn gwneud effaith wirioneddol, a chydnabod y bobl hynny.

Ychydig wythnosau yn ôl roedd yn fraint i mi fod ar y panel beirniadu ar gyfer y categori i Fentrau Cymdeithasol, ochr yn ochr â Ben Cottam, Pennaeth ACCA Cymru, Vina Patel, Ymgynghorydd Llywodraethu Cymdeithasol a Chorfforaethol gyda Cwmnïau Cymdeithasol Cymru, a Robert Chapman, Cyfarwyddwr Robert Chapman & Company.

Roeddem yn chwilio am enillydd y mae ei arweiniad yn gwneud gwahaniaeth gwirioneddol i fenter gymdeithasol yng Nghymru, gan effeithio’n bositif ar symud ei gymuned neu’i fusnes ymlaen. Roeddem yn awyddus i ddewis rhywun a oedd nid yn unig yn ysbrydoli ei dîm, ond hefyd a allai fod yn fodel rôl ar gyfer y sector.

Dewisodd y panel Kelly Davies yn enillydd y categori i Fentrau Cymdeithasol, sef y grym y tu ôl i Vi-Ability. Gweledigaeth Kelly pan sefydlodd Vi-Ability bum mlynedd yn ôl oedd i bob cymuned gael clwb pêl-droed a oedd yn ffynnu ac yn sefydlog yn ariannol wrth ei gwraidd, gan roi cyfleoedd i bobl ifanc ddatblygu sgiliau ac ehangu eu gorwelion. Yn ei hanfod, gwelodd Kelly gyfle i ddefnyddio pêl-droed yn fodd o ymgysylltu â phobl ifanc a chynnig iddynt hyfforddiant, lleoliadau gwaith, cyfleoedd gwirfoddoli a phrentisiaethau. Ar yr un pryd, trwy ddefnyddio sgiliau a brwdfrydedd y bobl ifanc hyn, daeth y clybiau eu hunain yn fwy cryf ac yn fwy cynaliadwy.

kelly davies lwa pic

Mae Vi-Ability wedi cael effaith nodedig. Mae 879 o bobl ifanc wedi elwa ar y rhaglen addysgol graidd ddeg wythnos, mae 88% ohonynt wedi mynd ymlaen i sicrhau cyflogaeth amser llawn. Fodd bynnag, yr hyn a sicrhaodd fod Kelly ar y blaen yng Ngwobrau Arwain Cymru oedd er ei bod yn amlwg wedi dod o hyd i gynllun sy’n gweithio’n llwyddiannus, nid yw’n fodlon â’r sefyllfa fel y mae ac mae’n edrych am ffyrdd o ehangu’r sefydliad. Ar ôl dechrau yng Ngogledd Cymru, mae Vi-Ability eisoes wedi ehangu i dde Cymru, Lloegr, yr Eidal, Sweden, yr Almaen, yr Iseldiroedd a Sbaen. Yn ddiweddar mae wedi datblygu’r model i gynnwys chwaraeon eraill – hoci, criced, nofio a thenis – ac mae newydd ddychwelyd o daith i India i archwilio’r posibilrwydd o ddyblygu’r model yno fel masnachfraint gymdeithasol. Hyd yn oed yn fwy cyffrous, mae Vi-Ability wedi sicrhau buddsoddiad i ddatblygu gêm ‘Football CEO’ i’w lansio ar-lein ac mae hefyd yn datblygu uned ailgylchu chwaraeon – bydd y ddau beth hyn yn creu ffrydiau incwm newydd nad ydynt o dan gyfyngiadau a fydd yn cael eu hail-fuddsoddi yn y busnes i greu effaith gymdeithasol hyd yn oed yn fwy yn y dyfodol.

A ninnau’n feirniaid, cawsom argraff dda iawn o benderfyniad Kelly i ehangu a datblygu’r sefydliad yn barhaus, nid yn unig er mwyn creu’r sefydliad, ond fel modd o gyrraedd mwy a mwy o bobl ifanc ac ehangu effaith cenhadaeth gymdeithasol Vi-Ability.

Mae arweinwyr Mentrau Cymdeithasol fel Kelly yn hanfodol bwysig i’r sector. Maent yn ysgogi sefydliadau, yn eu symbylu i dyfu ac yn creu newid cymdeithasol cadarnhaol ac iddo effaith fawr.

Written by cathewalescoop

June 5, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Posted in social enterprise

Kelly’s brilliant leadership recognised at awards ceremony

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Today, the winners of this year’s Leading Wales Awards have been announced at a prestigious ceremony at Cardiff’s Hilton hotel.

As sponsor of the Social Enterprise Category, in partnership with Social Firms Wales, the Wales Co-operative Centre recognises that strong, visionary leadership is a key driver in the growth and sustainability of social enterprises and has a major impact on their contribution to the Welsh economy.

Celebrating their 10th year, the Awards are well established, high profile and truly pan-Wales. In the current challenging economic climate, it is even more important to seek out and identify all those people whose leadership is making a real difference.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be on the judging panel for the Social Enterprise category, alongside Ben Cottam, Head of ACCA Cymru Wales, Vina Patel, Social and Corporate Governance Advisor at Social Firms Wales, and Robert Chapman, Director of Robert Chapman & Company.

We were looking for a winner whose leadership is making a real difference to social enterprise in Wales, impacting positively on driving forward their community or business. We wanted to choose someone who not only provided inspiration to their team, but who could also be a role model for the sector.

The panel chose Kelly Davies as winner of the Social Enterprise category, the driving force behind Vi-Ability. Kelly’s vision when she founded Vi-Ability five years ago was for every community to have a thriving and financially stable football club at its heart, providing opportunities for young people to develop skills and broaden their horizons. In essence, Kelly saw an opportunity to use football as a way to engage with young people and offer them training, work placements, volunteering opportunities and apprenticeships. At the same time, by utilising the skills and enthusiasm of these young people, the clubs themselves became stronger and more sustainable.

Kelly Davies with her award at today's ceremony.

Kelly Davies with her award at today’s ceremony.

Vi-Ability has had an impressive impact. 879 young people have benefitted from the core ten-week educational programme, 88% of whom have gone on to secure full-time employment. However, what gave Kelly the edge in the Leading Wales Awards was that even though she has clearly found a winning formula, she is not content with the status quo and is looking for ways to expand the organisation. Having begun in North Wales, Vi-Ability has already expanded into south Wales, England, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Holland and Spain. She has recently developed the model to include other sports – hockey, cricket, swimming and tennis – and has just returned from a trip to India to explore the possibility of replicating the model there as a social franchise. More excitingly, Vi-Ability has secured investment to develop a ‘Football CEO’ game to launch online and is also developing a sports recycling unit – both of which will create new and unrestricted income streams which will be reinvested in the business to create even greater social impact in the future.

As judges, we were impressed with Kelly’s determination to continuously expand and develop the organisation, not simply as an end in itself, but as a means of reaching out to more and more young people and widening the impact of Vi-Ability’s social mission.

Social Enterprise leaders like Kelly are vitally important to the sector. They galvanise organisations, stimulating them to grow and bringing about positive, high impact social change. This was backed up, when people from social enterprises won in two other categories at the ceremony. Alan Gray of Monwel Ltd took the Team Leader prize, while Adrian Morgan of Cornelly and District Development Trust won the ‘Leadership for the future’ category.

Written by cathewalescoop

June 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Posted in social enterprise

Categori ieuenctid newydd ar gyfer Gwobrau Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru 2014

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Nid yw’n ymddangos mor bell yn ôl â hynny ers y seremoni fawreddog yn Stadiwm SWALEC yng Nghaerdydd i gydnabod llwyddiannau ffigurau blaenllaw’r sector mentrau cymdeithasol yng Nghymru. Fis Hydref llynedd daethom at ein gilydd ar gyfer seremoni Gwobrau Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru 2013 ac erbyn hyn mae’n bryd lansio gwobrau 2014!

Mae’r enwebiadau bellach ar agor ar gyfer Gwobrau Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru… gydag un ychwanegiad newydd cyffrous. Yn ogystal â ‘Menter Gymdeithasol y Flwyddyn’, ‘Seren y Dyfodol’, ‘Prynu’n Gymdeithasol’ (a elwid gynt yn Wobr Menter Datblygu’r Farchnad’)  a’r Pencampwr Mentrau Cymdeithasol, mae’n bleser gennym gadarnhau’r categori ‘Ysbrydoli Menter Ieuenctid’ ar gyfer 2014. Bydd y categori newydd hwn yn agored i rai rhwng 8 a 24 oed. Print

