Ways Forward 3 – A New Era for Co-operative Development

I had the pleasure of speaking at this Conference, organised by Co-operative Business Consultants on Jan 23rd at the Central Hall in Manchester, which was attended by 88 people, including a number by video link from Italy, France, Argentina, USA and Quebec.

My presentations are as below:-

Co-operative Development

Social Care Co-operatives

See more presentations on the CBC Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cooperativebusinessconsultants

Everyone’s Business

The Wales Co-operative Centre have started a new blog, looking at issues of poverty in Wales

The blog is now up and running on http://www.everyonesbusiness.coop/en/

My contribution is as below:-

Co-operating for self-employment

Nothing overcomes poverty better than well-paid work. It not only provides income, but it helps to develop people’s sense of self worth. A job provides our sense of identity. Even when unemployed we desire to be an unemployed something, not just a non-entity.

The fastest growing sector of our economy is the self-employed. Once derided by business development specialists as “lifestyle businesses” self employment is rapidly becoming a very large part of our economy. Continue reading

ProMo-Cymru celebrates 30 years

ProMo-Cymru, the youth co-operative development agency, recently held a celebration of 30 years of operation at a small event in the Cardiff Story Museum, where an exhibition of their history is on show until February 2015.

The video below has been produced as part of the 30 years celebration and brings together some of the people from the past together with those still involved now:-

I joined the original working group, which was set up by Cllr John Reynolds, Alun Michael, John Southern and Sheila Rees in 1982, and after the first AGM I attended, I was appointed Vice Chair under John Reynolds. Cardiff & Vale Co-operative Development Association was registered as a Company Ltd by Guarantee in 1984, and traces its official history from that point. Continue reading

Walking the Camino

Exif_JPEG_422My partner, Lynne, is going to walk the traditional pilgrim’s route across northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago from Leon to Santiago de Compostela, starting on May 3rd.

Although, like me, she’s not a Christian, she’s been drawn to the the idea of walking the Camino for some time, and finally decided to give it a go. The walk from Leon should take around 3-4 weeks. She doesn’t intend rushing it, she wants to enjoy the journey, meeting new people, seeing new sights, relaxing and enjoying the spiritual experience.

I’m the Vice Chair of the Cardiff YMCA Housing Association. They run the biggest homeless hostel in Wales, providing shelter and helping vulnerable people get their lives back together, as well as a clothing recycling operation, PreFab, which also provides the people we support with work experience. When I asked Lynne to use her walk to help raise funds for them, she couldn’t turn them down. She’ll be staying in hostels on the walk, so there’s a synergy there.

If you want to support Lynne and donate to this worthy cause, just click on the button below, where you’ll also be able to follow her progress.
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

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Welsh Commission on Co-operatives & Mutuals Report

It’s amazing how things happen by chance. I’d organised an event on behalf of Co-operatives and Mutuals Wales at the Customs House on June 28th 2012, which finished with a panel discussion. Someone (sorry, I can’t remember who) asked the question from the floor, “Why don’t we have a commission in Wales to look at what co-operatives and mutuals can do in Wales?”

28.06.11Wales Co-opeative....Yours to Share Conference, Pierhead, Cardiff Bay

The panel, Dr Molly Scott Cato, Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton, Derek Walker, Chief Executive of Wales Co-operative Centre, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK and myself were enthusiastic. Derek answered that he was seeing Edwina Hart AM, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, the following week and he’d pass the idea on. Well, the idea was put to the Minister who took it on-board and almost immediately made a public pronouncement to that effect. She recruited Professor Andrew Davies, the previous Minister, to chair the Commission and chose a group of commissioners from within the co-operative movement and outside it. These included Dame Pauline Green, the President of the ICA, the world governing body, Robin Murray from the LSE, Nick Bennett, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru, David Jenkins, Chair of the Wales Co-operative Centre and Molly Scott Cato. An advisory body was also set up which included Derek Walker and myself, so 3 of the original panellists were serving the Commission in some form! Continue reading

www.shares.coop launched

consultancy.coop, a worker co-operative of third sector consultants of which I’m a member has launched a brand new service aimed at organisations that are raising investment funds through a Community Shares Issue.


This is becoming an increasingly popular way to raise funds directly from the public, bypassing the tortuous process of grant and loan applications, and providing a direct democratic link to the individual investors

Go to the site:- www.shares.coop

The Community Ownership of Sport

I recently chaired this event, at which Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operativesUK, announced a radical new plan to give football fans a realistic chance to be in charge of their club.
SWALEC Stadium


Alex Bird

Speaking at the Community Ownership of Sport conference, sponsored by the Co-operative Group and organised by Co-operatives & Mutuals Wales at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on Feb 22nd, Ed said: –

“I call on Government to introduce legislation that will allow supporters the right to buy their club and convert it to a co-operative if 75% of season ticket holders are in favour of the move. And this should be fast-tracked for clubs in difficulty along with the right to buy at a fair market valuation.”With teams from all leagues in the domestic game, from Portsmouth to Cardiff City, facing a daily struggle to survive with the reality of debts and the threat of administration hanging over them there is a real chance that a vital community asset could be lost. According to Ed Mayo a co-operative approach to football ownership could pay dividends for clubs and supporters alike. “Football clubs are much more than just a business – they are a way of life for many people. As well as being sports clubs they have a massive influence of the financial, cultural and sporting environment in most towns and cities in the country.”

“Thousands of people follow their team week in week out, giving them tremendous support, and as a result fans, the cog that keeps the engine running, should have a say on how the club is run.

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