The Wales Co-operative Centre has launched its third Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign, which aims to show how people and organisations working co-operatively can help improve the lives of people across Wales.
Running for the first two weeks of February, the campaign highlights how 23% of the Welsh population lives in poverty – and how co-op approaches can empower communities by giving them choice and control over the services and issues important to them.
The next Welsh Assembly elections are due to take place in May, and the Welsh government’s Tackling Poverty Action Plan is scheduled to end in December. Derek Walker, chief executive of the Centre, hopes the campaign will help to support and inform future efforts around these issues.
“Across Wales, poverty is already being addressed through collaborative working and solutions that value people, communities and the environment as much as profit,” he says.
“Social businesses are delivering sustainable economic growth, creating jobs and training opportunities to those who might be furthest from the labour market, while fostering positive social change and innovation. Co-operatives such as credit unions help provide an essential lifeline to people who are experiencing financial difficulties.
“Co-operative housing schemes – which enable people to develop housing in a way that is right for them – help provide affordable homes, increasing living standards while driving local regeneration and creating jobs.
“Businesses and organisations that work in this way engage and enable communities, empowering people to take control of their own lives and enabling people to pool their resources collectively.”
The campaign will promote successful co-operative projects being delivered by the third sector and social businesses in Wales to help tackle poverty, led by a series of blog posts on www.everyonesbusiness.coop. The first project looked at is Run the Club, the latest initiative from the 2015 UK and Welsh Social Enterprise of the Year, Vi-Ability.
Run the Club gives individuals experience of and insight into the commercial side of football and sports clubs, giving people furthest from the job market the skills and knowledge needed to work within the sports industry. So far the eight-week course has helped to find sustainable employment for 84% of those who have completed its educational programme.