Following nominations by Co-operatives UK members, nine contenders for the organisation’s Co-operative of the Year award have been announced.
The Channel Islands Co-operative, East of England Co-operative, FC United of Manchester, the Foster Care Co-operative, Jamboree, the Midcounties Co-operative, Oikocredit UK, the Phone Co-op and Unicorn Grocery were shortlisted from among 65 nominations which, for the first time, came from Co-operatives UK members.
Some of these 65 were multiple nominations received from different co-op members, but nominating the same co-op.
“The positive response to opening up the process for choosing the Co-op of the Year has been fantastic,” said Co-operatives UK chair, Nick Matthews, “but it certainly didn’t make the shortlisting process any easier! We had some fantastic nominations from a diverse range of sectors. It shows just how passionate people are about co-ops.
“Now we are at the business end, with nine superb co-ops vying for the number one spot. And within 24 hours of going live the number of votes received is already into four figures. Whichever co-op comes out on top, I’m sure we’ll be announcing a worthy winner.”
Previous winners of the accolade are Midcounties Co-operative, Central England and Suma Wholefoods, which won in 2014.
“Suma, as a leading worker co-operative, shows what the power of true employee ownership can be, lifting the bar on business innovation and performance,” said Ed Mayo, who presented the award last year.
Members of the public can vote online for the 2015 award at www.uk.coop/coopoftheyear until Friday 19 June, with the winner being announced at Congress on Friday 26 June.
Below are short summaries of the nominations. Click here for the full nominations, and to vote.
The Channel Islands Co-operative Society
“We foster an environment that dares and cares. We harness modern communications to engage and develop trust. An unwavering belief in community, fanatical about local and a deep confidence in the potential in people. Because, at the end of the day, we bet on people not strategies. And we play to win.”
East of England Retail Co-operative
“The East of England Co-op seems to be different from other large co-ops, and not afraid to try new ways of doing things.”
FC United of Manchester
“The last 12 months has seen supporter-owned co-operative football club FC United of Manchester have their best season ever on and off the pitch and continue to be a beacon for cooperative values nationally and internationally. ”
Foster Care Co-operative
“The Foster Care Co-operative (FCC) has been recruiting and expertly training foster carers for the last fifteen years, which has provided vulnerable children with safe, caring and loving homes throughout England and Wales.”
“Worker co-op owned and operated by adults with learning disabilities commissioning their own support and running CafeH2O at the Key IQ visitor centre on the Malvern Hills. Jamboree is a great example of how co-operation works for all without boundaries and overcoming barriers. Great team and tea!”
“Midcounties Co-operative is an exemplar of co-operation and deserves to be Co-operative of the Year – if not the decade!”
“This year the cooperative Oikocredit International is celebrating its 40th anniversary. This co-operative has been active in the field of responsible and sustainable finance, long before the term was invented.”
The Phone Co-op
“For over 15 years they have been showing that a co-op can still be vibrant in involving its members, fair to its community (through the fair tax mark and its amazing co-op development fund), providing an excellent service whilst still being a profitable business and returning a dividend to its members.”
“As a worker co-operative, the shop is controlled, directed and owned by its workforce. Even as we approach 60 members, we maintain flat pay, fortnightly meetings, consensus decision-making, and shared manual and administrative tasks.”