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Supporting fair and ethical business in partnership with The Co-operative Bank
Business Support for Co-ops – peer mentor handbook

Introduction

About the peer mentoring support

Peer mentors have been through the process of setting up a co-operative or community business and are able to provide groups with moral support, help with ideas-generation and act as a sounding board. Peer mentoring support is available for co-ops and community businesses at various stages of development, from business planning to setting up as a co-op. In this context, the term ‘mentoring’ describes a relationship in which an organisation (via the key people in it) is supported through a learning or developmental journey. It’s about reflecting, encouraging and supporting the new or existing enterprise to make the most of its potential.

Peer support from another co-op

Peer support is a great opportunity for new or existing co-ops to learn from those that have been in their position before. Peer mentors will have the lived experience of starting a co-op and getting it up and running and can offer insight into the challenges they might encounter and how to overcome them. Groups can get into the details of running the business or simply visit the mentoring organisation’s premises to get a sense of their day-to-day activities.

Half day peer support

Successful groups can receive half a day of peer-support with an existing co-op. Once we have assigned a co-op for peer support, it will be up to both parties to define how to best make use of this time. It can take the form of a few informal chats, sharing of useful documents or a visit to the co-op. We can also fund some travel. The aim is that they can learn from people who have set up their own co-op and been through similar experiences.

Applicants can suggest the co-op they would like to be paired with, or they can leave it to the programme team to propose the most appropriate co-op. Groups can find other co-ops by exploring our directory of co-ops. If the application is successful, we will make every effort to allocate groups to their preferred co-op. However, we reserve the right to offer an alternative based on availability, geography, skills and experience.

Reporting and payment

When you have completed the mentoring support with your client, please contact the Business support team at Co-operatives UK.

You will be sent an email containing a unique URL to complete an online survey. This is your opportunity to advise how the support was delivered, what went well, what could have been better and the impact of the support.

Once you have submitted your completed report you will be sent an automatic link to submit your invoice for the work undertaken, you should therefore prepare invoices for the work in advance of completing the form and have it to hand. At the same time, your client group will also be sent a report to provide feedback on the support received and specific impacts.

Payment terms

30 days, unless otherwise indicated