Posts Tagged ‘Wales’
The Seren Group, which includes Charter Housing, is considering developing co-operative housing on part of the old Pirelli Factory site, just off Corporation Road in Maindee. Before the group moves forward with this idea, it needs to find out whether Newport residents would be interested in living in co-operative housing. Seren is working with the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Chartered Institute of Housing to identify whether there is any demand for this form of housing in the City.
What is co-operative housing?
Co-operative housing is a form of housing where members (either tenants or owners) democratically control and manage their homes and play an active role in the life of the communities they live in. Co-operative housing is very common in other parts of Europe. There are a number of different types of co-operative housing, either for rent or for sale but they have one fundamental thing in common: they put democracy and community ownership at the heart of housing.
Some of the advantages of co-operative housing are:-
• An affordable form of home ownership
• A democratic and safe community
• Long term financing and security
• Flexible to meet occupiers needs
• Potential of shared benefits of communal energy
What is the plan for co-operative housing in Newport?
Seren’s plan for the old Pirelli site is to create a community of around 200 homes which will be a mix of homes for rent and to buy. The vision is of an ‘urban village’; bringing the community benefits of village life to the heart of the City. Seren would like to include an area of co-operative housing in this development, if there are enough people interested.
Why are we reaching out to you and what should you do next?
We are trying to find out whether you are interested in knowing more about the development of the Pirelli site and whether you are interested in being a part of the co-operative Seren wants to support on the site.
If you are interested in finding out more, please go online using this web address
You’ll be asked to answer a few questions about yourself, your family, your current housing situation and to provide your contact details.
We will then write to you with more information about co-operative housing and an invitation to attend an event to tell you more about Seren’s plan and the types of co-operative housing that may be possible.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Dave Palmer from the Wales Co-operative Centre on 029 2055 6169.
The consultancy.coop, a small Co-operative Development Body (CDB) based in south Wales has recently set up a new website aimed at helping new and growing co-ops with their Community Share Issues.
Alex Bird, one of the partners in the co-op, realised after working with a number of community co ops trying to finance projects through share issues, that whilst they could market themselves easily to local people, communicating to the wider public wasn’t easy on a small budget. He and his colleagues have worked with community shops, community centres, pubs, football and rugby clubs, festivals, food co ops, bike shops, off-road cycle centres, recycling projects, gyms and energy co ops, and all had difficulty marketing their share issues. Many didn’t proceed with a share issues because they couldn’t see how they would get sufficient share sales and the activists involved looked to other sources of finance such as grants and loans.
Some projects they’ve worked with have been very creative in their share issues, linking up with credit unions and CDFIs to enable people to get lines of credit or save up to buy shares, but they still find it difficult to contact their diaspora, and you can only raise so much from local people.
Many projects have a wider appeal than just their immediate neighbourhood, and there is a large body of people across the UK and further afield who don’t have a project nearby but would like to support one. Real ale pubs, vegetarian and vegan shops, football clubs, and of course ecological and green energy projects are examples of projects with a broader appeal, but many such projects weren’t getting through to their potential share buyers, and at times weren’t hitting their finance raising targets.
After many discussions about who wasn’t doing what and whose job it was to sort out this problem, and why “they” should be doing it, consultancy.coop did what co-operators always do in the end – got on with it themselves.
Using the well-known open source software from WordPress and with the help of Co-operatives UK Internet Services they have set up a .coop site from their own resources.
The new website is up and running at http://www.shares.coop and features all the Community Share Issues they know about free of charge in a classified style listing, plus lots of advice and guidance. The site is presently entirely self-funding, although as it develops they hope to bring some sponsorship on board in order to raise income and grow the site, so they offer paid for features as well as the basic free listing.
Help them improve their SEO and get up the Google ratings by visiting the site, telling your friends, blogging, tweeting and linking your website to theirs.
• Cost to you £0
• Principle 6 credibility – Priceless
The independent Commission has been set up to make recommendations on growing and developing the co-operative and mutual economy in Wales.
We want to hear your views
The Commission would like to hear views from people in Wales and wider afield: producers, consumers, householders, those in and out of work, local communities, those running businesses in Wales, those with experience of the co-operative and mutuals sector and individuals, communities or groups who would like to start their own enterprise.
- What opportunities are there for developing and growing co-operatives and mutuals in Wales?
- What role should co-operatives and mutuals take in the delivery of public services in Wales?
- How can the Welsh Government support the formation and growth of co-operatives and mutuals in Wales?
