Co-operative of the Year Awards 2019 - the shortlist

Which co-operatives or and/or individuals within the co-operative movement inspire you the most? We asked you, the people who are running, using and supporting co‑operatives up and down the country, to decide the Co-operative of the Year Awards winners across each of the six categories.

The winners have now been announced. Information on all nominees can still be found below.



 

Breakthrough Co-operative of the Year

This award is for co‑ops with a turnover of up to £1 million who are breaking new ground and already achieving great things. Read the great submissions in what is sure to be a hotly contested category.  

Bristol Wood Recycling Project

Bristol Wood Recycling Project (BWRP) changed its status to a co-operative several years ago. As an organisation it has been running successfully for 15 years. It has just raised money to purchase the site it is renting and so will guarantee the stability of this worthwhile organisation for the future.

There is a board of directors but all major decisions are made by the co-op members and then carried out by the directors. The objectives of the organisation are social inclusion, recycling of waste wood, making resources available to local residents and remaining non-profit. These objectives have remained the same and are the driving force of the organisation. Social inclusion and support for volunteers has been a positive success story for BWRP - a truly worthy co-operative.

Chapeltown Cohousing

Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo) finally started building its dream of creating a co-operative community of 29 houses in inner-city Leeds in April 2019. ChaCo started as a fully mutual housing co-operative in 2001 with one house in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. ChaCo added a second house in 2013 and since then has been working to transform derelict land into a vibrant neighbourhood with low-energy homes, shared facilities, recreational space, opportunities for inter-generational connections and a diverse intentional co-operative community.

Years of planning finally paid off and work on the £5.3 million development started in April. In 15 months time ChaCo will become a larger co-op with a mix of affordable rented and shared ownership homes.

What makes ChaCo unique is that it has grown out of the local community with over two-thirds of members drawn from the local area and ChaCo reflects the diversity and values of the local area. ChaCo has six core values that inform every aspect of its development:

  • Inclusive and open minded – actively participating in the local community
  • Sharing and supportive – helping each other to create a great community with common facilities
  • Personal/private – each person/family having their own front door and also shared space and shared resources
  • Diverse – a wide range of people, different ages, backgrounds and incomes
  • Environmentally friendly – supporting and promoting sustainable living
  • Empowering – each member having ownership and an equal

Norwich Mustard

Norwich Mustard is a bold upstart, founded by a group of Norwich residents angered by Unilever's decision to close Colman's mustard factory after 160 years.

An initial budget was crowdfunded from 184 people and the community benefit society set up. The co-operative is now producing and marketing mustard locally. A community share issue early in 2020 will fund the opening of a Mustard Heritage Centre in the city (potentially on the re-developed Colman's site). 

Norwich Mustard is still a small operation, but the impact is huge, demonstrating to all that a community can take control when corporate behavious strips it of what was once - an altruistic family owned company that provided housing, schooling and medical care for its staff.

Norwich Mustard has had extensive talks with Norwich Prison and plans to provide valuable work experience to men nearing the end of their sentence, as well as employ ex-offenders in its heritage centre and production unit.

Projekts MCR

Located in a previously disused space under the ring road, Projekts MCR skate park forms a vital community hub in inner city Manchester, providing a safe place for people young and old to build their confidence, make friends and be active. They run female-only classes, adults’ classes and reach over 3,000 children a year through skateboard coaching classes.

Over the last five years skate park attendance has shot up and Projekts MCR recognised a need to expand, launching their first ever community share offer with an initial target of £50,000 to add more skate space, energy-saving LED floodlights and expand the spectator space. In the end they raised £132,000, including match investment of £67,194 from the Community Shares Booster Programme, smashing their target!  As well as the funding, through the share offer they’ve built a group of committed supporters who really care about the skate park and their work, because they have a stake in it. 

Revolver Co-operative

Revolver is an innovative award-winning co-operative, recognised in 2018 by Ethical Consumer Magazine as being "1st for Ethics" among 34 European coffee brands. It is the holder of the Fair Tax Mark, an accredited Living Wage Employer. Revolver is signed up to the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility and the vast majority of its output is both Fairtrade certified and organic certified by the Soil Association.

