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Freelancers unite! The power of co-ops and joint working


Start date / time
Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2:00pm
End date / time
Wednesday 12 January 2022, 3:00pm
Organised by
Co-operatives UK
Event type
Graphic for workshop featuring people at work on computers

An opportunity for freelancers in any sector to discover how joining forces makes good business sense. 

One of a series of webinars brought to you by The Hive, a programme of support for new and existing coops delivered by Cooperatives UK in partnership with The Cooperative Bank.

About the webinar

According to the latest official figures, there are some 5 million self-employed people in the UK – more than at any time since records began. That’s 15% of the workforce.

While many enjoy the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, for others, being self-employed is a necessity due to unemployment, falling job quality and precarious working contracts.

Whatever their reasons, the self-employed have this in common: they’re more likely to have unstable incomes and to miss out on social protections such as pensions, insurance and sick pay.

But there is a way to enjoy a thriving, autonomous and secure career: co-ops. Forming a co-op makes good business sense. Freelancers who’ve joined forces to set up co-ops have benefitted in many ways – from sharing costs, skills, knowledge and risk, to gaining new opportunities and enjoying peer support.

Co-ops enable members to have control over and access to fairer, more decent work, as well as a share of the profits. 

By coming together, freelancers can bid for larger scale tenders, gain access to new markets and innovate through sharing creative ideas. They can pool resources, build greater brand recognition and increase efficiency. And there’s more than one way to do it: 

  • Forming as a co-op of freelancers where they have shared ownership but retain their autonomy
  • Forming a new co-op, such as a worker co-op, where they become co-owners of the same business

Join this webinar to find out more about the benefits of joint working. You’ll hear from members of three co-ops that were formed to empower freelancers: 

  • Aysha Haq from Chapel Street Studio – a co-operative of creative freelancers in Bradford
  • Steven Flower, a founder member of Open Data Services, a worker co-op that was formed when freelance analysts and IT professionals joined forces to create open data standards and tools
  • John Gibson, a founder member of Felt Nowt Productions, a co-op of stand-up comedians in the North East of England

Co-operatives UK's Petra Morris will also introduce The Hive business support initiative and explain the support available for starting a co-op. 


  • An online one-hour webinar on Zoom
  • Presentations from Aysha, Steven and John, with an opportunity to ask questions at the end

How much does it cost?

This webinar is FREE to everyone who wants to attend.

What attendees will learn:

  • What a co-operative is and the purpose of co-ops
  • The co-operative principles
  • The economic, social, personal and business benefits of forming a co-op business for freelancers
  • How to decide if a co-op is the right business model for you
  • What support is available from The Hive business support programme for those wishing to set up a co-op

Who should attend?

  • Freelancers in any field or sector who are keen to learn more about co-operatives and joint working 
  • People and groups looking to start-up a business
  • Anyone wanting to learn more about co-ops: business advisors, local authorities, community leaders, voluntary sector support agencies, etc

About the speakers

Aysha Haq is Agency Lead and Digital Marketing Consultant at Chapel Street Studios – a co-operative agency of freelancers and small businesses collaborating to provide a wide range of specialist creative services. These include web development, branding, design, photography, social media, marketing strategy and more. Aysha has worked for clients in a wide range of sectors, including the Google Digital Garage project.

Steven Flower co-founded Open Data Services Co-operative in 2015, alongside three other freelancers who wanted to combine working in open data with an equitable business model. Open Data Services provides consultancy, support and software covering all areas of open data. In his time at Open Data Services, Steven has led support for the 360 Giving Data Standard and the development of the International Aid Transparency Initiative Data Standard.

John Gibson is a director of Felt Nowt Productions – a co-op of comedians that was set-up to grow the comedy circuit in the North East and create more work for stand-ups from the region. He’s a comedian and writer. And, as a professional programme and project manager, John has over two decades of experience across a number of key sectors, including manufacturing, travel and government. 

Recording the webinar

This webinar will be recorded. We will share the recording with participants shortly afterwards. This webinar is part of a series. If you cannot attend this one, we hope you can join us for another webinar. Alternatively, visit our step by step: start a co-op tool or read about the business support available to start-up co-ops.

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