Two UK co-ops to star in European documentary

Equal Care Co-op and Suma will feature in the film, which is set for release in 2025

Two “revolutionary” co-operatives have been chosen to star in a feature-length TV documentary to be aired across Europe.

Equal Care Co-operative and Suma will feature alongside co-operatives from mainland Europe, with filming set to take place later this year (2024). The documentary will be pitched to broadcasters in countries across the continent. 

The documentary is the brainchild of media co-operative Pre-production began late in 2023, with some early-stage filming at both organisations.

The project is a collaboration between, Co-operatives UK, the Ivano Barberini Foundation, the Co-operative College and film production company Ladoc and aims to showcase the transformative nature of co-operatives, with life-changing impact on individuals and communities. Filming is set to take place later in 2024.

“Co-operatives are resilient, effective, job creators, with huge potential to fix broken systems like care, housing and energy. But people, generally, know very little about co-ops,” said Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK. “That has to change if we’re to create a fairer society that does more for people and communities. 

“This documentary could be a game-changer, reaching new audiences through telling brilliant stories. Equal Care Co-op and Suma are both amazing businesses, with people at their hearts. We’ve incredible co-operatives operating across the UK, doing great things every day, so it’s kudos to West Yorkshire that the chosen two are both from this area.”

Suma and Equal Care Co-op are both based in West Yorkshire

The UK’s co-operatives were invited to submit applications to be part of the documentary. Shortlisted co-operatives took part in casting sessions at Co-op Congress in 2023, with Equal Care Co-op and Suma coming out tops from a high-quality field. 

“The co-ops we have chosen are really revolutionary,” said Sara Vicari, co-founder of “They have been proving that it is possible to reverse power relations and put at the centre of the scene workers and users, while still being profitable. That’s a key message. It is indeed possible to be a builder of economic, social, and environmental justice as they are.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire – where Equal Care and Suma are both based – has hailed the co-operative trailblazers.

“It is great to see co-operatives in our region being celebrated for their important work,” she said. “Co-operation is undoubtedly the way forward for communities and businesses to thrive, which is why it’s so important to support those working in this way.

“In West Yorkshire we have a proven history of working in collaboration and I am committed to building on those foundations to create a brighter and prosperous region that works for all.”


Suma, in Elland, is the biggest equal pay co-operative in Europe. The wholesaler, which delivers more than 7,000 vegetarian, natural, responsibly sourced products to businesses and communities across the UK and internationally, is completely owned and controlled by its workforce.

“There’s never before been a point in my life where I’ve been proud to talk about where I worked, and now I can’t shut up about Suma!” says worker-owner Ash Barrow. “I’m excited to see what this documentary can achieve. I don’t want to go into this with unrealistic expectations but, without being too dramatic, learning about co-ops and finding out there was another way changed my life. 

Fellow worker-owner, Christopher Roseby-Bunce, said: “It’s important to reveal the realities of what Suma can achieve as a worker co-op and that other approaches to work can be successful. Suma has, and will continue to demonstrate, that work is about both putting in and taking out, for not only oneself but the greater good of all those in proximity. People need to see that with co-operation, you can have not just the bread, but the roses too!”

Suma is the biggest equal pay co-operative in Europe


Equal Care Co-op is the UK’s first platform-based social care and support co-operative. Its online platform, collaboratively developed with and owned by its members, empowers the people receiving support to build and manage their own team.

“We think [the documentary] could open a lot of eyes to the power of co-operatives to challenge the status quo and bring lasting, meaningful change to the sectors they operate in,” says founder Emma Back. “In our case, it can shed light on the power of co-operative care and the positive changes it brings to the lives of caregivers, care users and their families.

“We believe in empowering both care workers, family members and people receiving care; rebalancing the broken and exploitative power dynamics that exist in most of the care sector. This documentary can showcase how our co-operative model fosters a sense of dignity, respect, and true partnership in care. 

She adds that for Equal Care Co-op, it’s crucial to get people interested in what the co-op does “because we truly believe that this is how care should be done!”

“ We want the entire sector to be redesigned around these principles – a task that demands other people to take note and take action. By highlighting our success, we hope to inspire others to embrace co-operative principles and create similar positive change in their communities.”