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How co-ops can empower communities


Start date / time
Monday 21 November 2022, 1:00pm
End date / time
Monday 21 November 2022, 2:00pm
Organised by
Co-operatives UK
Event type
Webinar series – discover the power of co-ops

An opportunity for groups and individuals across the UK to discover the power of co‑ops to strengthen communities.

About the webinar

One of a series of webinars brought to you by Cooperatives UK in partnership with The Co‑operative Bank as part of The Hive programme which supports new and existing coops.

The last decade has seen an increase in the number of community owned co‑ops across the UK. Co‑ops are democratic businesses that allow local communities to take control of the services and spaces that matter most to them. They enable people to pool resources to trade goods and services that benefit the community. 

Join us for this webinar to discover:

  • How local people can form co‑ops to create solutions that meet their needs and enrich and revitalise their neighbourhoods.
  • The important role co‑operatives can play in strengthening communities, creating wealth locally and enabling people to have greater control over what happens in their area or community of interest. 
  • The benefits of the co‑op model for empowering people at grass roots level.
  • How communities can come together to take control of local assets. 

Hosted by John Dawson from the Community Shares Unit at Co-operatives UK, the webinar will hear from members of a number of organisations that are benefitting local communities as well as communities of interest:

  • James Hartley, CEO of LATCH (Leeds Action to Create Homes), which refurbishes derelict and run‑down houses in Leeds.
  • Sarah Batten, founding co-director of The Exchange in Erith, a community‑owned community hub with a year-round programme of workshops and events.
  • Andy Walsh, Head of National Game and Community Ownership at the Football Supporters Association.


  • An online one-hour webinar on Zoom
  • Presentations from the host and speakers 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
  • Co‑op values and principles
  • The economic, social and personal benefits of running a co‑op business
  • How to decide if a co‑op is the right business model for you
  • What support is available for those wishing to set up a co-op from the business support programme delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank 

Who should attend?

Anyone who’s keen to learn more about co‑operatives, this includes:

  • Communities exploring whether a community enterprise model is suitable for their situation
  • Groups looking to set up a community enterprise to save or maintain a community asset
  • Community groups and businesses looking to join forces with other similar organisations
  • New start-ups and young businesses
  • Anyone wanting to learn more about co‑ops: business advisors, community leaders, voluntary sector support agencies, etc. 

About the speakers

John Dawson is Head of Market Development and Investment at the Community Shares Unit, which is based at Co-operatives UK. He has a long history of working with community businesses and helping them to raise finance and plan business growth. John has previously worked on community share offers and community shares standard mark assessments as a licensed community shares practitioner. Prior to joining the Community Shares Unit, he worked for the funder Power to Change Trust.

James Hartley is CEO of LATCH (Leeds Action to Create Homes), an organisation that refurbishes derelict and run-down houses in the Chapeltown, Harehills and Burley areas of Leeds. He originally trained as a bricklayer and is experienced in all areas of construction. James joined LATCH in 1998 and has worked in volunteer management, repairs and maintenance, fundraising and financial management. As well as refurbishing long-term empty properties, LATCH provides housing and support to homeless people and delivers training and volunteering programmes for young people.

Sarah Batten is founding co-director of The Exchange in Erith, a cultural/social organisation, empowering local people “to make and make things happen.” Founded by local residents in 2017, members of The Exchange raised over £3.6m to turn a once derelict space into a community hub with a year-round programme of workshops and events. Previously a library and museum, it is now a space that celebrates and restores local craft and empowers people to make the change they want to see on their doorstep.

Andy Walsh is Head of National Game and Community Ownership at the Football Supporters Association. He has wide experience of supporter organisations, as a former chair of the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association. He was a founder member and general manager of supporter-owned FC United of Manchester. During his time at FC United, the team enjoyed on-field success, earning four promotions, and moved into their first permanent home, Broadhurst Park.

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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