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Apply for support – existing co‑ops

Blake House Filmmakers Co-operative by Jana Lohde

Co‑ops that have been trading for two years or more – or those experiencing trading difficulties – can apply to The Hive for tailored support. Our expert advice will help you to sustain jobs, grow your membership, income or improve your profitability.

The Hive offers up to 10 days bespoke business support, mentoring and training to help existing co‑ops.

We are keen to support co-operatives who aim to develop, expand or improve their products or services and provide opportunities to scale up or replicate.

You may be filling a gap in the market, responding to market failure or creating alternative solutions to specific issues.

Quote mark
The Hive support helped us address areas we haven’t yet had chance to. It meant we could meet with members of design agency, Calverts, who work in different departments and basically troubleshooted our co-op with us.
– Simon Ball, Blake House Filmmakers Cooperative

Who can apply?

Support is available to:

  • Existing trading co‑ops can apply to get help to develop and grow their business.
    • We will support co-operatives who aim to develop, expand or improve their products or services and provide opportunities to scale-up or replicate.
  • Co-ops who are experiencing significant trading difficulties
    • Having to make a significant, rapid change to their business that is threatening its survival.
    • Having to adjust or ‘pivot’ the business model to respond to changing circumstances.

Existing co-ops need to have been trading for a minimum of 2 years or, for those facing difficulties, be able to provide at least the previous years financial accounts.

We welcome strong applications from all sectors and from all regions of the UK.

Below we outline specific criteria and objectives that we are looking to achieve and that will make your application for support even stronger.

Essential criteria

Your co-operative is based in the UK. This means that most of the beneficiaries for your co-op are in the UK and most of the value and benefit will be for those in the UK.

Your co-operative is a trading and sustainable business. By trading businesses, we mean you are not wholly dependent on charitable donations or grants and aim to sustain jobs, trading income and generate surplus.

Additional criteria

Co‑operatives from key sectors

The Hive welcomes strong applications from all sectors. However, we are particularly interested in applications if you are:

  • Creating fairer working conditions for freelance or casual workers, particularly in the ‘gig’ economy where work can be precarious.
  • Creating more collaborative digital and tech ownership models e.g. platform co‐ops (see also the UnFound programme)
  • Delivering improved health and social care provision.

What support is available?

Successful applicants will be offered a fantastic, bespoke package of up to 10 days support including some or all of the following:

Up to six days direct one-to-one support is on offer. 

The Hive has a network of expert co-operative development advisers who are contracted to deliver direct one-to-one advice based on the needs identified in a group or co-operative's application.

One-to-one support is currently limited to phone/video calls and email due to COVID, but does not impact the quality of support being delivered. 

Ways one-to-one support can help

  • A board or management level diagnostic review or action planning session. 
  • Developing strategies and action plans to help with sustaining jobs, growing the membership, improving trading income or profitability.
  • Adjusting or ‘pivoting’ the business model to respond to changing circumstances
  • Financial planning or re-modelling including community share offers to recapitilise the co-op
  • Financial literacy training for directors to improve decision-making
  • HR advice including redundancy advice
  • Review of governance arrangements including membership offer, Society Rules


We will agree outputs with you if your application is successful. They will vary for each group. but they could include:

  • Number of business, strategic or financial plans reviewed or revised

  • Board members trained, new systems and processes.

  • New premises (asset transfer).

  • New community share offers and £amount raised.

  • Number of people benefiting from skills training / peer mentor support.

  • Improved turnover, profitability, financial stability

  • Number of new employees, members.

  • Number of new clients, customers, products, services, markets.

*These are indicative outputs and will vary with each group. The exact outputs will be agreed with you if your application for support is successful.

One in‐house training session* is on offer, to be delivered to your board or management committee. This will be determined by the support needs identified in your application as well as further dialogue with The Hive team.

The focus of the training session will be flexible but is likely to address areas relating to governance (new director / board training, how to manage conflict), membership or understanding your co-op's finances.

* Training is currently only being delivered online due to Covid-19, but this does not impact the quality of support being delivered. 

Up to three days mentoring is on offer where a group or co-operative is matched with another, more established and experienced co‐operative. The content of support is agreed between you and your peer mentor.

Peer mentoring is currently limited to phone/video calls and email due to Covid-19, but does not impact the quality of support being delivered.

Mentor co-operatives need to be a Co-operatives UK member. We will be able to advise about this if your application is successful.

How to apply
Check if you're eligible then start your application!

How long do applications take to be assessed?

There are two stages when applying to The Hive.

Step 1: Eligibility checker 

Applicants complete an initial eligibility checker. If the applicant is able to demonstrate that they meet our minimum eligibility, they will be directed to the page to complete the full application. This does not collect any information or data from the applicant – it is a self-assessment.

Step 2: Application form

Applicants complete the full application, where questions relate to your support needs.


The Hive is open to applications all year round with applications reviewed at monthly panel assessment meetings. We aim to notify applicants of the outcome within two weeks of a monthly panel meeting, which means that the maximum amount of time an applicant will have to wait for a decision following submission is eight weeks.

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