Press release

Innovative social care enterprise wins national ‘co-op pitches’ competition

A ground-breaking approach to social care has won the national ‘Co-op Pitches’  competition, offering a new model that can give carers and users of social care services a voice.

Co-op Pitches is a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style contest for new co-operative enterprise that took place at Co-operatives UK’s annual conference, Congress.

CareShare, a fledgling co-operative, offers an innovative approach to social care that aims to match workers and carers. Rather than the people being supported feeling out of control, the co-op will allow them and their families to choose who cares for them. And instead of care workers having no say over their work, they will be able to choose the kind of work they do, who they support and whether or not they want to be self-employed or opt for the security of formal employment.

 "I want the most important people – the givers and users of care – to be in charge and to reap the benefits."

Most importantly, CareShare puts peer support at the heart of its work – people who receive care can also offer support themselves and be fairly rewarded for the skills and experience they share with others. The approach is based around an online platform that will allow care workers, care users and their families to work together and achieve high quality, decently paid care.

The founder of CareShare – Emma Adelaide Back – pitched the idea, which is still in its infancy, to the full conference along with two other shortlisted enterprises. She explained how it would work and took questions from a panel and the floor, before the choice of winner was put to the vote by all delegates at the event.

Emma, who has a background in community development, mental health and advocacy services, said:

“I feel so honoured to win this competition, it was a heady experience to pitch to such an incredible audience of co-operators and innovators. CareShare is in the very early stages and this win has been a fantastic vote of confidence for the idea. I’m now hunting for fellow co-operators to join me on this journey.

“I want to stop our public funds for social care flowing into the hands of shareholders and investors that are a far remove from the front-line. I want the most important people – the givers and users of care – to be in charge and to reap the benefits from this. This doesn’t only mean the money stays with them, it means people become much healthier and happier too.”

As the winning pitch, CareShare will receive £2,000 from the Co-op Pitches’ sponsors Co-op Insurance, plus business support from The Hive. As Dave Hampson of Co-op Insurance which sponsored the pitches, says:

“I’m delighted for that the CareShare team. In addition to this investment, they had the opportunity to share their ideas with a range of co-operative entrepreneurs involved in enterprise and co-operative investment. There were people from large businesses there, tech and web development co-ops, local authorities – just the kind of people that co-operative entrepreneurs need to hear about their idea.”

Up against CareShare were two other fledgling co-ops. The Bristol Gym Co-operative offers an alternative to the corporate gym facilities, with a member-led, inclusive gym. Woodhouse Community Growers is a new co-op aiming to bring together food producers and community gardens in Leeds. Both of the runners up also received £1,000 in support from Co-op Insurance after the sponsors were left so impressed with their pitches.

“The co-op sector is buzzing with ideas and innovations. The Co-op Pitches are a fun way to showcasing what’s coming through and helping kick-start some fantastic new enterprises like CareShare that are offering much-needed solutions to parts of our economy that need reimagining.”  Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK