Voting is now open for the UK Co-operative of the Year Awards 2016 – and the shortlist covers sectors from retail and sport to housing and hospitality.
Organised by Co-operatives UK, the 2016 awards received public nominations from 18 April to 9 May, with 11 organisations shortlisted across three categories by the awards nominations panel.
New to the 2016 awards, the three categories are divided by turnover: Leading co-operative of the year (over £30m); Growing co-operative of the year (between £1m and £30m); and Inspiring co-operative of the year (up to £1m).
The winning co-operative in each category, which will be decided by a public vote, will benefit from publicity, kudos and the option of £1,000 worth of business advice via Co-operative UK’s development programme, The Hive.
You can vote online here until 14 June and the winners will be announced at Congress on Friday, 17 June.
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said: “The 11 co-ops shortlisted for this year’s Co-operative of the Year awards are fantastic examples of the success and sheer breadth of the sector. They showcase the benefits co-ops bring to their members, to their local communities and to the economy as a whole.
“Last year the awards were a wonderful, spirited contest and, with strong organisations in each category, we can expect the same for 2016. I look forward to the fun of the voting and the announcement of the winners a month today at Congress.”
The 2016 nominees:
Leading co-operative of the year:
Central England has over 400 trading outlets across UK, which makes it one
of the largest independent retailers. It runs 200 food stores, post offices, travel branches, florists, opticians, masonry outlets, a crematorium and a coffin factory. In 2015 the society invested £29.5m in ten new food stores, four new funeral homes and refurbishment across the business. Central England also reached the £1m fundraising target for its charity partner, Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.
The Scottish Midland Co-op, which trades as Scotmid, is an independent retail co-op with 350 retail outlets. It dates to 1859, when its first shop opened in Edinburgh. Its businesses include Scotmid Food, Semichem, Funeral Directors, Post Offices and our property division. Last year it partnered with Alzheimer Scotland and Alzheimer’s Society, for which it has raised over £132,000. It has also worked closely with Scottish Ambulance Service to install 42 community public access defibrillators.
The Southern Co-operative is an independent society set up over 140 years ago in Portsmouth. The co-operative runs over 250 community food stores and funeral homes across 11 counties in southern England. It runs a Local Flavours produce range and has contributed over £995,000 to local communities in 2015. The society was also nominated as a finalist for myisleofwight.com’s 2015 awards as the ‘Best Place to Fill your Boots (Full of Local Produce)’.
Growing co-operative of the year
SCL is registered as a community benefit society (bencom) with charitable status. Run by people from Salford, it offers different activities across 40 venues for the physical and cultural wellbeing of the community. These include libraries, community and sports centres, Salford Museum and Art Gallery as well as a Music and Performing Arts Service based at Moorside High School. Members, who own the business, include customers, employees and local residents with the mission to get the local community active.
Owned by its consumer-members, the Phone Co-op is the only co-operative
in the UK that provides fixed, mobile telephone and internet services. The co-op dates back to 1998 and today includes 11,000 members who run the business democratically. The Phone Co-op is one of the pioneers of the Fair Tax Mark, being among the first to receive the accreditation. The co-op is also helping to grow the co-operative movement by supporting two student housing co-operatives in Birmingham and Sheffield.
This ethical social enterprise and multi- stakeholder co-op is based in Sheffield and offers services required for their customers’ internet operations, such as maintaining and hosting servers and websites. The co- op structure enables them to provide open and clear pricing and they try to balance hardware and energy resources to deliver services in the greenest way possible. As part of this approach, Webarchitects uses and re-uses hardware and free software to build customer services. Members include workers, clients and partners.
Inspiring co-operative of the year
Bala Sports was set up as a community benefit society in 2014 to expand
the availability and use of Fairtrade sports balls. Around 70% of the world’s hand-stitched balls are made by 40,000 workers in Sialkot, Pakistan. The Fairtrade certification is a guarantee that the workers are paid a fair wage and work in fair conditions, and they also receive the Fairtrade Premium.
Glasgow’s Media Co-op was formed in 2004 by a group of media professionals who wanted to pool their resources and work co-operatively. As well as making films and animations, they provide media and video production training, tailoring to the needs of different organisations. The worker co-op can work fluently in English, Spanish, French and Lithuanian.
A creative co-op, Paper Rhino focuses on illustration, typography, design, video and photography. Their work is mainly based in Peterborough, where the co-op has its office. The six employee members chose the worker co-operative model because they believed it was the fairest way to run the business. They also offer training, workshops and consultancy.
Riverside Housing Co-operative, also known as Redditch Co-operative Homes (RDC), supports five neighbourhood co-operatives in Redditch. The co-op offers a range of tenures including shared ownership and co-operative rented properties. RDC is a member of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing and forms part of the Accord Group, an investment partner with the Homes and Communities Agency.
Situated in Ennerdale Bridge, Cumbria, the Fox and Hounds became a community pub in 2011, after the former owner decided to sell it. The closure was a setback for the villagers, who led a bid to save the pub and raised the finance in a matter of weeks. The business is now in its fourth successful year, continuing to provide villagers and visitors with traditional pub food.
- To read more about the award nominees, and to vote, click here.
In this article
- Bala Sport
- Central England
- Central England Co-operative
- Co-operative of the Year
- Co-operative of the Year 2016
- Co-operative of the Year award
- Co-operative of the Year Awards
- Co-operatives UK
- Ed Mayo
- media co-op
- Paper Rhino
- Riverside Housing Co-operative
- Salford Community Leisure
- Scotmid Co-operative
- The Fox & Hounds Community Co-operative
- The Phone Co-op
- The Southern Co-operative
- United Kingdom
- Top Stories