LEICESTER and County Co-operative Development Agency (LCCDA) celebrated 21 years delivering social enterprise solutions within the Co-operative Movement recently.
To celerate the agency's co-operative acheivements guests to the celebrations saw a selection of co-ops brought together selling hand made chocolates, greetings cards, fair trade products, green gifts, whole foods and hair products.
Henna tattoos, Indian head massages, Chinese herbal products and organic whole foods were also on offer. The Midlands Co-operative Society and Unity Trust Bank sponsored the event.
Darren Potter of Complete Wasters, a co-op that recycles everything from computers to corks, said: "Setting up a business can be a minefield at the start. When you want to get up and running, you don't want to be worrying about accountancy and registering with Companies House.
"We found it difficult to get help until wecontacted LCCDA. It seemed like a door had opened, the CDA was able to walk us through the setting up procedure."
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt MP and Pauline Green Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK also attended this milestone event for the agency.
Ms Hewitt said: "LCCDA is 21 years old. It's one of the oldest and most successful support organisations for social enterprise. I am a passionate supporter of social enterprise. They combine the best of entrepreneurism with the best of the public service ethos of the voluntary sector."
Dame Pauline commented: "As a co-operative itself the CDA has reflected co-operative values and principles for 21 years. On behalf of all your many friends and colleagues I congratulate you on your major contribution to the Co-operative Movement."
The CDA has helped set up over 400 co-operatives in the last two decades. Co-operatives and social enterprises are models which appeal to all parts of society; the field of work for LCCDA is diverse, reaching across social, geographical and cultural boundaries.
Co-ops working with the CDA include credit unions, community arts, caterers, education support services and Leicester's Somalian community.
Dorothy Francis, LCCDA Manager said: "Being a co-op ourselves allows us to understand the issues of the risks, rewards and responsibilities of co-operative working.
"Although Co-operative Development Agencies are becoming fewer in number, LCCDA continues to thrive in the East Midlands; building on its excellent reputation, bringing sound co-operative business advice to small businesses, helping provide life-changing decisions for many groups."