Discover the Leicestershire co‑op that makes a huge difference in people’s lives – and ensures its worker members share in its success…
One of a series of case studies produced by Co-operatives UK as part of The Ownership Hub programme, in partnership with the Employee Ownership Association. The Ownership Hub is working with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to highlight the benefits of employee and worker owned businesses.
A co-operative since its inception in 1994, Shepshed Carers was founded as a business that belongs to the workforce with no outside shareholders.
The not-for-profit organisation provides local home care services to people in Shepshed, Coalville, Whitwick and the surrounding villages in Leicestershire.
The team supports people with dementia, mental health conditions, physical disabilities, sensory impairments and specialised nutritional needs. They work both with private clients and through a contract with Leicestershire County Council.
With 51 worker members, many of them long-serving, Shepshed Carers was set up as a co‑operative to ensure that any surplus earned is distributed amongst them, as opposed to shareholders.
“Once someone has passed their six-month probation, we ask them to become a member of the co‑op,” explains Lee Sanders, Shepshed Carers Director and Company Secretary. “And the main thing is, if we make a profit, we share it out between our members.”
Being a co‑op also gives the worker members a say in how the business is run. “We have four meetings a year to discuss company business and vote on important decisions,” Lee adds.
“We aim to ensure we include everyone in the voting – on things such as uniform, and most recently on how and when platinum jubilee bank holiday payments would be issued.”
Another way Shepshed Carers ensures its members have a voice is by giving them the chance to take part in annual ‘competency votes.’ “The staff get to vote on the competency of the directors and co‑ordinators to make sure we are carrying out our jobs properly,” Lee explains.
“If we get low votes, it’s a good way of seeing if there are any issues we can work through. It’s something I’d recommend for all co‑ops – those in charge need to be voted on and held accountable. It keeps me on my toes!”
So does Lee think that by giving members a share of the profits and a say in the business, it improves the service Shepshed Carers provides? “Yes, and we do get very good feedback from clients and clients’ families. We’ve recently done a client survey and we got a positive response.
“The care sector can get a bad press – the media often focuses on the horror stories of people stealing from clients. It gives it a negative perception.
“People can sometimes be wary of letting carers into their homes. But once they’ve been with us a few weeks and months, they realise it’s completely different to what they first thought it was going to be.”
For Lee, who came to Shepshed Carers from an engineering background, being part of a co‑op means working in a more harmonious environment. “Everywhere I worked before this, in factories, there was always a big divide between the bosses and the workers.
“You don’t get that here. The co-ordinators go out and provide care as well – and mix with other staff. It’s more family oriented than other workplaces I’ve experienced.”
Find out more
- Shepshed Carers – Website | Facebook
- If you’re based in South Yorkshire and would like to talk to someone about starting a worker or employee owned business, get in touch with the Ownership Hub.
- Find out about The Ownership Hub programme, in partnership with Employee Ownership Association, and its work with South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.
- Our Step by Step Tool is a great free resource to help work your way through the steps of planning and starting a new co-op.