Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Posts Tagged ‘social enterprise

Congratulations to Siop Y Bobl on the launch of their new shop premises

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Today, one of the co-operatives the Wales Co-operative Centre helped set up in Gower is launching its new village shop premises.

Siop Y Bobl in Llanmadoc was formed by a group of volunteers from the village after the shop and post office that serviced the village closed down. The Wales Co-operative Centre helped the group to set up as a co-operative (registered as an Industrial and Provident Society) and helped develop their business plan.

The shop now provides a wide range of products from fresh goods, home baking, frozen and chilled foods, an off-license, post office and coffee shop. It buys its produce and goods from local producers or suppliers, helping to keep them in business and retaining income in the area.

Siop y Bobl has won numerous awards including the Welsh Volunteers Award, the Best New Business Award, Best Village in South Wales and Best Community in Wales. The members attribute part of their success to the advice they have received from the co-operative movement. Membership is open to anyone in the area who wants to join – without them Siop y Bobl would not exist.

One of the most significant benefits of the co-operative comes from its 50 plus volunteers, many of whom are local people who have retired. The shop is a “social hub” where people can meet and get together on a daily basis, especially people who live on their own and would not see other people.

Siop y Bobl firmly believes that having co-operative principles has meant that a “dying rural community” has been able to thrive. They purchase from 37 local or very local businesses which also helps the wider Welsh economy. Siop y Bobl has faced a number of challenges along the way, especially relating to its premises. After a long period of planning and construction the business has now moved into new premises on the main road through the village.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we have been proud to support this community enterprise and wish them well in their new premises and for a long future as the hub of the community of Llanmadoc.

Branwen Ellis is a Business Consultant at the Wales Co-operative Centre. She is an expert on co-operatives, social enterprises and governance.

Written by davemadgecoop

May 23, 2014 at 10:33 am

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

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…

Positive results for the Social Enterprise Support Project

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December saw the production of the latest Social Enterprise Support Project evaluation reports, the fourth for the Convergence project and first for the Competitiveness project. The reports detail how the projects were planned and set up; they detail the major stakeholders; the funders; they critique the management and delivery processes, the administration protocols and targets; and, of course, they describe the actual delivery.

A large portion of the reports cover the findings of a longitudinal survey conducted with clients – some are new clients, some are clients who have been interviewed, by the evaluators, a number of times throughout the projects. Much of this survey’s results show the progress clients are making as a result of the on going work of the Social Enterprise Support Projects. The report highlights evidence of progression against eleven organisational areas including: an ability to respond to new opportunities, an ability to market ourselves, an ability to competitively tender, an ability to generate profit, an ability to generate income, quality of service/ product, confidence, willingness to embrace risk, leadership and management skills, networking skills and finally overall business acumen.

Here are some quotes from the reports:

Firstly from clients:

Talking about the support the project has given -

  • “This has been absolutely fantastic. Manna from heaven for us”
  • “This support continues to give us the confidence to seek to grow the enterprise in appropriate ways.”
  • “We’re incredibly grateful for the help we’ve had. Sitting and thinking about it now, it’s been a huge help to us as a social enterprise and as a team”
  • “Could not have gone through the process without the help from the DO – she made it all happen”
  • “It was great having an individual to contact who had the expertise and who we could go to if we had questions to ask, knowing they would be answered well.”

In relation to the Bespoke training -

  • “I don’t know if everyone uses it but they should- it’s excellent.”
  • “They’ve been awesome”
  • “The help has been excellent, really useful.”

And from the Evaluators themselves:

  • “….interventions made to date have been of real quality and have made a difference to the clients engaged.”
  • “Satisfaction levels with Development Officers support is very high – extremely or very satisfied at 87%,
  • “92% satisfaction rates for training”
  • “All respondents who had received subsequent support from their DO were either extremely or very satisfied with the support received”
  • “Over two thirds (68%) of respondents were extremely or very satisfied with the type of support they had received”

Written by Social Enterprise Support Project Managers – Nicola Mehegan and Paul Ashman.

Wales Co-operative Centre

The Wales Co-operative Centre was set up thirty years ago and ever since has been helping businesses grow, people to find work and communities to tackle the issues that matter to them. Its advisors work co-operatively across Wales, providing expert, flexible and reliable support to develop sustainable businesses and strong, inclusive communities.

Written by ieuannash

February 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm

#walescoopreport Co-operation can help us all grow – let’s create a collaborative advantage in Wales.

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#walescoopreport Co-operation can help us all grow – let’s create a collaborative advantage in Wales.

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker looks at the report of the Wales Co-operative and Mutuals Commission which is published today.

The Wales Co-operative and Mutuals Commissions report provides Wales with an opportunity to incorporate co-operation into nearly everything we do in our country. It’s an opportunity we should grasp with both hands.

The report is a detailed and insightful dissection of the co-operative sector in Wales. It offers many interesting and innovative recommendations which, if fully implemented, could see Wales become the focus of co-operation in Britain.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we think this report is a big deal.

