Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Co-operative working in Bron Afon

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We’ve received a guest blog post from Duncan Forbes, Chief Executive of Bron Afon Housing, looking at how co-operation runs through his organisation and how they’re currently working with young people:

“A group of young people are seeing a building being transformed into starter flats, following the spark of an idea they had three years ago.

Bron Afon’s Youth Forum has worked together to give us the best possible advice on meeting the needs of housing for young people.

After all, who else is best placed to solve the housing problem for young people? Our work as a co-operative starts with our youngest members.  They have won awards and spoken at national events about how they organise themselves and get things done.

Suzy Sorby, a member of Afon Youth, and she said: “Due to such an interest with young people and homelessness, in 2011 Peter Mackie, a Cardiff university lecturer attended one of our youth forums and said ‘By 2020, housing for young people will be extremely limited’. This is where the seed was planted.”

Suzy Sorby with Afon Youth

Suzy Sorby with Afon Youth

Three years later and a lot of research and advice from the group has led to our decision not to demolish an unused building, but instead convert it into eight starter flats. They told us there’s a gap for young people living on their own for the first time, to get support if they needed it.

We have set up Own 2 Feet Living to follow this up and enable young people to live independently, in affordable rented accommodation.

They also wanted young people to learn construction skills so eight volunteers are spending a day a week on the building site, being mentored one-to-one by our trade staff.

They will come away with the experience  of working on a building site through courses such as ‘asbestos awareness’ and ‘working from heights’ and be ready to take the standard qualification needed to work in construction.

Bron Afon TyRosserYoungPeopleTy Cyfle will open later this year for young people who are in work, education, volunteering or training.

Bron Afon’s approach to mutualism and working as a co-operative on Own 2 Feet has been featured in this national report, The Enabling State, by the Carnegie Trust UK. That report shows that communities can be transformed by organisations being the facilitators and not the leaders on decisions.

Young people have taken the lead with this initiative and provide each other with mutual support, facilitated by the work of our skilled youth team and our volunteers. Working in this way, the group has dramatically changed the lives and life chances of many of its members for the better, including young people who have previously fallen down the gaps between other support and care services, which is referred to in the report as the ‘disadvantaged minority’.

If you want to find out more about our Youth Forum’s approach to co-operative working please let me know.”



Written by Mark Smith

August 5, 2014 at 10:12 am

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