Rydym yn aml yn clywed sôn am y genhedlaeth nesaf o entrepreneuriaid ym meysydd eraill busnes. Bydd y categori newydd hwn yn helpu i amlygu talent ifanc sy’n bodoli yn y sector mentrau cymdeithasol yng Nghymru. Bydd llawer ohonynt wedi cael eu hysbrydoli gan y nifer cynyddol o fusnesau cymdeithasol ac rydym yn debygol o weld rhagor o entrepreneuriaid cymdeithasol ifanc yn dod i’r amlwg yn ystod y blynyddoedd nesaf. Lluniwyd y categori ‘Ysbrydoli Menter Ieuenctid’ i annog rhagor o blant a phobl ifanc yng Nghymru i feddwl am opsiynau cymdeithasol a moesegol, wrth ystyried opsiynau busnes y dyfodol neu lwybrau gyrfa.

Cawsom ymateb ffantastig i’r gwobrau llynedd. Nid yn unig yr oedd nifer y ceisiadau wedi cynyddu, ond roedd yr ansawdd hefyd wedi parhau i gynyddu. Roedd PS Services, sef menter gymdeithasol yr elusen iechyd meddwl Gofal, wedi mynd i ymlaen i gael llwyddiant yn y DU hefyd trwy ennill y categori Seren y Dyfodol yng Ngwobrau Mentrau Cymdeithasol y DU yn ogystal â gwobrau Cymru. Enillodd PS Services y wobr am ei busnes glanhau a chynnal a chadw tir, a sefydlwyd er mwyn darparu cyflogaeth gefnogol i unigolion sy’n agored i niwed sy’n awyddus i ddychwelyd i’r farchnad lafur.

Rydym yn edrych ymlaen at dderbyn eich ceisiadau ar gyfer y gwobrau eleni. Gallwch enwebu eich hun neu enwebu rhywun arall. Rhaid cyflwyno’r enwebiadau erbyn dydd Gwener 11 Gorffennaf. Pob lwc!

Written by derekwalker72

May 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

New youth category for Social Enterprise Awards Wales 2014

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It doesn’t seem long since the glitzy ceremony at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff to recognise the achievements of the leading figures in the Welsh social enterprise sector. It was last October when we got together for the 2013 Social Enterprise Wales Awards ceremony and now it’s time to launch the 2014 awards!

Nominations are now open for this year’s Social Enterprise Awards Wales….with one exciting new addition. Along with ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’, ‘One to Watch’, ‘Buy Social’ (previously known as the Market-builder award) and Social Enterprise Champion, we’re pleased to confirm the ‘Inspiring Youth Enterprise’ category for 2014. This new category will be open to 8-24 year olds. Print

Often we hear people talk about the next generation of entrepreneurs in other areas of business. This new category will help to highlight the young talent that exists in the social enterprise sector in Wales. Many of them will have been inspired by the growing number of social businesses and we are likely to see more young social entrepreneurs coming through in the years ahead. The ‘Inspiring Youth Enterprise’ category is designed to encourage more children and young people in Wales to think of social and ethical options, when they consider future business options or career pathways.

We had a fantastic response to the awards last year. Not only did the number of entries increase, but the quality continued to rise too. PS Services, the social business of mental health charity Gofal, went on to UK success, by picking up the One to Watch category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards as well as the Wales awards. PS Services was awarded the title for its cleaning and grounds maintenance business, which was established to provide supportive employment to vulnerable individuals seeking to return to the labour market.

We’re looking forward to receiving your entries for this year’s awards. You can self-nominate or put someone else forward. Nominations need to be submitted by Friday 11th July. Good luck!

Written by derekwalker72

May 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

‘Deep Place Study’ views co-ops and social enterprises as key to tackling poverty in Wales

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Last month, the Centre for Regeneration Excellence in Wales (CREW) published a report that looks at how poverty could be tackled through sustainability in Welsh communities.

The ‘Deep Place Study’ focused on Tredegar, which was held up as a typical example of a town facing numerous challenges in post-industrial Wales. The report looked at weaknesses that limit the town’s ability to grow economically, as well as opportunities that could be exploited over the next 10-15 years. By basing the report around one town, its authors hope it will enable decision makers, at all levels, to realise how a similar approach could be taken in other locations in Wales.

I recently met with Professor Dave Adamson and Dr Mark Lang, of CREW, who led the ‘Deep Place Study’, as I’d noted the number of recommendations or ‘actions’, as listed in the report, that suggest the potential for co-operative solutions to many of the problems identified in Tredegar. Across key themes such as energy, housing, education and social care, there are recommendations to set up new co-operatives and social enterprises to develop and deliver services, or to transfer existing services into the hands of such organisations and businesses.

