Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

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Happy birthday to Gwynfi Community Co-operative

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Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Gwynfi Community Co-operative, an independent co-op that has

been serving the valleys village of Blaengwynfi for 30 years and was celebrating an important anniversary.

View of outside of Gwynfi Community Co-operative

Gwynfi Community Co-operative

The shop was set up during the Miners Strike in 1984 and its ethic of providing an essential service to the community is still very much in place now. When it was set up, the intention was to ensure that it was sustainable and offered paying jobs in the community it served. Today they employ eight people.

Two things struck me about the celebratory event. First was that the shop is run by an extremely enthusiastic group of people, both staff and board members. Their commitment to the co-operative went well beyond the shop and deep into the community of Blaengwynfi.  They are constantly looking at the services the community needs and how the co-operative infrastructure can serve them. The shop offers a meeting place for teenagers and the co-operative are looking to take on other services in the community and base them from the shop.

Gwynfi Community Co-operative celebrations

Gwynfi Community Co-operative celebrations

This year the co-operative is offering a community fund to help groups and individuals in the community. It’s a relatively small amount but it will help people in the community who need it directly. In 2015, they are embarking on a drive to update and recruit new members – I wish them luck with that but I have a feeling they won’t need it!

The other thing that struck me was the interest from other communities in investing in setting up community shops and pubs in their own villages. I met a group of people looking to set up a community shop near the Welsh border and, if that worked, to take over a pub in their village at some time in the future too. Another group were looking at starting up a small community shop, while a third group also wanted to take over their village pub. They have realised that the pub is just an element of what is needed for their community hub, and they have started to look at what else could be offered to their community from that base. Things like a small shop, pop up libraries and rooms for health care and beauty services were discussed.

Many communities have the ability to run their own community hubs, be they pubs, shops, community centres or even leisure centres. Many of these can provide sustainable employment. All of them can provide services to a community as well as acting as a strong glue that can keep the community together and ensure that it is able to look after the individual needs of its members.

Congratulations to Gwynfi Community Co-operative, which is an outstanding example of this.

Written by David Madge

December 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Arloeswyr Modern – Y Fonesig Pauline Green, International Co-operative Alliance

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Dros y pythefnos diwethaf, rydym wedi bod yn cynnal yr ymgyrch ‘Arloeswyr Modern’ ar gyfer Pythefnos Gydweithredol. Ysbrydolwyd yr ymgyrch gan y Rochdale Pioneers, sydd ymhlith cyndeidiau’r mudiad cydweithredol, gan hyrwyddo cadernid ac amrywiaeth y sector cydweithredol yng Nghymru.

I gloi’r ymgyrch, rydym yn falch iawn o gyflwyno post blog gan westai arbennig, y Fonesig Pauline Green, Llywydd Cynghrair Rhyngwladol y Mentrau Cydweithredol. Mae heddiw hefyd yn Ddiwrnod Rhyngwladol y Mentrau Cymdeithasol:

Dame Pauline Green

Fonesig Pauline Green

“Rydw i wrth fy modd gyda ffotograff yr Arloeswyr Modern! Am ffordd wych o gyfuno traddodiad a heddiw. Mae’r mudiad cydweithredol yn symud yn ei flaen, fel sy’n amlwg o bresenoldeb y tair menyw wrth ail-greu ffotograff gwreiddiol yr Arloeswyr. Gallaf hefyd weld amrediad ac amrywiaeth y mentrau cydweithredol sy’n cael eu cynrychioli – rhai mawr a bach, o ynni i siopau cymunedol, mentrau cydweithredol y gweithwyr, a chonsortia cydweithredol – gwaith da iawn.

Mae mor wych bod hyn wedi cael ei wneud yng Nghymru. Rwy’n teimlo cyswllt cryf â Chymru a’i mentrau cydweithredol ar ôl gwasanaethu ar Gomisiwn Llywodraeth Cymru ar Gwmnïau Cydweithredol a Chydfuddiannol yn 2013. Rwy’n gobeithio’n fawr y bydd y mudiad cydweithredol yng Nghymru yn tyfu. Mae traddodiad cryf o weithgaredd cydweithredol yng Nghymru, a’r ysbryd cymunedol sydd wrth wraidd pobl yng nghymoedd Cymru a’r mudiad cydweithredol byd-eang sy’n darparu’r ysbrydoliaeth i’r cyfan lwyddo. Dylai’r Arloeswyr Modern sy’n cynrychioli arweinyddiaeth mentrau cydweithredol yng Nghymru ysbrydoli eraill i adeiladu presenoldeb cydweithredol cryfach yng Nghymru, a helpu i greu swyddi y mae gwir angen amdanynt a chryfhau cydlyniant cymunedol. Dyma’r adeg briodol ar gyfer y gwaith hwn. Yn Sbaen, crëwyd 10,000 o swyddi gan fentrau cydweithredol y gweithiwyr yn ystod pedwar mis cyntaf eleni, ac mae’r sector cyfan wedi tyfu 37% dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf – a hyn oll yn ystod cyfnod o argyfwng economaidd dwfn a gwirioneddol o fewn sectorau traddodiadol yr economi Sbaenaidd.