The Wales Co-operative Centre has supported the development of worker co-operatives and employee owned businesses for many years. From working with the miners in their efforts to purchase Tower Colliery, to advising firms like Primepac and more recently Accommodation Furniture Solutions, we have helped employees sustain their own futures through the co-operative and democratic ownership of their businesses.

The report asks all stakeholders to revise the way in which we think about business development and business growth. It questions current approaches to procurement and tendering. It raises questions on education approaches and it asks us to consider ownership of those assets in our communities which help to forge our identity.
Co-operation has often been stimulated by need in Wales, and to a certain degree that is still the case.

In this report, the requirement for co-operative development and growth is borne out of a strong business case. The report suggests there is a real need for a concerted effort to build a co-operative, cohesive, sustainable business community that develops jobs locally and stimulates local economic development and home-grown business growth. Socially owned enterprises such as co-operatives are more resilient than other business forms with more than 90% of co-operatives surviving their first three years compared to 65% of conventional businesses. According to CASS business schools research, average sales growth of employee owned businesses during the recession was far higher than comparable non-employee owned businesses at the time.

The Commission recognises that co-operatives can be springboards for growth. It calls for specialist business support and advice for people looking to form co-operatives and employee owned businesses. It calls on existing co-operatives to support and mentor new co-operative enterprises and to work with them to build supply relationships. The report also recognises the need for specialised investment finance for developing co-operatives and employee owned businesses. It offers a detailed analysis of the many business sectors where co-operative and mutual models can work including housing, energy, shops and pubs, finance, transport and delivering public services.

We warmly welcome the Commission’s findings on investment finance. The Centre agrees with the recommendation that specialist business support for developing co-operatives and employee owned businesses is essential. The Commission argues that there is a need to establish specific funding for these types of businesses. We welcome the acknowledgement of the need for specialised and targeted availability of grants and loans for co-operative and employee owned businesses and we would echo the call for that funding to be made available.
The Commission also recommends more flexibility in public procurement and for co-operative procurement to be ‘mainstreamed’ through Welsh procurement practice.

These recommendations address major barriers to the development of worker co-ops, employee owned businesses and co-operative consortia in Wales and they will have an important impact on jobs and growth. But, it is also essential to ensure that these developments are protected by an ongoing educational focus that ensures that future generations understand the benefits of working together.
And to me this is all tied together by the first set of recommendations in the report. The Commissioners recommend that the values, principles and skills of co-operation are embedded within our education system. This inventive recommendation will ensure that future generations that progress through the Welsh education system see co-operation and co-operatives as a solid means of building enterprise and as an attractive, sustainable career choice.
The Wales Co-operative Centre welcomes the publication of the report. It makes some bold and ambitious recommendations which, if implemented, could accelerate growth in an already dynamic and innovative sector.

Written by davemadgecoop

February 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

#LeadingWalesAwards launch discussion ‘relevant to social enterprise aims’

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This year, the Wales Co-operative Centre is co-sponsoring the Leadership in Social Enterprise category of the Leading Wales Awards, with Social Firms Wales. Jayne Mills, one of our Social Enterprise Development Officers, attended the first launch event for the 2014 awards, last Thursday, at Moneypenny, in Wrexham. Here’s her account of the event:

I arrived in time to hear Rachel Clacher, Co-Founder and Director at Moneypenny, talk about how leadership contributes to business success and sustainability, followed by remarks by Barbara Chidgey, Chair of the Leading Wales Consortium, summing up some of the conclusions from the discussion.

As they were speaking, I was struck by how much of what they were saying applied to social enterprise and to the way we work at the Wales Co-operative Centre. In particular, they said one of the keys to successful business was to be driven by values and a passion for what we do. Other points which struck a chord with me were that successful leaders and businesses:-

  • Are in control, but are not controlling – they are in control of their own role, and trust others to do theirs. They unleash others’ potential
  • Focus on what staff are doing well and make more of it 
  • Take time to think, listen to others, have conversations and enable communication through fun 
  • Demonstrate they are part of a team and have a commitment to the team 
  • Enable others to grow and focus on what they are jointly trying to achieve – not on themselves – it is not about them 
  • Recognise and thank others for their contribution 
  • Are clear about what they want and foster a team approach to achieve it

They said that a leader can be defined as someone with the ability and willingness to make decisions and the sense of purpose and confidence to see them through, and leadership is about attitude – ‘I have this idea and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen’. But they also said that in Wales people don’t often recognise themselves as having leadership skills. So, if you know someone who is leading a successful social enterprise well, now is the time to nominate them for an award for the recognition they deserve and as a way of inspiring others.

More details can be found on the Leading Wales Awards website

Written by davemadgecoop

January 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

The search for Wales’s top social enterprise leader begins here!

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The search for Wales’s top social enterprise leader begins here!

Today, nominations open for the 2014 Leading Wales Awards. The Wales Co-operative Centre is co-sponsor of the Social Enterprise category, alongside Social Firms Wales.

