Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Posts Tagged ‘Derek Walker

The Myners’ Report on the Co-operative Group

leave a comment »

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


Welsh social enterprise PS Services announced winners of the One to Watch category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards.

leave a comment »

Welsh social enterprise PS Services announced winners of the One to Watch category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, congratulates the Welsh winners who have been recognised for their achievements at UK level.

When the winners at the Social Enterprise Awards Wales were announced at our awards ceremony in the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff in October, we knew that they would automatically be entered into the UK Final and would have a good chance of achieving recognition at a UK level.

The quality of nominations that we received at the Welsh awards this year made it very hard to pick winners in all four of the categories we judged.

Our judges did an excellent job to select Galeri Caernarfon, Gofal Enterprises (trading as PS Services), United Welsh and Pembrokeshire serial social entrepreneur Cris Tomos. The varied field of high quality nominees proves the high standard and tremendous impact the social enterprise sector has in Wales.

We are delighted to congratulate PS Services, the social business of mental health charity Gofal for its win in the UK One to Watch category.

Gofal Enterprises / PS Services were awarded the One To Watch title at our Wales event for their cleaning and grounds maintenance business which was established to provide supportive employment to vulnerable individuals seeking to return to the labour market.

At the time, Gethin Palmer, Business Manager of PS Services said,

“When an estimated 38% of employers would not knowingly employ someone with a mental health problem, PS Services plays a crucial role in supporting people to learn new skills, build their confidence and access employment opportunities through our cleaning and grounds maintenance services. In addition, any profits go back into Gofal’s work to support people with mental health problems, through home and family support, employment and skills, crisis intervention and community wellbeing projects.”

PS Services and Gofal Enterprises is an excellent example of a social enterprise delivering on its social aims whilst offering a professional and sustainable service to its customers. It addresses a direct social need by employing people with mental health issues whilst offering a viable, sustainable and sellable product to the market place.

It is heartening to see this success on a UK wide stage as an indicator that the profile of the social enterprise sector in Wales is increasing across the country as a whole. Social enterprises and co-operatives are viable and successful business models that can support communities to create jobs and growth. As our own awards ceremony and conference proved, the social enterprise sector in Wales is thriving and growing and making an important contribution to the economy of Wales. It is great to recognise that and to acknowledge the contribution that every social enterprise in the country makes.

How do you measure the impact of community co-operatives?

leave a comment »

A photo of the launch event for Community Co-operatives in Wales

The report was launched at the Saith Seren community run pub, in Wrexham, last Friday (November 16th)

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.

Written by Mark Smith

November 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Co-operatives United – a mission to Manchester

leave a comment »

Picture of Derek Walker

Derek Walker

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.

Written by Mark Smith

November 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

And the winners are…

leave a comment »

North Wales Social Enterprises scoop the 2012 Social Enterprise Awards Wales

Three North Wales social enterprises have won categories in this years Social Enterprise Wales Awards which took place today (Friday 19th October) at the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn.

The awards were hosted by Wales Co-operative Centre and Wales Social Enterprise Coalition and was sponsored by not for profit internet registry company Nominet.

The full list of winners reads as follows:

Kelly Davies, Managing Director, Viability , Conwy; winner of the Social Enterprise Leader of the Year award with Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

Kelly Davies, Managing Director, Viability, Conwy; winner of the Social Enterprise Leader of the Year award with Wales  Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

Social Enterprise Leader of the Year 

Kelly Davies of Vi-ability

Kelly Davies has been Managing Director of Vi-ability for nearly three years. Kelly has succeeded in positioning Vi-ability as one of the leading personal development/employment facing sport industry programmes in UK and Europe for socially disadvantaged participants It produces consistently positive outcomes in relation to engagement, retention and progression.

Kelly was delighted to win the award, “I’m overwhelmed! I really didn’t expect to win after our success in these Awards last year. It shows that we haven’t stood still and we’re still doing something right!”

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker , with Mac McCarthy and Barry Roberts from the North Wales Credit Union, Social Enterprise Start Up of the Year Winner

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker, with Mac McCarthy and Barry Roberts from the North Wales Credit Union, Social Enterprise Start Up of the Year Winner

Social Enterprise  Start up of the Year – North Wales Credit Union

North Wales Credit Union is a financial co-operative which provides a wide range of ethical financial services across North Wales. Regulated by the Financial Services Authority, it is the fourth largest financial mutual in Wales. It was formed in January 2011 through the merger of five credit unions. Since then it has been  looked to as a model of excellence by credit unions and policymakers from across the UK.

Mac McCarthym from the North Wales Credit Union, commented, “Wow! From our persepective, this award is fantastic. Creating North Wales Credit Union took 18 months of really hard work by both staff and volunteers, and we’re accepting this Award on their behalf.”

Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year – St Illtyd’s Communities First Partnership

Anna Chard, St Illtyds Communities First Partnership , Abertillery, Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year Winner, Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan and Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

Anna Chard, St Illtyds Communities First Partnership, Abertillery, Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year Winner, Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan and Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

St Illtyds Communities First is part of a Welsh Government anti-poverty campaign which has been established for 10 years.  The team consists of 5 individuals who are dedicated to supporting and encouraging initiatives that make positive changes to the social economy. They work in Llanhilleth Institute supporting communities from Brynithel, Swffryd, Aberbeeg and Llanhilleth. St Illtyd’s Communities First has been responsible for starting up and supporting 3 social enterprises and creating 16 jobs in a socially deprived area of Wales.

Anna Chard from St Illtyd’s Communities First Partnership stated, “Its a real honour to accept this Award on behalf of the Communities First Partnership Board, the staff team and the social enterprises we support.”

Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year – Special Mention

The City & County of Swansea, Housing Renewals & Adaptations Department was singled out for a special mention as an example of a Local Authority who have made a major contribution to supporting the development of a social enterprise. City & County of Swansea has provided support and been available to reflect, counsel and steer changes to other organisations that resulted in the development of social enterprises such as Swansea Care & Repair Services.

Sharon Jones, Chief Executive , Crest Co-operative ,Llandudno Junction, Social Enterprise of the Year Winner with Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan

Sharon Jones, Chief Executive , Crest Co-operative ,Llandudno Junction, Social Enterprise of the Year Winner with Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan

Social Enterprise of the Year – Crest Co-operative

Crest Co-operative operates a number of recycling enterprises including , a food poverty project that distributes in-date food from food manufacturers to the homeless and vulnerable across North Wales; a textile recycling operation throughout Conwy County Borough Council; and finally Crest Co-operative work with North Wales housing associations to clear empty properties and save kitchens/bathrooms from landfill. Crest Co-operative’s work primarily focuses on social and environmental purposes, working to promote social inclusion and at the same time work to save materials and food from landfill. Sharon Jones from Crest Co-operative recieved the award,  “I’m speechless. This is a real surprise and its great to win such as prestigious award.”

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker commented, “The quality of nominations this year demonstrated not only the breadth and versatility of the sector but the importance the sector has to communities across Wales. The judges this year had a tough task deciding between a number of very dedicated people and a number of extremely deserving nominees. The winners chosen demonstrate an impressive  commitment to their area of expertise and a level of service that is outstanding. We congratulate Crest Co-operative, St Illtyd’s Communities First Partnership, North Wales Credit Union and Kelly Davies and all of the other excellent social enterprises who were shortlisted.”

Not for profit Internet registry company Nominet sponsoredthe Social Enterprise Awards Wales 2012. Nominet run one of the world’s largest Internet registries and manage over ten million domain names. They are entrusted with the safe, stable and secure management of the .uk Internet name space and recently submitted applications for the new .cymru and .wales top level domains. For more information visit

%d bloggers like this: