The shortlist for the Inspiring Co-operative of the Year Award 2017: Balsall Heath Housing Co-operative, Developer Society, Naked Lunch Cafe, New Leaf Co-op.
Balsall Heath Housing Co-operative
Balsall Heath Housing Co-op (BHHC) has been in existence for 40 years, providing affordable housing to people in housing need in line with the co-operative principles and values. During the past 12 months, BHHC has looked at new and innovative ways of engaging with their tenants to increase tenant participation.
For a number of years BHHC had a run down, dilapidated community room which was only used once a month for their committee meetings. The committee decided that they would like to make more use of their community room and decided to organise a weekly coffee morning with an open invitation to all of their tenants. A working party consisting of tenants was formed to clean out and revamp the unused community room. A tenant from the co-op liaised with representatives from Selly Manor Museum (part of the George Cadbury Estate) and successfully secured a large number of comfortable banqueting chairs. These chairs were donated to the housing co-op free of charge and were used to replace the old brown plastic chairs. The revamped community room is now open to tenants every Saturday between 12pm and 3pm as a 'Saturday Cafe' and is being well used by tenants who have had little or no involvement with the housing co-op in the past.
In February 2016, BHHC also organised an informal 'meet and greet' event for all their tenants. The event provided tenants with the opportunity to meet members of the committee. The event was held on the same evening as the General Meeting and in the past only a small number of tenants have attended. On this occasion over 25 tenants were in attendance who were able to engage informally with committee members. The co-op is currently in the process of planning an event to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Richard Green, Communities Officer from Bchs, said: "The work that BHHC is doing to engage and increase tenant participation is fantastic. It is great to see so many new tenants getting involved and being part of their community."
The Developer Society (DEV) www.dev.ngo is the world’s first team of developers and campaigners run by and for the not for profit sector. After running a highly successful digital agency for six years, 2017 saw two young entrepreneurs, Steve Hawkes and Paul Evans, morph their business into a multi-stakeholder Community Benefit Society with the help of the consultancy.coop and Co-operatives UK. The team at DEV are now driven by the needs of the not for profit sector and governed by the workforce and their NGO partners.
With the mission of making access to the world’s best technology and digital expertise available to anyone working for good, DEV are working to change the world for the better and have committed their entire business to that cause. Ultimately, they’ve chosen to measure their careers in terms of impact on people’s lives not on balance sheets. Using their passion and skill for tech development to empower non-profits to have more impact, DEV are already working with some of the world’s biggest charities such as Oxfam, Save The Children, Macmillan Cancer Support and medics in Syria, but that’s just the start.
Their dream is to make the world’s most powerful technology available to all organisations and groups working to make positive change - regardless of size, budget or location. By voting for them to be Co-operative of the Year you’ll be helping the Developer Society reach more organisations who need their help and, ultimately, helping change more lives.
Naked Lunch Cafe
The Naked Lunch cafe is a new, vibrant and award winning co-op on Smithdown Road in Liverpool. After the previous owner became seriously ill, Paul Tsanos decided to rally the community to give him a break. It turned into a force of nature with fantastic award winning food, great coffee and interesting live music events. The community has been overwhelmingly supportive, investing thousands of pounds in the co-op through a community share issue. It’s now a well-run new co-operative business which is growing a great reputation in and outside of Liverpool.
The Naked Lunch team have done a wonderful job transforming the identity of the area with their French-style cafe and helping to push regeneration by creating full and part time jobs while educating the local community about working co operatively. Since then, hundreds more people have been interested and even started more co-operative businesses along the same streets and in the local area. If ever the was an example of a truly inspiring co-operative business it is embodied in all the hard work and dedication showed by the Naked Lunch team and its members.
Naked Lunch Cafe has started a new co-operative movement in Liverpool. By organising, mobilising and engaging their community they have created a creative, commercial and fantastic new cafe in a struggling area of Liverpool.
Website: Naked Lunch Facebook page
New Leaf Co-op
New Leaf is a small retailer in Edinburgh making a big impact. They are young people who are driven to improve both themselves and each other. Taking initiative by using the resource of other co-ops they are constantly looking to improve their co-op and make others aware of what they do. Involved in the Edinburgh Co-op movement thery are a key promoter of the co-op ethos in the city, spreading the message of democracy in the workplace and blogging about the impact of big business in the community.
As with any co-op they are open to help others. In a previous job I constantly sent people to New Leaf for advice; they are a small co-op but never turned anyone away or complained about me sending people to them.
One of the biggest factors in this nomination is their passion for social responsibilty. In the five years I have known the co-op they have supported numerous third sector businesess. They have taken products from charities and social enterprises repsecting the need to promte fairness in society. They promote health and well being through selling a high percentage of organic products, in doing so they support small local farmers. They also source through other co-ops, like Greencity Wholefoods and Suma.They are fantastic people and an absoloute credit to the co-operative movement.