This year, the awards scheme is celebrating 10 years as the only established, prestigious, pan-Wales awards that recognise, identify and celebrate individual people in Wales whose leadership is having a real impact in business, Public Services, not for profit organisations and communities across Wales.

The focus for the 2014 Leading Wales Awards is to identify and celebrate ‘Individual Leaders in Wales whose leadership is making a real difference and has had positive impact’.

The awards categories are designed to attract entries from all sectors and from all levels of leadership in Wales. There are 8 proposed categories in the 2014 Awards to celebrate individual leadership.

4 generic categories for individual leadership in:

Public Sector 

Voluntary / Not for Profit sector 

Leadership in the Private Sector 

Leadership in Social Enterprise

Categories for individual leadership (for which nominations can come from any sector):

Young Leader (14 – 25 years) 

Team Leader 

Women in Leadership 

Leadership for the Future

The Leadership in Social Enterprise category is open to individuals working within a social enterprise that have a leadership role at whatever level of responsibility. Social enterprises are businesses trading for social and environmental purposes. Social enterprises are distinctive because their social and / or environmental purpose is absolutely central to what they do – their profits are re-invested to sustain and further their mission for positive change.

Last year, the Leadership in Social Enterprise award was won by Menna Jones, who is the CEO of Antur Waunfawr, a social enterprise in North Wales which has developed a range of sustainable projects that create training and employment for people with learning disabilities and other disadvantaged people.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre thinks the awards play an important role: “The Wales Co-operative Centre is once again delighted to be co-sponsoring the Leadership in Social Enterprise category. 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. These awards provide valuable recognition for inspirational social enterprise leaders who can be role models for the sector.”

This week, there are launch events for the awards in North Wales (Wrexham, 16th January) and South Wales (Cardiff, 17th January). These will be followed by ‘Leadership Café’ events in Ebbw Vale (23rd January) and Llandudno (19th February), at Monwel Ltd and Crest Co-operative respectively.

You have two months to submit your nominations for this year’s Leading Wales Awards, with the closing date being Friday 14th March. More information is available on the Leading Wales Awards website.

Written by davemadgecoop

January 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

Leading Wales Awards go ‘live’

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We’re publishing the following information on behalf of the Leading Wales Awards. The Wales Co-operative Centre is delighted to be sponsoring the social enterprise category in this year’s awards, in partnership with Social Firms Wales:

The 10th Leading Wales Awards go “live” in association with Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Next week we have our 10th year launch events in North Wales on 16th January and in South Wales on 17th January and we are focusing on the clear message that “leadership is a key driver of economic growth” and therefore essential to our success in Wales.

Each event is show-casing a highly successful Welsh Business (Admiral is our case study on 17th at Cardiff Met and Moneypenny our case study at Wrexham on 16th January). Both events begin at 08:30 and conclude by 10:15. All details are here.

If you would like to attend either event please book here and state which event you would like to attend.

This is our celebratory 10th year of the Leading Wales awards and once again the Leading Wales Awards Consortium urges you to tell us about that special person you know whose leadership is making a real difference in Wales by nominating them for an Award. You can nominate by downloading an application form from Nominations open on Monday 13th January and close Friday 14th March 2014.

Lansio Gwobrau Arwain Cymru yn 10 oed, mewn cydweithrediad â Phrifysgol Fetropolitan Caerdydd.

Yr wythnos nesaf, rydym yn cynnal ein digwyddiadau lansio deng mlynedd o Wobrau Arwain Cymru, yng Ngogledd Cymru ar 16 Ionawr ac yn Ne Cymru ar 17 Ionawr. Rydym yn canolbwyntio ar y neges glir bod “arweinyddiaeth yn ffactor allweddol o dwf economaidd” ac felly’n hanfodol i’n llwyddiant yng Nghymru.

Mae pob digwyddiad yn arddangos busnes Cymreig hynod lwyddiannus (Admiral yw ein hastudiaeth achos ar 17 Ionawr ym Met Caerdydd a Moneypenny yw ein hastudiaeth achos yn Wrecsam ar 16 Ionawr). Bydd y ddau ddigwyddiad yn dechrau am 8:30 ac yn gorffen erbyn 10:15. Mae’r holl fanylion ar gael yn

Os hoffech chi fynychu un neu ddau o’r digwyddiadau, archebwch yma a nodwch pa ddigwyddiad yr hoffech ei fynychu.

Eleni rydym yn dathlu pen-blwydd Gwobrau Arwain Cymru yn 10 oed, ac unwaith eto mae’r Consortiwm Gwobrau Arwain Cymru yn eich annog chi i ddweud wrthym am y person arbennig sy’n gwneud gwahaniaeth go iawn yng Nghymru drwy ei arweinyddiaeth, ac i’w henwebu am wobr. Gallwch enwebu trwy lawrlwytho ffurflen gais o Bydd enwebiadau ar agor o ddydd Llun 13 Ionawr tan ddydd Gwener 14 Mawrth, 2014.

Written by davemadgecoop

January 9, 2014 at 10:14 am


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