In 2018 Revolver developed the new trademark 'Cooperative Coffee' and, in 2019, 'Coop Coffee' - both in partnership with The Co-op Group. With the help of the European Development Fund (ERDF), Revolver has launched a range of coffee bags to accompany its existing range of Nespresso capsules.

Membership now stands at over 300 and in the year ahead Revolver will create branded coffee shops, under the 'COOP COFFEE' brand - utilising the ICA marque and combined Revolver/The Co-op Group-owned trademark. The first branded coffee shop will be at Thame belonging to Midcounties and there are plans to roll out the “COOP COFFEE” coffee-shop concept to more Co-operative Food stores in 2019. The vision is to create a viable co-operative solution to compete against Starbucks and Costa, at least in Co-op Food stores, but eventually as viable branded alternatives, reflecting co-op values, ethics, choice and difference.

 

Inspiring Co-operative of the Year

This award is for co-ops with a turnover of between £1m and £30 million and includes a hugely diverse range of thriving and inspirational co-ops.

Infinity Foods

Infinity Foods is often referred to as the 'grandad of the health food world'. This year marks Infinity's 40th year and in that time it has grown from a small shop in the heart of Brighton into the large co-operative we see today - with a large shop, a cafe and wholesale business which trades all over. 

Infinity Foods' shop and bakery has been leading the way in the south of England, with a soil association certified fruit and vegetable section (deomstrating a commitment to customers' health and nutrition and environmental responsibility). Infinity's body care section works hard to stock a range of products and brands doing the right thing. That means sourcing products with no nasty chemicals and prioritising plastic-free, organic, fair-trade and palm oil-free affordable products. 

Infinity Foods does amazing work in its local community, donating money to local wildlife charities and projects; supporting people fallen on hardship; donating to homeless charities; and in 2019 helping with period poverty in Brighton and Hove. Infinity also supported Pesticide Action Network in campaigning to make Brighton and Hove pesticide free. 

Infinity Foods continues to be a beacon of fair trading and co-operative working in Brighton and Hove. Its workers are given the tools and opportunity to develop their skills in the workplace and Infinity Foods, as a team of people, truly embody the seven co-op principles, with the business democratically run for the benefit of the workers and the community.

Outlandish

Outlandish, a class-leading web development worker co-op, has shown fantastic commitment to co-operative values by investing really significant time and resources in co-operative and community development. It led and then underwrote the formation of the Tech Co-ops network - one if the most exciting developments in co-op sectoral organisation for years - with a mission to grow the co-op share of tech by promoting the model in their industry and increasing collaboration between co-ops.

The worker co-op designed and resourced the Outlandish Fellowship, to enable groups to realise a number of ground-breaking social 'tech for good' projects. Outlandish supported and contributed to: the Worker Co-op Solidarity Fund; the developing platform co-ops and freelancer co-ops agenda; and the wider movement, as well as projects in their local community. Outlandish engaged local politicians in mainstreaming the co-op development agenda  and also took a big risk in underwriting a new co-op shared work and meeting space project, Space4, which is now London's only low-cost/free coop venue.

Outlandish are relentlessly innovative in developing models of economic democracy and participation using a wide range digital, platform and cultural tools. The co-op's contribution is characterised by energy, enthusiasm and practical solidarity. While being quite modest themselves, it has to be said that Outlandish have put their money where their mouth is in fulfilling the highest mission of every co-op - to create new co-operatives and co-operators, and build the co-operative commonwealth. They are also fantastically talented and professional web developers. Truly a leading co-op this year.

The Schools' Energy Co-operative

The Schools’ Energy Co-operative was launched in 2014 to provide community sourced funding for and engagement in solar panel systems on schools throughout England. Their mission is to enable all schools to have solar panels if they wish. Beginning with a flagship project of a 150kW solar array in East Sussex the Co-operative has gone on to install panels on 48 schools, including 16 in the last two years and totalling over 1.5MW of generation.

Working with schools located from the South coast to the North East of England, the co-op partners with local environmental groups, parents’ associations, local authorities and multi-academy trusts, and is actively supported by schools’ building advisors. Where possible, they aim to make some of the panels easily seen by students so they know how their school is attempting to tackle climate change.

Professionally managed by Energy4All, the co-operative enables local community groups to deliver solar panels on their schools without themselves undertaking the 20-year commitment to manage the installation. It operates as a successful business but with a very different ethos from the commercial sector as the community are centred throughout.

After paying interest at a fair and capped rate to its funding members, the co-operative then distributes its entire surplus to member schools. The co-op trades successfully and profitably where projects are financed through share offers which are locally promoted. The Schools’ Energy Co-operative provides schools with a sustainable solar powered electricity supply and engages both the local community and students in their projects.

Shared Interest Society

Shared Interest has been helping people trade their way out of poverty through fair finance and business support for almost 30 years. 

Shared Interest acts co-operatively with over 11,500 investors coming together to achieve a common goal, pooling their £42 million of investments. It uses these funds to provide loans and credit facilities - primarily fair trade businesses - to ensure that farmers are paid on time for their crops. 

Shared Interest's work is not just about providing finance on fair terms. The fair trade producers helped say the society has helped transform their communities. Last year, Shared Interest members helped make a positive impact on the lives of 470,000 individuals. Its loans and credit facilities ensure that fair trade farmers are paid on time for their crops. Its finance helps fair trade handcraft organisations to buy raw materials, and enables fair trade co-operatives to pre-finance orders from their overseas buyers.

From a head office based in Newcastle upon Tyne, and with support of in-country colleagues, Shared Interest reaches almost 400 fair trade organisations in over 60 countries!

Shared Interest finance supports Fairtrade products such as coffee, fresh fruit, nuts, and cocoa, as well as handcrafts such as weaved baskets and furniture. This year the society made payments totalling £62.9m to 363 organisations in 63 countries.

Kansole Eli is a member of UDF/CDN, a shea butter co-operative in Bukina Faso which benefited from Shared Interest finance. She said: "I used to depend on my relatives' help to feed my family but with the improvement in my income, I was able to provide food for my children without any external help."

South Devon Organic Producers

South Devon Organic Producers (SDOP) is an award-winning organic vegetable growing farmers' co-operative that has been trading on a not-for-profit basis for 20 years - with most founder members still taking active roles.

Always innovative, while also continually seeking to recruit new members, this great co-operative always looks to introduce new concepts in a bid to prolong the longevity and provide new inspiration to the business. SDOP is a successful co-operative and employer and owns machinery for all to hire. While nurturing its members and employees alike, SDOP is a progressive co-op - with modern methods of mechanisation and money-saving throughout the business to ensure it best serves its members' needs.

Growing organically and sustainably, SDOP is possibly the largest organic grower and supplier co-operatives in the UK with over 600 acres in vegetable production. It ensures that vegetables are delivered from the growers to the customer as fresh from the field as possible.

 

Leading Co-operative of the Year

The leading co-operative of the year award is for co-ops with a turnover above £30 million. The shortlist features high-performing retail and farming co-ops.

The AF Group

The AF Group is one of the largest agricultural co-operatives in the UK, with a turnover of over £270 million and a growing 3,500 membership. It comprises its core agricultural society and two subsidiaries – AF Affinity, a B2B and B2C procurement service for non-agricultural businesses and AF Biomass, professional straw merchants for the energy, food and farming sectors. To help achieve its objectives AF has invested £100,000 into its L&D budget to ensure its 129 product and industry specialists are developing their skills in line with member’s needs.  
 
With a new 5-year growth strategy in place which unifies the core elements of the business – members, staff and suppliers – AF has invested in its technological capabilities through a new CRM system and the implementation of Net Promoter Score software to establish a current score in the high 30’s. This has enabled AF to streamline its internal costs and realign its focus to its member’s needs, helping it to increase profits by 90% to £2.16million during the 2018/19 Financial Year. This improved performance has also seen AF increase its rebates by 82% to £1.1million, £300,000 of which went back to members via a first-ever discretionary general rebate.