- What scope is there for existing co-operatives and mutuals to expand their operations in Wales and to assist other co-operatives to set up and grow.
- Have you ever considered setting up or converting to a co-operative or mutual enterprise in Wales?
- If so, where did you go for information and support and did you receive appropriate advice?
- If you have received business advice in Wales, were you provided with information about the co-operative and mutual business models? How helpful was that advice? In what ways could it be improved?
- What constraints are you aware of in establishing and expanding co-operatives and can you suggest ways of getting around them?
- Are there ways in which the use of information technology and social media could be used to strengthen the co-operative and mutual economy in Wales?
How your views will help
Your views will help inform the Commission’s findings which will be presented to the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.
How to respond
The deadline for responses is 19 April 2013.
Please submit your views and suggestions in one of the following ways:
@coopmutualwales (External link)
Join in the conversation
Our Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission Linkedin group (External link) allows members to share knowledge, provide feedback and discuss the issues being discussed by the Commission.
Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission
c/o Welsh Government
Ground Floor, North Wing
Following the publication of our new ‘Community Co-operatives in Wales’ report, our Chief Executive, Derek Walker, looks at measuring the impact of such businesses:
When we started publishing our four reports on the co-operative economy in Wales at the beginning of this year we already knew co-operatives added value to communities and jobs and growth to economies. We wanted to demonstrate that a co-operative approach was an alternative, but valid, way of doing real business. When we exhibited at the recent International Co-operative Alliance Expo Trade Event in Manchester recently with some of Wales’ most successful co-operatives, it was apparent that the organisations attending were there to do business: to make new contacts; pitch for new business and to grow.
Our most recent report is published this week. ‘Community Co-operatives in Wales – Ordinary people doing extraordinary things’ looks at the range of ways in which co-operative approaches are helping Welsh communities.
In our country there are over a hundred community co-operatives. They come in all shapes and sizes and are found in almost all parts of Wales. Some are large – Wrexham Supporters Trust which owns Wrexham Football Club has more than 2,000 members, whilst others such as new co-operative Grwp Adfywio Dinas Mawddwy, which was created to purchase a retail outlet and turn it into a community resource, are relatively small. Community co-operatives can provide a wide range of services from pubs and village shops to childcare, training, food and retail and even renewable energy.
Our research shows that community co-operatives offer economic, social and environmental benefits to their communities and to Wales as a whole, because they bring together people who are committed to their community to deliver services that their communities need.
Community co-operatives offer the best of both worlds. They are businesses, so they trade and have to think about their costs, prices and markets. But they also have social values, trading fairly and responsibly for the good of everyone.
Co-operatives provide jobs and income. In the Afan valley, the Glyncorrwg Ponds co-operative employs seven people directly and 23 people indirectly in a community where a third of the population of working age claims an unemployment related benefit. The facilities developed and managed by the co-operative make a massive contribution to the growing tourism industry in the area. Further west, Carmarthenshire Country Markets gives people in the area access to high quality, local produce. It also provides a market for local food-producers and crafts-people.
Community co-operatives can have environmental benefits. Community co-operative shops reduce the number of journeys made by car, while community food co-operatives reduce food miles, reduce the amount of packaging used, and discourage food waste. In Pembrokeshire, Cwm Arian Renewable Energy is developing renewal energy generation capacity in the communities of Hermon, Y Glog and Llanfyrnach. Forty per cent of the income generated will be used to increase the energy efficiency of local households, twenty per cent will be used to support investment in low carbon social enterprises, with the balance being used for reducing the community’s carbon footprint.
Community co-operatives are not just in it for their own benefit. Many support groups in their locality and generate spin off activities as a direct result of their work. Gwynfi Community Co-operative makes donations to local community groups and supports local schools. Rhuddin Housing Co-operative in Kidwelly has set up a community supported agriculture scheme and opened up areas of woodland to the public. This ‘re-cycling’ of profits is an important approach for developing community assets.
Whether it is bringing old buildings back into beneficial use, providing vital services or being the ‘glue’ that holds the community together, community co-operatives are proving to have a significant role in community cohesion across Wales.
So how do you measure the benefits of co-operative approaches in communities? It is difficult. Metrics such as jobs created and training opportunities have a real value but as our report demonstrates each of these organisations delivers value above and beyond their raison d’etre.
As one respondent noted in our research, his project consists of ‘Ordinary people doing extraordinary things’. But his project is not unique. This report has given us an insight into the extraordinary amount of people and projects across Wales which are having a massive impact across their own communities and their own economies. How do you accurately measure that?
You will also find a version of Derek’s article in today’s Western Mail.
Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre
I had no idea what to expect travelling up to Manchester for Co-operatives United, the global event that marks the end of the International Year of Co-operatives 2012. With a mix of conference, workshops and exhibition space, the best description is probably a party conference combined with a trade fair but on an international stage. Thousands of delegates are here from all over the world.
There is a huge amount on offer. My focus is on uncovering new ways we can continue to grow the co-operative sector in Wales. It is a one-off opportunity to learn about co-operative success stories around the world and bring back lessons to Wales in the same way that the founders of Wales Co-operative Centre did following their visit to Mondragon over thirty years ago.
Activities that I’ve been interested in have included a workshop on new economic development and lessons from the Evergreen Co-operatives in Ohio. Other highlights include the opening ceremony and a key-note speech from Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance and Monique Leroux, Chief of Executive of Desjardins, the large co-operative financial business in Canada; the gender forum when Polly Toynbee will speak; and a workshop about co-operative councils.
The Wales Co-operative Centre is all over this conference! We are jointly hosting a Wales stand, where successful Welsh Co-operatives such as Calon Wen, Dulas and PrimePac Solutions will seek to do business with other co-operatives. We are supporting a workshop about Mondragon, sharing learning from a recent return trip. And a good number of our staff will be in Manchester soaking up ideas and making new contacts to inform our future strategic priorities.
Co-operatives are fundamentally about people coming together to achieve goals collectively and to resolve common problems. And that is what Co-operatives United is about too, on a global scale.
Tomorrow, at the ICA Expo ‘Co-operatives United’, two Welsh co-operatives will go in front of an international audience in a bid to sell their products and services. The hosted buyers workshop at the event, being held at the Manchester Central, could be attended by up to thirty companies looking to do deals with Dulas Ltd and PrimePac Solutions.
PrimePac’s Managing Director, Steve Meredith has told us how he has prepared for the event and how he is feeling ahead of the meet the buyer session:
I have exhibited PrimePac’s services and capabilities at numerous exhibitions with, to be honest, limited success. Networking is the most you can hope for. I live in hope but don’t expect anyone to visit any exhibition stand with a need for a million sachets. But who knows?
Usually I am just one of the many companies vying for the attention of the buyers attending. The difficult part is to know who the buyer is. I have often mused that if only they would make the buyer, who is actually keen to develop a business proposal, wear a big orange hat! Never going to happen, so the challenge is similar to a shop or pub worker who has a secret customer who will appear at any time, you have to keep positive and read name tags fast. The hardest thing for me is to smile when I know the visitor, although maybe interested, is never going to raise an enquiry or place an order. Worse still is the salesman who wants to sell me something when I am trying to sell, and as you’re talking to this visitor you see the buyer you really want to talk to walk past, straight into the outstretched business card of a competitor.
Enough negatives and whinges, in sales every ‘no’ means you’re closer to the next ‘yes’.
Contract packing is a strange sell. I basically sell machine time, as the products are not mine they are my customer’s. In the past I have stood there with all the sachets, bottles and packs previously made at PrimePac scattered and arranged around me, thinking everyone knew what a contract packer does, and the sad fact is that they don’t.
So at the ICA Expo I am going minimalist. No samples of other people’s products, it’s stripped to bare bones…a few PrimePac sachets and bottles and two pop-up banners. My first aim this time is to make sure people know what we do and what a contract packer can offer. Fingers crossed on that one! Apologies for my scepticism but last time I stood there with samples of all sorts and a large poster behind, professing that PrimePac is a great contract packer, packing sachets, bottles, strip and blister packs only to be asked what I did and if I had anything to clean the wheels on their van! But as always keep smiling, well try to anyway.
Sales are key to any business. It’s what feeds the hungry mouths otherwise known as employees and members. It’s what drives me to think that the next yes is just after the last no.
Cup half full at the moment, but what will I be like two days into the event? Smiling and pleasant or will the veil slip and a glimpse of a salesman trying to keep a multimillion-pound business fed, peep through?
The last few days I have designed the banners and set about putting PowerPoints and videos onto my iPad! So now I have an iCloud account, a Dropbox and some mpg to mp4 converter software. Whoever says Apple, iTunes and iPads are easy is very much respected by me. I struggle to find my way around the forums but it looks like I have made it.
Having spent the last few days on sales visits and getting everything ready for Manchester, the adventure can begin………….