Co-operatives of the Year: 2019 shortlists announced

Voting is open until 21 June

Fourteen co-operatives, six co-op councils and five individual co-operators have been shortlisted across six categories for the Co-operative of the Year Awards 2019.

Organised by Co-operatives UK, the awards celebrate the impact, achievements and diversity of the UK’s co-op sector, and this year are being sponsored by the Co-operative Bank.

“We are delighted to celebrate the UK’s most innovative and successful co-ops through our support of the Co-operative of the Year Awards, and to recognise the inspiring achievements of those who have been shortlisted,” said Andrew Bester, chief executive of the Bank.

The categories and shortlists are:

Leading Co-operative of the Year

The AF Group: Formerly Anglia Farmers, Norwich-based AF is the UK’s largest agricultural purchasing group, with 3,500 shareholding members who collectively farm over 1.13 million hectares of land.

Central England Co-operative: Formed by the merger of Midlands and Anglia Co-operatives, CEC is one of the largest independent retailers in the UK, with over 400 trading outlets, around 8,600 colleagues and more than 330,000 regular trading members.

The Co-op Group: One of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, the Group is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer with more than 2,500 local, convenience and medium-sized stores, and the UK’s number 1 funeral services provider.

Openfield: A British grain marketing and arable inputs co-operative based in Lincolnshire, it is one of Britain’s largest agricultural companies and the only national co-operative in its field, with a turnover in excess of £600m.

Inspiring Co-operative of the Year

Infinity Foods: Situated in the heart of Brighton, Infinity is a thriving worker co-operative dedicated to the provision of an extensive range of 100% vegetarian foods since 1971.

Outlandish: A London-based worker co-op that uses technology that makes the world a fairer, better place: from web apps, data dashboards and monitoring tools that aid the discovery of new insights from complex data, to mass-impact campaigns.

The Schools’ Energy Co-operative: Installs community funded solar panel systems on schools free of charge as well as paying all its profits to its 48 member schools.

Shared Interest: An ethical investment organisation which works with over 11,500 investors, pooling their £41m of investments and using them to provide loans and credit facilities to primarily fair trade businesses, to ensure that farmers are paid on time for their crops.

South Devon Organic Producers: SDOP was founded in 1998 by Guy Watson, and is now a farmer owned co-operative, growing organic vegetables. Its main customer is Riverford Organic, which delivers organic fruit and veg boxes around the UK.

Breakthrough Co-operative of the Year

Bristol Wood Recycling Project: A social enterprise working to benefit community and environment, transforming wood waste into shared assets through an inclusive volunteering program and operating a timber yard for trade and public, and a wood workshop.

Chapeltown Cohousing: A Leeds-based project where residents are working towards 29 new affordable, low-energy homes with shared facilities and gardens and a diverse, intentional cohousing community grown from the local area.

Norwich Mustard: A community benefit society, owned by people who want to retain mustard production in the city following the closure of the Colman’s mustard factory.

Projekts MCR: Based at the skatepark under the Mancunian Way flyover, on the edge of Manchester city centre, the co-op improves ramp spaces, introducing children to the skatepark through skate coaching courses and employs the park users to run facilities and coaching programmes.

Revolver Co-operative: A coffee co-operative sourcing and selling Fairtrade coffee from Africa and Centraland Southern America.

Co-operative Council of the Year 2019 (sponsored by the Co-operative Council Innovation Network)

Croydon Council

Norwich City Council

Milton Keynes Council

Plymouth City Council

Rochdale Borough Council

South Tyneside Council

Co-operator of the Year

Jonathan Atkinson: With a background in environmental science and investigative research, Jonathan is one of the co-founders of Manchester’s Carbon Co-op. He has over 10 years experience of working with householders to help them to understand and overcome the key barriers to commissioning and carrying out domestic retrofit works. He also helped George Street Community Books establish itself as a community asset.

Mark Jennings: Co-founder of the Southend Taxi Co-operative, which over the last six years has grown from six cars to 70. He is also president of his regional branch of the GMB professional drivers’ union and for the last year has mentored the newly formed Cardiff Taxi Co-operative.

Lorraine Power: Lorraine was new to co-operative working when she joined Leeds Bread Co-op two years ago and has a compassionate but clear approach in her daily HR work and works hard to ensure that the co-op provides good, fair and equal employment for workers – fully embodying the co-op values.

Cris Tomas: Based in West Wales, Cris was instrumental in setting up Hermon Community Resource Centre in 2008, as well as a new co-operative in Cardigan Town which helped fund cheap car parking and start-up units in the town, leading to people coming back to shop on the high street. He has also supported the development of two community owned pubs in the area and is chair of a community energy society.

Britta Werner: Britta Werner is a member-owner at Unicorn Grocery Co-operative in Manchester, where she puts ‘solidarity in co-operation’ into practice by linking the co-op with countless others for mutual exchange and support. In 2019 Britta will stand down after 12 years of continual service on the Worker Co-op Council and eight years on the Co-operatives UK board.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced at Co-op Congress.

Online voting for the Co-operative of the Year Awards is open now and runs until 7 May to 13 June. Voting is open to all, with individuals eligible to cast one vote per category. Winners will be announced and awarded their prizes at Co-operative Congress in Manchester on Friday 21 June.

Along with the award, the Breakthrough category winner will receive the option to access £1,000 worth of specialist business advice from The Hive, Co-operatives UK’s business support programme sponsored by The Co-operative Bank.

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