Your story of co-operation: some inspiration

This Co-operatives Fortnight – 17 June to 1 July - we are encouraging people to share their stories of how working together has made a difference. It’s a fantastic way to remind people about why co-operation is so important.

Why not take the opportunity to share your co-op’s story? Explaining what you do and why you do it is enough to make people stop and think, to inspire people. Simply create your story, post it on your website and then share it via social media using the hashtag #coopstories

Here are some written examples of stories of co-operation to get you thinking. Or, if you’re feeling creative, you could create a short film – maybe like this fun one from Unicorn?

 

GlenWyvis Distillery

Whisky is big business in Scotland but with no community owned distillery in existence we set about creating one.

Community ownership of local assets is hitting new heights. What traditionally had been the domain of local pubs and shops now encompasses piers, lidos, harbours and more. Over £30m was raised in community share offers in 2015 – and the thirst for local ownership is now set to break new ground as it enters the world of Scotch whisky.

With support from Community Shares Scotland we raised more than £500,000  in just weeks as the local population backed our bid to become the very first community-owned craft whisky distillery not just in Scotland – but in the world. Using green energy produced onsite and barley from Highland Grain Farmers' Co-operative, the ethos of community and co-operation is ingrained in our project.

“From the outset we have envisaged the project as more than a distillery. It is an opportunity for all social investors to help reinvigorate the historic town of Dingwall. GlenWyvis will be built on its whisky heritage, its community-ownership and its environmental credentials." John Mckenzie, founder member

 

Arla’s farmers

A challenging climate, such as low milk prices, is creating difficult conditions for dairy farmers nationwide. As a co-operative owned by 12,700 farmers, 3,000 of whom are British, Arla has a unique understanding not only of the challenges this brings, but has the strength of our membership to provide innovative solutions.

To boost returns for our farmer owners, Arla is focused on innovation through new products from the milk they supply and work hard to ensure that consumers are aware that we are owned and run by farmers through the introduction of our new ‘farmer owned’ marque.

“Being an Arla farmer owner is a great source of strength to me, especially during tough times. It gives me the confidence to continue investing in my dairy farm and helps me plan for long term. I have a clear say in how much I’m paid for my milk and help elect the Board of Representatives, Arla’s decision making body. What’s more, Arla guarantees to take every drop of milk I produce so I can continue to grow.” Arthur Fearnell, 8th generation farmer and Arla member.

 

Swindon Music Co-operative

Unlike many in our profession, we music teachers often have precarious jobs as self-employed workers contracted by schools and local authorities. To create security for ourselves around 20 music teachers in Swindon set up a co-op in 1998. It's purpose was to o our admin and promote our services – so we could concentrate on what we do best, helping children to learn to play music.

Our membership has steadily grown to over 50 teachers and the co-operative now provides instrumental and singing lessons to more than 1,400 pupils in over 70 local primary and secondary schools.

“We work in partnership with local schools and deliver tuition during the school day, but most of our contracts are directly with parents. As our teachers are self-employed, we are able to run our business at minimal cost which enables us to maintain affordable prices.” Janet Hodgson, Swindon Music Co-operative Director

Swindon Music Co-operative was one of the early trailblazers. Now there are music co-operatives operating across the UK, from Milton Keynes to Newcastle.

“There’s training, development, mentoring, a network of like-minded teachers and a sense of working in a community who understand the situation of music teaching in schools in Swindon.” Debbie Matthews, Woodwind and piano teacher