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Two UK co-operatives to star in feature-length TV documentary

News item

26th February 2024
Last updated
8th March 2024
Equal Care Co-op
Equal Care Co-op – the UK’s first platform-based social care and support co-operative

Equal Care Co-op and Suma have been selected from thousands of co-ops across the UK to star in a documentary highlighting the power of co-operative businesses. 

Two "revolutionary" co-operatives have been chosen to star in a feature-length TV documentary to be aired across Europe.

Equal Care Co-operative and Suma, both from West Yorkshire, were selected ahead of thousands of co-operatives from across the UK. The pair will feature alongside co-operatives from mainland Europe, with filming set to take place later this year (2024). The documentary will be pitched to broadcasters in countries across the continent.

The project is a collaboration between Co-operatives UK, the Ivano Barberini Foundation, collective, Cooperative College and film production company Ladoc. It will showcase the transformative nature of co-operatives, with life-changing impact on individuals and communities.

Equal Care Co-op founder Emma Back said: "We think this could open a lot of eyes to the power of co-operatives to challenge the status quo and bring lasting, meaningful change to the sectors they operate in. In our case, it can shed light on the power of co-operative care and the positive changes it brings to the lives of caregivers, care users and their families."

Equal Care Co-op proudly claims the title of the UK’s first platform-based social care and support co-operative. Its online platform, collaboratively developed with and owned by their members, empowers the people receiving support to build and manage their own team.

Emma said: "We believe in empowering both care workers, family members and people receiving care; rebalancing the broken and exploitative power dynamics that exist in most of the care sector. This documentary can showcase how our co-operative model fosters a sense of dignity, respect, and true partnership in care."

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For us, it's crucial to get people interested in what we do because we truly believe that this is how care should be done! We want the entire sector to be redesigned around these principles - a task that demands other people to take note and take action. By highlighting our success, we hope to inspire others to embrace co-operative principles and create similar positive change in their communities.
– Emma Back, Founder of Equal Care Co-op

Suma, in Elland, is the biggest equal pay co-operative in Europe. The wholesaler, which delivers more than 7,000 vegetarian, natural, responsibly sourced products to businesses and communities across the UK and internationally, is completely owned and controlled by its workforce.

Suma worker Ash Barrow said: "There’s never before been a point in my life where I’ve been proud to talk about where I worked, and now I can’t shut up about Suma! I’m excited to see what this documentary can achieve. I don’t want to go into this with unrealistic expectations but, without being too dramatic, learning about co-ops and finding out there was another way changed my life."

Fellow worker-owner, Christopher Roseby-Bunce, said: "It’s important to reveal the realities of what Suma is able to achieve as a worker co-op and that other approaches to work can be successful. Suma has, and will continue to demonstrate, that work is about both putting in and taking out, for not only oneself, but the greater good of all those in proximity. People need to see that with co-operation, you can have not just the bread, but the roses too!"

Suma Wholefoods
Suma – the biggest equal pay co-operative in Europe

The UK's co-operatives were invited to submit applications to be part of the documentary. Shortlisted co-operatives took part in casting sessions at Co-op Congress in 2023, with Equal Care Co-op and Suma coming out tops from a high quality field.

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: "This documentary could be a game-changer, reaching new audiences through telling brilliant stories. Equal Care Co-op and Suma are both amazing businesses, with people at their heart. We've incredible co-operatives operating across the UK, doing great things every day."

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Co-operatives are resilient, effective, job creators, with huge potential to fix broken systems like care, housing and energy. But people, generally, know very little about co-ops. That has to change if we're to create a fairer society that does more for people and communities.
– Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

The documentary is the brainchild of media co-operative Pre-production began earlier this month with some early stage filming taking place at both Equal Care Co-op and Suma. Sara Vicari, co-founder of, said: "Co-operatives can be a powerful means to solve many of the issues the global society is facing, and for the young generation even an opportunity to reimagine a new world, fairer and more sustainable.

"The co-ops we have chosen are really revolutionary. They have been proving that it is possible to reverse power relations and put at the centre of the scene workers and users, while still being profitable. That's a key message. It is indeed possible to be a builder of economic, social, and environmental justice as they are."

West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, has hailed the co-operative trailblazers. She said: “In West Yorkshire we have a proven history of working in collaboration and I am committed to building on those foundations to create a brighter and prosperous region that works for all.”

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It is great to see co-operatives in our region being celebrated for their important work. Co-operation is undoubtedly the way forward for communities and businesses to thrive, which is why it’s so important to support those working in this way.
– Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin
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