Improving lives through member groups

Over £20 of social value is returned for every £1 spent on Central England Co-operative member groups. The society operates 61 member groups across its trading area, with...

Over £20 of social value is returned for every £1 spent on Central England Co-operative member groups.

The society operates 61 member groups across its trading area, with 2,290 members attending the groups. They often revolve around learning a new skill such as dancing or crafting, but some are less about learning something and more about making a difference to people’s quality of life.

The Social Return on Investment (SROI) calculation showed a social return to individuals and local communities of £21.81 for every £1 spent on the Member Groups. This creates added social value of £1.85m from an investment of £85,000 from Central England. This includes £10,000 of staff costs and £75,000 of grants to groups.

Members said the groups help them socially by making friends; taught them new skills; and also improved the quality of life by giving members a reason to get out of the house and to keep fit.

Tackling social isolation

One member who has benefited from the groups is Peter Carter, a former civil engineer. He has been a member of the Cotesbach Co-operative Art Group, in Leicester, which has been running for 14 years.

He said the group helps to tackle social isolation: “I find it relaxing in a very hectic world.  It takes me out of myself and enables me to switch off. We know we are a Central England Co-operative group and we understand about working together and we offer our skills to other art groups as well, so that brings other benefits to the local community.”

A positive result from the member groups shows that 49% of members said they shop more at Central England stores, while 38% shop about the same. A further 14% of members said they shopped less, but part of this was due to the closure of their local stores.

During discussions with colleagues they agreed that the key outcome of the member groups was social interaction, including reducing social isolation and loneliness.  The study found there was a low level of awareness of the groups among staff, but they suggested a number of ways in which they could be promoted more and a range of possible new classes, with health and wellbeing the most popular suggestion.

OutcomesFinancial proxyQuantityValueTotal valueAdjusted figure
Increased social interactionMaintaining social connections. Increased independence and reduced social isolation847£2,337£1,979,439£891,063
Educational (development of new skills)Willingness to pay for a course that keeps the mind and body active641£693£444,213£199,958
Improved mental wellbeingIncreased mental, emotional and physical wellbeing595£2,014£1,198,330£539,611
Improved physical wellbeingIncreased mental, emotional and physical wellbeing206£2,014£414,884£186,788
Increased resilience of organisationsThe average value of financial support per Member Group. (44 Groups specified they supported other projects by renting space/purchasing items or the group was more sustainable.)44£1,230£54,120£29,766
Improved community cohesionAverage cost per incident of crime of £609. To avoid overstating the SROI it is assumed that there were four less incidents of crime in each community. Based on 8% of Members attending Groups stating there was improved cohesion there would be 5 communities with improved cohesion.5£2,436£12,180£6,538
Total social value£1,853,724
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