Arloeswyr Modern

Arloeswyr Modern

Fe wyddoch fod dod o hyd i swyddi yn hanfodol i gymaint o bobl, yn enwedig pobl ifanc mewn cymaint o wledydd ar hyn o bryd. Chwilio am swydd a’m harweiniodd i’r mudiad cydweithredol o ddifrif yn y lle cyntaf. Roeddwn yn gwybod am y Rochdale Pioneers er dyddiau cynnar yn yr ysgol, ac roeddwn wedi mynd â’m plant i Werin y Coed er pan oeddent yn fach ac roeddwn hyd yn oed wedi bod yn arweinydd Gwerin fy hun am gyfnod byr. Ond dechreuais ymwneud ymhellach pan oeddwn yn ddigon ffodus i gael fy CV wedi’i gymryd o ddifrif gan Swyddfa Seneddol Co-operative Union pan oeddwn yn edrych ar ddychwelyd i’r gwaith ar ôl cael plant. Ymgeisiais am nifer o swyddi cyn i’r rôl fel Swyddog Ymchwil ar gyfer Co-op Union ddod i’r amlwg; cefais fy nghyfweld a chefais y swydd. Felly teimlais lawer o gydymdeimlad pan gwrddais â merch ifanc yn y Gyngres Gydweithredol ar 26 Mehefin. Roedd Rhiannon Colvin a grŵp o ffrindiau di-waith wedi dod at ei gilydd a dechrau menter gydweithredol o’r enw Altgen. Ei nod yw dod o hyd i waith i bobl ifanc di-waith, ac mae’n gwneud gwaith gwych. Yn ystod yr un penwythnos, bûm yn helpu i lansio’r gymdeithas dai gydweithredol gyntaf i fyfyrwyr yn Birmingham – grŵp arall gwych o gydweithredwyr ifanc ymroddedig a llawn cymhelliant nad ydynt yn anelu at fod yn arweinwyr y dyfodol, gan eu bod nhw eisoes yn arwain – ac mae hynny mor amheuthun i’w weld.

Rochdale Pioneers

Rochdale Pioneers

Mae Cynghrair Rhyngwladol y Mentrau Cydweithredol yn benderfynol o wneud y gorau o’r blynyddoedd sydd i ddod, yn enwedig peidio â gadael i’r llwch gasglu o dan ein traed ers Blwyddyn Ryngwladol y Mentrau Cydweithredol. Rydym wedi bod yn ysgogi cynnydd ar y ‘Glasbrint ar gyfer Degawd Cydweithredol’, sy’n sefydlu uchelgais y mudiad i fod y model busnes mwyaf cynaliadwy, yr un sy’n cael ei ffafrio gan bobl, ac felly’r un sy’n tyfu gyflymaf erbyn 2020. Mae hwn yn agenda uchelgeisiol ond cyffrous, ac mae llawer o gynnydd wedi bod arno. Ymhlith y mwyaf amlwg yw lansiad y marque cydweithredol newydd. Dynodydd byd-eang a fydd yn rhwymo mentrau cydweithredol ledled y byd, ac a fydd yn adeiladu ein hunaniaeth a’n gwelededd. Pan lansiwyd y marque ym mis Tachwedd 2013, roeddem wedi gobeithio y byddai mentrau cydweithredol yn ei ddefnyddio mewn 100 o wledydd erbyn 2020. Erbyn 30 Mehefin eleni, roedd ceisiadau llwyddiannus wedi’u gwneud gan 68 o wledydd yn barod – Swaziland yw’r ddiweddaraf – gobeithio bod gennyt ti dy un dithau, Cymru? Mae ar gael i bawb ar www.identity.coop. Tra byddwch yn llenwi ffurflen gais ar gyfer y marque, gallwch hefyd ymgeisio am eich enw parth .coop – sydd am ddim am y flwyddyn gyntaf. Drwy hynny byddwch yn rhan o ymgyrch hunaniaeth weithredol – y marque i ddangos eich bod yn rhan o’r mudiad cydweithredol byd-eang, ac enw parth .coop er mwyn gwneud eich hunaniaeth yn weladwy ar-lein.