Taking renewable energy as a leading example, Professor Adamson told me that ‘there is huge potential for job creation around a low-carbon economy’, citing Germany’s approach where 380,000 jobs have been created in the sector in recent years. He also highlighted the ways in which co-operative approaches are taken in the care system in Italy (Bologna) and Canada (Quebec), ways that he feels could be replicated in Wales – retaining local ownership, providing local jobs and keeping investment within the local economy.

Dr Lang gave me his thoughts on energy and food, another key part of the report, “We need a radical rethink on local food production. Look at the New Forest Economy Initiative, around willow cropping and large-scale green-housing”. He went on to tell me that there are opportunities for larger scale social enterprises to be providing local food supplies in Welsh communities, holding up the work of similar organisations in Cleveland, Ohio.

The pair are under no illusion as to the barriers facing them, as they seek support to realise the report’s actions. They’re seeking policy change in order for resources to be made available in the coming years, viewing the study as a ‘long-term report’. Dr Lang summed their future hopes up, by saying ‘When the funding environment is less hostile, when we can invest in Welsh communities again, we all need to consider models that can create community sustainability”.

You can listen to my interview with Dave Adamson and Mark Lang on SoundCloud.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

May 19, 2014 at 10:02 am

Reflecting on the last 12 months – part 2

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Earlier in the week, Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, started to look back on the last financial year and the work we had been involved with. We continue Derek’s review, by looking at how the Centre supports some of the most disadvantaged people and communities…

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, with Tracy Olin of PATCH

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, with Tracy Olin of PATCH

The work of the Centre is closely aligned with the wider tackling poverty agenda. In October we instigated an online campaign ‘Tackling Poverty Fortnight’ that not only received recognition in the Senedd, but demonstrated ways in which social enterprises and co-operative ways of working are supporting people in Wales’ most disadvantaged areas.

Our financial inclusion work continues to have an influence and impact in this area, particularly through our Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion project. That team has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and increase the uptake of Credit Union Rent Accounts, which can help housing tenants, across private, social and council housing, to maintain their tenancies in the face of sweeping Welfare Reforms. This work benefits from close work relationships with housing providers and other partners. More recently, I did my own bit to raise awareness of the issues facing homeless people, in the inaugural Cardiff CEO Sleepout. That event reminded me of the value of our work, with those that need the greatest support.

The latest evaluation of our Social Enterprise Support Project was positive, including lines such as “satisfaction levels with Development Officers support is very high – ‘extremely’ or ‘very satisfied’ at 87%”. In this area of work, we also delivered another successful Social Enterprise Wales Conference and Awards and the new ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign that increased awareness raising of Welsh social enterprises among the general public. Last summer, Cardiff played host to the annual Co-operatives UK Congress that saw more than 300 co-operators come together, to debate issues that matter most to those in the sector.

Our Corporate Services have continued to strengthen the Centre’s corporate governance, financial processes, HR and ICT infrastructure – all vital work, while the Marketing team re-structure is providing a more effective approach to the way we promote our services and raising awareness of our work, that of our clients and the wider sector.

The last financial year also saw us intensify international links, with staff making trips to Africa, to support community enterprises, and participating in an exchange with representatives of the social enterprise sector in the Czech Republic. It is important to be involved with such activities, so we can promote the best of what Wales has to offer in terms of co-operative and social enterprise development, on the world stage, and so we can learn from best practice approaches in other countries.

Greeted by schoolchildren in Lesotho, where we supported community enterprises last year.

Greeted by schoolchildren in Lesotho, where we supported community enterprises last year.

While there is a rich diversity to our work, with many seemingly independent activities, one thing binds it together – a co-operative ethos that sees projects, initiatives, organisations, businesses and individuals getting more from working together. It’s at the heart of everything we do.

When you think about it, that’s some year…..and we haven’t covered everything in this blog post!

As we look ahead to the next twelve months, we know there are challenges ahead but we can meet them head on, with confidence. That confidence comes from the knowledge that we are a strong organisation, with experienced and innovative staff, that make a difference in communities around Wales every day of the week.

Reflecting on the last 12 months – part 1

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With the new financial year barely a week old, Derek Walker, our Chief Executive, has taken the opportunity to look back on the last twelve months at the Wales Co-operative Centre….

Derek Walker

Derek Walker

I was recently looking through the posts on our blog site from the last twelve months. I was struck by the realisation that we have covered an awful lot of ground as an organisation. In addition, the scale of our output is matched by the quality and impact of our work.

It’s a healthy thing to look back at what has gone before, as you can learn from experience and take confidence from what has gone well. Another thing that occurred to me was the rich diversity of our work.

Since the start of the last financial year, some new clients have emerged. To highlight just a few – AFS in Swansea, where former Remploy staff came together to form a worker co-operative that has already proven successful. The Cambrian Village Trust social enterprise, in Clydach Vale, was supported to open a new, world class, all-weather football pitch. PS Services, a social business run by mental health charity Gofal, won the ‘One to Watch’ category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards. Many other businesses that we’ve supported have gone from strength to strength, showing that co-operatives and social enterprises are models for growth, as well as sustainability.

Elsewhere in the Centre, we’ve received additional funding from Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund to expand the area covered by Communities 2.0, to now help people in the most deprived parts of Cardiff, Newport, Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire make the most of computers and the Internet. Communities 2.0 has also seen a number of county-wide initiatives launch in the last year, heavily based on strong partnership work – bringing the people and organisations together than can make a real difference.

Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd

Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd

Our co-operative housing project has been extended for another two years. More groups around Wales are talking to us, and our partners, about the potential to develop co-operative housing schemes in their community, giving people more direct control over their living arrangements.

The year’s watershed moment came with the publication of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission report. Led by Professor Andrew Davies, the Commission has concluded that “conventional approaches to economic growth and development are not sufficient alone to achieve the improvement in the social and economic wellbeing of people in Wales”, adding “co-operatives and mutuals offer significant economic, social and environmental benefits compared with ordinary businesses. Their development must be central to transforming Wales’ economic fortunes”. These words come as a clarion call to those involved in the co-operatives and mutuals sector, as well as those on the fringes who have yet to realise the full potential of co-operative approaches to economic development. The report’s recommendations are currently being discussed at a series of consultation events and it will be interesting to hear how others think they should be taken forward. The report’s recommendations have the Centre’s full support.

Join us for the second part of this blog post, later in the week…

Winning Public Sector Work is Key for Third Sector Sustainability

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Rhian Edwards

Today the Wales Co-operative Centre supported the WCVA in hosting a mini-conference for the third sector on How to Win Tenders. Here, Rhian Edwards, Project Manager for Business Succession and Consortia, looks at the importance of public sector contracts for the Third Sector.

“The public sector in Wales spends around £4.3bn each year through procurement, and winning business with the public sector is crucial for the financial sustainability of many third sector organisations in Wales. Many actually have long standing relationships with these public sector bodies, and have been delivering valued services under grant arrangements, service level agreements, and spot contracts for many years.

“The shift now however to a more competitive tendering environment has been a hard transition for many of these organisations. Contracts are being wrapped up into bigger, more complex lots, and the move towards move collaborative and regionalised tendering is making access to opportunities even harder. Smaller third sector organisations particularly are feeling the strain, feeling very alienated from these opportunities.

“The event today offered practical advice and guidance on how best to win work with public sector bodies. Attendees heard what public sector buyers look for in tenders, had a procurement policy update from Value Wales, and heard the experiences of third sector organisations that have been successful and unsuccessful in winning public sector work. There was also a range of workshops available looking at key issues such as collaborating to win work, effective pitch presentation and contract management.

“Public sector bodies are increasingly looking to engage with the third sector in the delivery of innovative, citizen centred services. However, many third sector organisations feel the procurement processes used by these bodies is a major barrier to them winning this work. The Wales Co-operative Centre and WCVA are working closely with both the supply and the buy side to help overcome these challenges. In October 2013, we jointly launched the Joint Bidding Guide, in partnership with the Welsh Government. The Guide, endorsed by the Minister for Finance, is a toolkit designed to help anyone involved in the bidding cycle for public contracts, whether as a buyer or a potential supplier. The Guide supports the work of the Centre’s Consortia Development Team, who work directly with organisations to help form consortia to bid for work.

“Together with WCVA, we feel this on-going work, supported by events like today’s, will go some way to strengthening the tendering skills and capacity of the third sector and improve their win rate.”

 

Rhian Edwards

Project Manager, Business Succession and Consortia

Written by cathewalescoop

March 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

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