Press release

Students in Birmingham launch first student housing co-op in the UK

 
It will provide affordable, democratically managed housing, close to the university, for nine students.
 
The first property in the UK to be run by a student housing co-operative will launch on 27th June. The property is located at 805 Pershore Road, Birmingham, and it will create democratically, community-centred affordable accommodation for nine students at the start of the next academic year.
 
The property is run by the Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative, which is a founding member of the national network of student co-operatives Students For Co-operation, and the first new student housing co-operative in the UK for many years. 
 
Helena Dunnett-Orridge, member of Students for Co-operation, said: “It’s been a two-year process to set up our co-operative. Due to the high price of housing and exploitative landlords who tend to prey on the transitory nature of student life with poor quality housing, it is especially important to create cheaper, more efficient ways of housing the student population.”
 
The house has been purchased by The Phone Co-op, an independent co-operative telecommunications provider. The Phone Co-op will be leasing it to the Student Housing Co-op on a long-term basis; the Student Housing Co-op will then rent the rooms to their members. Birmingham Co-operative Housing Services (BCHS) will provide management support. 
 
Vivian Woodell, CEO of The Phone Co-op, says: "It is very inspiring to see a new generation using the co-operative model to solve their problems. At the beginning of the year, The Phone Co-op supported Students for Co-operation’s founding conference with a grant drawn from our Co-operative and Social Economy Development Fund, and we are delighted to be helping the first student housing co-operative in Britain get started.” 
 
The Birmingham Student Housing Co-op is a member of Students for Cooperation, a new federation of over 25 student-run co-operatives across Britain. The network includes on-campus co-ops selling food, bike repair workshops, a swap and reuse hub, and two other housing co-ops which are close to opening – a similar sized property in Sheffield and a 106 bed complex in Edinburgh.
 
Mike Shaw, Network Coordinator for Students for Cooperation, explained: “Along with the student housing co-ops soon to open in Sheffield and Edinburgh, the progress made by Birmingham Student Housing Cooperative demonstrates that another way is possible for housing Britain's students – one that is affordable, empowering and free from landlord exploitation.”
 
“There is no reason why this model, which is so successful in many other parts of the world, can't work across the UK.”
 
He added “In time these co-ops hope to purchase their properties outright, allowing generations of students to benefit and for the movement to fund its own growth.”
 
The co-operative has received national coverage in The Guardian and is at the forefront of co-operative development in the U.K. Their previous attempts to get started stalled when they couldn’t raise finance to buy a property. The Phone Co-op’s involvement has made it possible for them to get started.
 
The open house launch event, co-organised by Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative, Birmingham Co-operative Housing Services and Co-operatives West Midlands, is an invitation for members of the local community and anyone with an interest in co-operatives to gain insight into a new and exciting venture within the co-operative movement and discover what it means to live without landlords. There will also be several local councillors, including ex-MEP, and current President of the International Co-operative Alliance Dame Pauline Green. 
 
The launch coincides with Co-operatives Fortnight 2014, the national campaign to promote co-operatives in the UK, and Co-operative Congress, which is held in Birmingham on 28th June. 
 
Venue:   805 Pershore Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham. 
Time:     2-6pm
 
Light snacks and refreshments will be provided