Mae hi’n gyfnod da i fod yn gydweithredwr. Mae’r mudiad yn tyfu ledled y byd, mae galw cynyddol am system economaidd decach, fwy cyfiawn. Gall mentrau cydweithredol gael effaith sylweddol ar rai o’r problemau mwyaf anhydrin i wynebu’r byd; o ymgorffori democratiaeth llawr gwlad, trwy gyfrwng mentrau a reolir ac a berchnogir yn ddemocrataidd, i eiriolaeth o’n model busnes sy’n rhoi pobl wrth wraidd y broses o wneud penderfyniadau ac nid y rhuthr gwyllt i wneud yr elw mwyaf, i ymwneud â mentrau newid hinsawdd, dod ag arferion cynaliadwy i mewn i’n holl waith, a defnyddio technolegau newydd i ddod â’n strwythurau ariannol a chyfreithiol unigryw i gynulleidfa ehangach.

Diolch i Ganolfan Cydweithredol Cymru am fod mor wych, a gobeithio cewch chi Ddiwrnod Rhyngwladol y Mentrau Cydweithredol 2014 da.

Written by Ieuan Nash

July 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Rural Development Plan – Co-operation

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The Welsh Government’s Rural Development Plan proposals on promoting and facilitating co-operation are welcomed. We welcome the focus on enabling collective approaches to environmental projects and sustainable production alongside the support for community-based renewable energy schemes outlined in the proposed Rural Community Development Fund. Combined, these measures should support renewable energy co-operatives in rural areas. The benefits of renewable energy schemes led by community co-operatives and social enterprises are evident from projects such as Awel Aman Tawe. The benefits of projects like Awel Aman Tawe include:

  1. Improved community buy-in for the renewable energy project as the community has a stake and voice in how the project is run
  2. Sale of electricity to fund local projects
  3. Care for the environment through the production of clean electricity and a commitment to preserving local natural environment
  4. Increase in awareness of clean energy and climate change

We also welcome the proposals for co-operation among operators to aid short supply chains, improve business competitiveness and grow local markets. At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we support businesses to form co-operative consortia. This approach has particular advantages for rural businesses that may not otherwise be able to benefit from economies of scale or population density in the same way as urban businesses can. It allows businesses to work together to bid for bigger contracts in addition to having cost savings through marketing efficiencies and sharing IT and infrastructure costs.

There are good examples of where this is already happening with food and drink producers in Wales. Calon Wen brings together Welsh organic dairy farmers to supply organic milk products throughout Wales and the UK. The co-operative was born out of a desire to ensure that as much Welsh organic milk is processed in Wales as possible. Since its formation, it has developed innovative partnerships with suppliers and customers. It has a close supplier relationship with Rachel’s Dairy, and supplies products to Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Waitrose as well as other key customers across the UK.

Written by Ieuan Nash

May 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Posted in co-operatives, Consortia

Tagged with ,

Co-operative education in Wales

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The Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission made several important recommendations that relate to education. For instance, recommendation one proposes that a co-operative ethos should be the central organising principle of the education system and that co-operation should be integrated into all aspects of school life. Recommendation two proposes that learning about co-operation should be embedded in the curriculum.

These proposals could play a key role in achieving a step-change in the co-operative economy in Wales. As the Commission noted, learning about co-operatives and learning how to co-operate are not part of the formal curriculum in Wales. Embedding co-operative values in education is critical to the creation of future generations of co-operators.

Integrating co-operative values into school life will bring many benefits. Schools that adopt co-operative values as part of their culture and ethos will be more democratic, inclusive and collaborative. Co-operative values foster good relationships with learners and parents, with stakeholders encouraged to have their say in the running of the school.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we are working with partners such as the Co-operative College to explore practical steps to strengthen co-operative education in Wales. We will be responding to the recently announced Curriculum Review for Wales and supporting Welsh Government as well as organisations across the education sector to take the agenda forward.

Written by Ieuan Nash

May 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The Myners’ Report on the Co-operative Group

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The Myners’ Report on the Co-operative Group

The keenly anticipated Myners’ report into issues at the troubled Co-operative Group was published yesterday. Myners doesn’t pull any punches. He talks about a ‘manifestly dysfunctional board’ and comes to a view that there is a limited shared purpose among Group board directors. He goes on to propose a slimmed down board made up of independent directors and executives of the Group.

Everyone agrees that there is a need for radical reforms at the Co-operative Group and in her initial response the Chair, Ursula Lidbetter, has already indicated that the report will be taken seriously. Ed Mayo of Co-operatives UK has stated that there are welcome signs of emerging consensus over the need for change and renewal, which is positive.

It is absolutely right that the Co-operative Board needs to contain people with the appropriate skills to run the business. All businesses need to keep on top of this and the Co-operative Group is no exception.

There is concern amongst some Co-operative Group members about the potential for a weaker link between the membership and the Group. The report proposes a National Members Council, with significant representation from staff, but suggests reducing or removing representation on the Board itself.

The whole point of a co-operative is that it operates on behalf of its members. That connection is vital to a co-operative’s competitive advantage and its ability to respond to the needs of its members. One of the main reasons many of us shop at Co-operative supermarkets and pharmacies is because we know we are buying quality products, procured on ethical grounds with profits returning to people in our own communities, not distant shareholders.

The co-operative sector is much broader than just the Co-operative Group of course. There are hundreds of independent co-operative businesses across Wales, operating in a wide range of areas from food to furniture-making and from health to housing. Many of these have benefited in the past from support funded by the Group as part of its commitment to support other co-operatives. Research shows that the sector has done better than other mainstream businesses during the downturn. The co-operative model is a tried and tested one.

The Co-operative Group has faced difficult times before and has come through them. With thousands of people employed in its businesses across Wales, the future success of the organisation is crucially important to the Welsh economy. We wish it well as it implements the necessary reforms over the months and years ahead.

Read the full Myners’ report here 

Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre

Wrexham’s community pub to thrive this Christmas #gofullcircle

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Wrexham’s community pub to thrive this Christmas #gofullcircle

This blog post is the latest part of our Winter ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign, which is promoting the role of – and encouraging consumers to support – Welsh social enterprises, co-operatives and other community organisations in the run-up to Christmas.

Many thanks to Marc Jones of the Saith Seren community pub in Wrexham, for providing us with a contribution to the Winter 2013 Go Full Circle campaign:

Christmas is Saith Seren’s busiest time of the year as we approach our second birthday as a community cooperative pub and Welsh Centre for the Wrecsam area.

As a well-known venue for live music in the town centre, our weekends are always busy but the Christmas season also means our festive menu will be in demand – we already have more than 180 Christmas dinners booked.

The Centre’s offices and rooms for hire are now becoming very popular with community groups and voluntary organisations wishing to meet in a convenient, refurbished town-centre location and we host a series of Welsh-language classes for all levels of learners. We’re also home to the Cylch Ti a Fi toddlers’ groups and the local Menter Iaith Maelor.

The building we took over has now been transformed from a disused pub that had lain idle for a year into a thriving hub of community activity and entertainment.

For more details, please visit the Saith Seren website http://www.saithseren.org.uk/

The organisation featured in this blog post is just one of many that you can support. Many more can be found on our Go Full Circle directory. Happy Christmas and ‘buy social’

Written by David Madge

December 13, 2013 at 8:50 am

Tafarn y Fic – the heart of the community! #GoFullCircle

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Tafarn y Fic – the heart of the community! #GoFullCircle

This blog post is the latest part of our Winter ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign, which is promoting the role of – and encouraging consumers to support – Welsh social enterprises, co-operatives and other community organisations in the run-up to Christmas.

Thanks to Osian Gwyn Elis of Tafarn y Fic, which is situated on the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd. It sounds as though there’s a jam-packed programme of activities in store for the patrons of this community-run pub:

Tafarn y Fic, Llithfaen this year celebrates a quarter of a century of existence as a cooperative community pub, becoming the oldest in Europe – some feat for a country pub in Pen Llyn.

The Fic of course works hard to offer more than just a pub service. The aim this year is to use the back room for the first time to hold a Christmas party for the children in the village. However, the idea to hold a village children’s party in Llithfaen is not a new one. Indeed, a village children’s party has been an annual tradition since the 50s. There has been no party in recent years therefore the Fic intends to re-establish the custom. This is an example of how the Fic is willing to diversify and give the community a boost.

One of the main advantages of the Fic is that it provides free entertainment and social activities for the whole community.

The Fic Christmas Quiz will take place on 12 December this Christmas – come along and rack your brains while looking back at 2013. There will be a carol evening for the whole family on 23 December led by Seimon Menai and Anne Hafod. Boxing Day afternoon the Moniars will be ready to entertain with lively music! We will be joined by Geraint Lovegreen a’r Enw Da on Saturday 28 – an old favourite! Of course, in order to draw the year to a close in style the Fic’s house band – Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog – will present songs from the 80s on New Year’s Eve – come along in your 80s fancy dress!

Tafarn y Fic – the heart of the community!

(For more information go to http://www.tafarnyfic.com or contact swyddfa@tafarnyfic.com)

The organisation featured in this blog post is just one of many that you can support. Many more can be found on our Go Full Circle directory. Happy Christmas and ‘buy social’.

Written by David Madge

December 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

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