AF’s drive for growth is informed by its SERV values – Service, Excellence, Responsibility and Value - which has seen it build relationships with suppliers and engendered resilience in the supply-chain to help foster trust and confidence for our members.

Central England Co-operative

This year Central England Co-operative has reinvigorated its reputation as a successful, independent, community-based co-operative with over 430 outlets, 230,000 active members and more than 8,000 colleagues. The society is looking to the future with a new CEO, plans for growth and a renewed focus on membership values.  The Society has been investing in locations to strengthen its impact at the same time as creating value for members and local communities. At the core of this growth are the co-operative values and principles - providing a credible, relevant alternative for the communities it serves.

The society has pioneered a ground-breaking food redistribution scheme seeing over 130 food stores now partnered with FareShare East Midlands, providing hundreds of charities with quality food to support families in need. Ethical trading has been paying dividends, with recent sales growth (2.5%) thanks to continued investment, alongside projects such as a strategic 48% reduction in the Society’s carbon footprint.

The Society is an active supporter of the ‘Time to Change’ campaign to reduce the stigma around mental health. 
Central England has championed local community food banks, actively promoting them in food stores resulting in customers and members making over 250,000 donations in the last year.

Over 140 community groups and good causes shared £173,000 as part of the Society’s Community Dividend Fund and a link-up with charity partner Dementia UK has now reached the £1 million milestone. The Society’s results demonstrate a commitment to co-operative values and principles and turning those into truly impactful actions.

The Co-op Group

Having launched its Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities ambition last year, The Co-op Group has grow significantly. Growth has come through increased sales and some notable business development. For example, its acquisition of Nisa will provide better buying scale across the wider Co-op Movement. 

This growth has increased the positive impact created for members and local communities. Through their trade with The Co-op Group, members have shared over £60m of personal reward and have directly supported over 4,000 community projects. The Co-op Group has also continued to innovate. It introduced the UK’s first compostable carrier bags as part of an initiative to tackle plastics and pioneered new travel and life insurance products, following close engagement with members.  

The Co-op Group has continued to grow investment in, and appeal towards, a younger age group :  

  • Six new co-op academy schools were added in 2018 and on track to having 40 co-op academy schools by 2022 
  • Exclusive presence at four summer music festivals has significantly increased brand awareness.

Finally, The Co-op Group as campaigned and led the way on key areas of concern for members, including modern slavery, loneliness and Fairtrade. This year, as The Co-op Group celebrates its 175th year, it will build and strengthen the case for co-operation even more, at a time when the UK needs it most. With continued support of colleagues, members and communities in which it operates, The Co-op Group is confident it can create even more co-op impact in the years ahead.

Openfield

Openfield is the UK’s only national grain marketing, seed, fertiliser and logistics co-operative owned by over 4000 arable farmers. We are a significant business turning over in excess of £600m and handling about four million tonnes of grain a year, about 20% of the UKs market.

We are a new business forming in November 2008. Today we have 4,152 Members, increasing by 71% over 10 years and 30% in the last three. In the last ten years, we’ve sold 40 million tonnes of grain, exported 10 million tonnes to 36 countries, sold 1.5 million tonnes of fertiliser, 750,000 hectares of OSR seed and 134,000 tonnes of wheat seed. Our in-house fleet of modern trucks has covered 20 million miles, equivalent to 800 times round the world! 

As a co-operative, Openfield behaves differently. We add value to our member owners by being the marketing department for their farming businesses. Managing grain marketing risk is key as we reduce farmers’ exposure to national and global market volatility. We sell the right product, at the right specification, to the right location at the right time in the most efficient way possible. This links primary producers to some of the biggest names in the British food and drink industry.

To make all this happen we provide a wide range of careers and job opportunities for over 200 colleagues based in seven UK locations. Our values are: Integrity, Challenging, Accountable, Responsive and Engaged and these help shape our culture and support our 2020 vision delivery.

 

Co-operative Council of the Year

Sponsored by the Co-operative Councils' Innnovation Network (CCIN) this award recognises best practice as demonstrated by co-operative local authorities, celebrating great work delivered at a local level.  

Croydon Council

In the past year Croydon Council has implemented initiatives that have embedded cooperative principles into our working:

Our Community Strategy (2016-21) prioritises involving local people and groups in decision-making and the involvement of social enterprises in delivery. Our Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Strategy (2019-2023) was formulated through engagement with the sector. 

Community devolution has encouraged social partnership by empowering residents to engage in decision-making to produce effective community-led projects and promoting councilors as community leaders, as evidenced by the “We Love SE25” town team (slogan: “Taking Control of our Own Destiny”). Our community ward budgets, £8k per councillor, incentivise members to support local solutions.  

Value Croydon looks to maximise social value, e.g. job creation, through our supply chain opportunities for SMEs and social enterprises. We have Social Enterprise Place status. Our operating model, involving collaboration across sectors and co-production with residents to create bespoke locality services, has promoted innovative practices to meet community needs. 

We use co-production to enable citizens and groups to have a real say to drive impactful change on local priorities. We support a community-led, multi-agency model Community Connect/food stop.  Our award-winning One Croydon Alliance of voluntary and statutory sector partners is co-designing the Local Voluntary Partnerships model with the VCS. We are engaging residents on community-led housing schemes. We have transferred assets, e.g. Stanley Halls, to community groups.

Croydon’s success at putting cooperative values into practice showcases our commitment to the ideals and our belief that they can drive significant benefits across the local community.

Norwich City Council

Norwich City Council has been embedding co-operative ethos within its working and 2019 marks the year where much of this comes to fruition. Norwich was named the UK’s first Sharing City by the Sharing Cities Alliance in January in recognition. 

Get Involved was developed as a programme to give residents the support they need to run their own activities in neighbourhoods including creating new community groups, arranging litter picks and adopting neglected land, especially in deprived neighbourhoods. 

Rather than one programme, Get Involved is a series of inter-linked projects addressing different elements. Themed networking sessions are held for food and open spaces projects which more than seventy groups join. The food networking has seen several groups align to create the Norwich Food Poverty Alliance which the council are supporting to develop a food poverty action plan.  A Space, Skills and Stuff workshop has been developed to help communities identify their own assets which have helped everything from local area plans to designing the first city’s Disability Pride event. Plus creating a new community currency for Norwich and participatory budgeting campaigns to give residents a say in spending. 

The main project which links them all is LUMi (www.lumi.org.uk) – the council’s digital sharing platform.  Created in co-production with 90 local organisations, over a hundred organisations already use it to connect with each another, borrow equipment and post their activities. It has redefined the way the council interacts with residents and increased the cooperation between everyone in the city to tackle big issues.

Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes has always been a place of co-operation. Partnerships between public bodies, business and communities created a pioneering ‘new city’ - and help its people thrive today. The excellent team collaborates across and beyond the council to help citizens. Milton Keynes is an enthusiastic supporter of the Unison Ethical Care Charter and the National Pensioners Convention Dignity Code – and in 2019 became the best performing English council for work with NHS partners to tackle hospital discharge delays. The council embraced the Co-operative Party Charter against Modern Slavery and have been a Living Wage Employer since 2015, setting an example as MK’s second largest employer. 

With community support Milton Keynes Council invested in new facilities and funding when other councils were cutting back:

  • While 127 UK libraries closed, Milton Keynes built a new £1.2m library funded by developers, and signed up 6,000 new borrowers. Colleagues and volunteers helped extend hours  
  • The MK Community Foundation distributes the Community Capacity Fund to help grassroots groups 
  • The council invested £800,000 in co-operative homelessness partnerships and supported 100 rough sleepers off the streets for good
  • £1.2M to the MK Gallery helped unlock £10M to expand and upgrade 
  • £100,000 was given to help parish and town councils keep the environment clean (Milton Keynes was the first unitary authority to be fully parished).
  • The council partnered with Cranfield University to build a tech university sponsored by business; itself a result of 6,000 local conversations in our MK2050 futures programme 

In MK we do it best when working together.

Plymouth City Council

Plymouth is the first council committed to double the size of its co-operative economy – delivering on New Economic Foundation’s Co-operatives Unleashed report from the grass roots.

Its Corporate Plan is very much based on the Co-operative Values - with a mission of a fairer city where everyone does their bit; adopts values of democracy, responsibility, fairness, co-operation and promotes economic growth that benefits as many people as possible with a focus on quality jobs and valuable skills. 

An Action Plan to deliver this was adopted by the Council in November 2018 and builds on existing momentum, national and international co-operative activity and local economic strategy. Four Strategic Actions have been adopted: 

  • Create the right conditions for cooperative formation
  • Promote and support pathways into cooperation  for businesses
  • Scope and apply national cooperative strategies into a local context
  • Encourage and support cooperative approaches in the local wellbeing economy

Each is underpinned with finance, support and awareness activities to double the size of the local co-operative economy by 2025 through doubling the number of co-operatives, the turnover, the number of members and the number of employees. Examples of the Council’s recent support include:

  • Innovative Funding – social enterprise investment fund
  • Hosting staff – secondments and desk space at market cost 
  • Asset Transfer – community asset transfer
  • Community Wealth Building – local procurement power

Plymouth City Council plans to celebrate Co-op Fortnight and promote a Cooperative & Mutual Development fund, both of which will complement wider programmes such as iMayflower – Tourism/ Creative and Digital.

Rochdale Borough Council

Rochdale Borough Council (RBC) has undertaken an audit against Collaborate’s five foundations for co-operative councils, aligned with council priorities of 'People, Place and Prosperity'. RBC can demonstrate co-operative growth, place-based health, demand management, human capital and social capital.

Building local supply chains through procurement processes has seen RBC move council’s local spend from 12% to 23% within 12 months. The town already boasts over 30 co-operative organisations and RBC has plans for an enterprise hub to support further co-operative development. 

RBC has shifted health resources into community-based settings to deal with root causes of demand by empowering residents to make better choices through the co-operative values of self-help and responsibility. The value of solidarity and a shared pride in community assets underpins the relationship between volunteers and the council’s co-operative workforce in delivering the award-winning ‘In Bloom’ initiative.

Rochdale Parent Carers Voice work closely with the council to co-produce services for families that have children with disabilities, putting citizens at the heart of service improvement. RBC is mainstreaming Integrated Place Teams by funding dedicated officers, to continue building social capital in deprived areas and delivering cashable returns for every £1 spent, for the council and partners, through reduced crisis demand. 

RBC's leader Allen Brett drives the Greater Manchester portfolio for co-operatives, putting RBC in an enviable position to steer local and regional sector growth. RBC is currently exploring opportunities in social care and community-led housing. As the birth place of co-operation, Rochdale exhibits a culture of reciprocity with community champions, young campaigners, environmental activists and healthy heroes.

South Tyneside Council

In South Tyneside, people are passionate about their community and about their place. The #LoveSouthTyneside approach and campaign harnesses that passion to improve the area. Social media and networks generated through the campaign are utilised to share community pride and celebrate actions and initiatives that stem from the passion for South Tyneside - from celebrating local business-led community initiatives like beach-clean-ups and litter-picks, to collaborating with the NHS to support local employee recruitment campaigns.

South Tyneside Council strives to go beyond traditional co-operation. Its neighbourhood-level Community Area Forums are integral to resident engagement and across services from procurement to parks to flood management, the council makes sure it harnesses service-user perspectives to inform practice. Young Health Ambassadors have supported young people to work arm-in-arm with health professionals to develop and run campaigns relevant to their peers. The council's wildly successful ‘Mate Crime’ initiative harnessed the insight of people with disabilities, linking them to local film students to produce engaging digital resources that equipped vulnerable individuals and their communities to protect against online exploitation. 

The council proactively supports and empowers people to channel their passion into action. It promotes the local third sector, with initiatives like ‘volunteer passports’, the community funding portal and professional ‘speed-dating’ events aimed at facilitating close working across organisational boundaries. South Tyneside Council recently delivered what it believes is the largest community asset transfer programme in the country. Branch libraries and community associations that have been safeguarded through this process are now successfully securing external funding and expanding their community offers.

 

Co-operator of the Year 2019

This new award recognises inspirational UK-based co-operators who embody the co-operative values and principles. Nominations are open to anyone affiliated to a Co-operatives UK member.

Jonathan Atkinson

Jonathan is a serial co-operator - which is a good thing. His role at starting and continuing to drive alternatives to climate change in his role at the Carbon Co-op shows his true dedication to working co-operatively to battling climate change through retrofit and fuel poverty solutions is admirable. 

Jonathan's experience in helping others to set up co-operative ventures is also evident in his role helping George Street Community Books establish itself as a community asset - and successful share offer. Jonathan is also a really nice guy and is a great asset to the co-operative movement.

Mark Jennings

For the last year or so Mark Jennings has mentored the newly formed Cardif Taxi Co-operative. His help and support has been invaluable in both the planning and launch stages - and always remains always on hand for help or advice. 

His experience has truly been invaluable and without him it is doubtful whether the taxi co-operative would have launched on March 1.

Lorraine Power

Lorraine was new to co-operative working when she joined Leeds Bread Co-op about two years ago, but is an exemplar co-operator and a suberb colleague. She takes a compassionate but clear approach in her daily HR work and works incredibly hard to ensure that the co-op provides good, fair and equal employment for workers - fully embodying the co-op values.

Lorraine regularly goes above and beyond to ensure the highest standards are achieved both in her work and by supporting others, to help them learn and develop so they can be more actively involved in the workplace.

Over the last year or so, Lorraine has written and/or reviewed numerous policies and processes for the co-op to improve the workplace and the service provided to customers. She has also led a major change from hourly wages to a salaried pay system, involving implementing new rota and timesheet software and updating employment contracts, with the aim of improving working conditions while also helping make working practices more efficient, to free up more time for community-focused activities.

All the work Lorraine undertakes genuinely co-operative in nature, striking the difficult balance of autonomous and independant working with involving and consulting others, while sticking closely to Leeds Bread Co-op's consensus decision-making processes. All in all she is a great asset to LBC as well as being a super lovely person to be in a co-op with.

Cris Tomos

Cris is a true champion - inspiring a range of new co-operatives in west Wales. He was instrumental in setting up Hermon Community Resource Centre in 2008, when the local community purchased the old primary school to develop a community centre. There was little scope left in the village for people to come together to socialise as there was no village hall. However, Cris rallied the locals and a new society was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority ahead of a community shares issue.

The new society raised over £60,000 and bought the old school. Further expansion through grant funding has see a café, children’s nursery, three new businesses being established at the site - in all employing nine people where once there was a redundant old school. Cris went on to help establish a new co-operative in Cardigan Town, 4CG Cymru Ltd, ensuring that over £530,000 was raised with community finance to offer cheap car parking and start-up units in the town. This led to people coming back to shop on the high street.

Cris has also supported the development of two community owned pubs in the area, the first being Tafarn Sinc in the Preseli Hills which raised £410,000 of finance. Cris is also now the Chair of a community energy society with planning approval secured for a community wind turbine to be put up by the end of December 2019 - and finance in place to the tune of £1,300,000.

Britta Werner

In 2019 Brita will stand down after 12 years of continual service on the Worker Co-op Council and eight years on the Co-operatives UK Board. Between 2015 and 2018 she was the Vice Chair and is currently Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee. This is on top of her day job at Unicorn Grocery, where she plays a leading role in the personnel team among other responsibilities

Britta has put 'solidarity in co-operation' into practice by linking Unicorn with countless co-ops for mutual exchange and support, helping keep this principle high on the co-op's agenda. She advocates for worker co-operation and connects Unicorn to the wider co-operative world, in particular through her involvement with Co-operatives UK and initiatives such as establishing the Worker Co-op Weekend, where this year she will be leading a session on performance management.