Cardiff Council has been named as the first ever Co-operative Council of the Year, alongside The Foster Care Co-operative, Midcounties Co-operative and The Service who have all scooped prestigious Co-operative of the Year Awards.
A record 33,000 votes were cast in the national awards, organised by Co-operatives UK and supported by the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, with nominations and votes coming from large and small businesses across the sector. The awards were announced at the start of Co-operatives Fortnight (23 June to 7 July) which raises awareness of the valuable contribution that co-ops make to the UK economy and the communities in which they are based.
Councillor Sharon Taylor OBE, Chair of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network and Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: "The CCIN is delighted to once again sponsor the Co-operative of the Year Awards which showcase the diversity and success of the UK co-operative sector. We represent 22 co-operative councils from across the UK, who are driving global municipal co-operative policy development. These Awards highlight what can be achieved when people work together to build a better world and it is a privilege for CCIN to continue our association with Co-operatives UK in such an exciting way.
"Congratulations to the worthy winners: The Service, Foster Care Co-operative, Midcounties Co-operative and of course to Cardiff Council who won the inaugural Co-operative Council of the Year Award; and well done to all the other nominees who are all driving the UK’s co-operative economy."
The Service, a London-based production company that brings together like-minded production creatives with a love for social impact, the arts and creative collaboration took home the Breakthrough Co-op of the Year Award, open to co-ops with a turnover of under £1m.
"This is the first award we have won that recognises our work as a co-op, as well as our creative approach to doing businesses. We are totally thrilled by this and incredibly proud to be a part of the co-operative movement. A huge thank you to all our collaborators and clients, in particular to VSO International for nominating us." Louise Stevens, Creative Director of The Service
Inspiring Co-op of the Year was won by the Foster Care Co-operative. As the only not-for-profit co-operative operating in foster care in the UK, it ploughs surplus income into training and support for carers. The co-operative model enables the organisation to instigate change quickly and efficiently to be responsive to the direct needs of carers and children. This approach has proved successful as the stability rate of placed children in their care is six times the national average.
"We are delighted that the hard work, care and commitment from the Foster Carers, children and staff have been recognised through the award for most inspiring Co-op. It is a testament to their dedication in ensuring better outcomes for children in need of care whilst keeping values based on Integrity, Ethics, Quality and Co-operation." Ian Brazier, Foster Care Co-operative Executive Director
Midcounties Co-operative scooped Leading Co-op of the Year - a hotly contested category open to co-operatives with a turnover of over £30m. Midcounties was recognised for its work supporting the communities in which it trades, last year raising over £150,000 for its local charity partner and working with over 9,000 young people at 50 partner schools. Its employees volunteered a combined 36,000 hours while the society distributed £260,000 to over 500 good causes.
"As a member owned Society this award is particularly important to us because it was voted for by our members. We have been previously voted Co-operative of the Year twice in 2012 and 2015, so I want to say a particularly big thank to everyone who helped us achieve the hat-trick in 2018." Ben Reid, Group Chief Executive, Midcounties Co-operative
Co-operative Council of the Year went to Cardiff Council. The local authority uses co-operative approaches to inform and shape responses to numerous challenges. It has reduced the number of young people not in education, employment or training from 9% to 2.3%, and has been recognised for its employee engagement and is a Living Wage Champion.
"I am delighted the council has been recognised for the great co-operative work going on across the authority and in the city. We know that we don't have a monopoly on good ideas so by working with partners - whether it's residents or local businesses, and encouraging everyone to contribute, we can focus our joint energies and creativities on a particular issue." Councillor Peter Bradbury, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Cardiff Council