The Co-op of the Year Awards 2020

The UK's most inspirational co-ops, chosen by you

From large commercial businesses to expanding enterprises and innovative start-ups, there are thousands of thriving co‑operatives across the UK.

We're inviting you, the people who are running, using and supporting co‑operatives up and down the country, to decide which organisations and individuals will be honoured in the Co-operative of the Year Awards 2020.

The winners will be presented with their awards on Friday 19 June at a glittering gala dinner held in the historic Rochdale Town Hall. We're hosting the awards in the home of co-operation to celebrate 175 years since the Rochdale Pioneers established the first commercially successful co-operative, spawning a global movement. It's also 150 years since Co-operatives UK was founded in 1870, making it a double celebration! This year, we have four awards for co-ops and we'll also be awarding several individual awards to a number of people who have contributed to shaping the co-operative movement.

We're changing the way that winners are selected. Individual awards will be selected by a panel of judges made up of representatives from Co-operatives UK members.  Whilst the co-op awards will be selected by a combination of judges' scores and a public vote - so anyone can win! 

Unlike many other professional business awards, the Co-op of the Year Awards are completely FREE to enter. They are open to all Co-operatives UK members.



The Co-op of the Year Awards are sponsored by The Co‑operative Bank

The Co-op of the Year Awards Categories

Leading Co-op of the Year 2020

The leading co-operative of the year award is for co-ops with a turnover above £30 million. Featuring high-performing retail, farming and housing co-ops among others, this will be a hotly contested category –  The Co-op was last year’s proud winner - who will take home the prize in 2020?  

Inspiring Co-op of the Year 2020

This award is for co-ops with a turnover of between £1m and £30 million, and includes a range of thriving co-ops, from leisure trusts and sports clubs to successful worker-owned businesses. Last year's winner was The Schools' Energy Co-op.

Breakthrough Co-op of the Year 2020

Won last year by Bristol Wood Recycling Project, this award is for co‑ops with a turnover of up to £1 million, covering everything from start-ups and community shops, to freelancer co‑ops and care providers.  

Co-operative Council of the Year 2020 (sponsored by CCIN)

Won last year by South Tyneside Council, this recognises best practice as demonstrated by co-operative local authorities and also celebrates the great work delivered at a local level.  This award is sponsored by CCIN, the Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network.

Co-operator of the Year 2020

These awards recognise inspirational UK-based co-operators who embody the co-operative values and principles and/or who have helped to shape the co-operative movement. Nominations are open to anyone affiliated to a Co-operatives UK member and there will be several awards presented. Thess awards will be decided by a panel of judges made up of Co-operatives UK members.​

Maria Cearns Managing Director, Current Accounts and Savings from sponsors The Co-operative Bank, says: 

“The awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of co-op organisations across the UK.  We look forward to hearing how organisations and individuals use the power of co-operation to enable their co-op businesses to flourish in a fair and equitable way. I'm really looking forward to seeing who wins in 2020 and celebrating with all the nominees in Rochdale, the home of co-operation.”

The process

  • The closing date to apply to be part of the judging panel is midnight on the 30 March 2020. 
  • Up to six judges will be selected, representing a cross section of Co-operatives UK's member co-ops.
  • Nominations for the five award catgories are accepted until midnight on 20 April 2020. Please set out, in no more than 250 words, your reasons for nominating organisations or individuals for an award.
  • Co-ops can nominate themselves or another co-op AND as many individuals  as they like for the awards. Please select which category you think best suits each nomination. 
  • Judges will shortlist and anonymously rank the nominees in each category. Judges cannot vote in any categories where they are affiliated with a nominee.
  • Online voting for the four co-op awards will take place from 4 May to 10 June. There is no provision for voting by any offline means. 
  • Winners for the four co-op awards will be chosen through a combination of public voting and judges scores.  Individual awards will be selected by the judges with no public vote.
  • The winners will be announced at an awards dinner held on the evening of Friday 19 June


How to nominate a co-op or individual

Complete this form explaining in 250 words or less why you are nominating the co-operative and/or individual.

The co-op(s) nominated must be a member of Co-operatives UK and cannot have won an award in 2019. Co-operator of the Year Award nominees must be affiliated with a Co-operatives UK member co-op. 

What makes for a good nomination

The best nominations will persuade someone who doesn't know the co-op to vote for it. Fast growth? Profitable? Innovative? Great member involvement? Excellent products? Making a difference? It's your decision as to why the co-op deserves the nomination. The key is to convince others to vote.

Similarly for individual awards, we are looking for people who really embody the co-op values and principles. Are they an inspirational mentor? Great at encouraging co-operation amongst co-ops? Dedicated to co-op education? Let us know what difference they have made to the UK co-op movement.

How shortlisting works

Up to five co-operatives for each category will be shortlisted by our judging panel, made up of Co‑operatives UK’s Chair, Secretary General, a senior representative from sponsors The Co-operative Bank and CCIN (for the Co-op Council Award) and up to six Co-operatives UK member co-ops. Shortlisting will be based on the strength of the 250 word nomination(s). The previous year's winners are not eligible to enter.  The judges will anonymously rank the shortlisted co-ops, and they will be given a score. 

How the voting works

Anyone can vote once for their favourite in each category. So each person gets six votes in total, though you can vote for fewer if you want. Co‑operatives are encouraged to promote the awards to their staff, customers and members. All votes must be online via the awards website. The judges scores will be added to the votes to decide the winners.

How the individual awards are chosen

There is no public voting for the individual awards.  The winners will be decided by the judging panel, based on the strength of the 250 word nomination(s). Several people can win awards, there is no maximum number of Co-operator of the Year Awards. 

What the winners get

As well as being presented with their awards at our annual ceremony, the winning co-ops and individuals will benefit from promotion of their co-operative and the kudos of winning this prestigious award. The Breakthrough Co‑operative of the Year will also have the option to access £1,000 worth of specialist business advice from The Hive, our business support programme in partnership with The Co-operative Bank.