Cooperate Islington launch event, 3rd March 2022 @SPACE4

An inclusive local economy initiative

Last week we hosted an in-person launch event for Cooperate Islington. It was really inspiring to see how many people share our excitement for the project, and how many new people we have reached through our communications so far.

For the first part of the event we held Open Advice Surgeries with 14 groups who want to start or grow a co-op in Islington. Each met with one of our specialist advisors. Some wanted practical advice about how to access support from Cooperate Islington, and some just needed a few words of encouragement and reassurance that their idea was a good one. They brought such a great range of new business concepts, from sustainable ‘slow fashion’ to interactive motivational coaching.

“It’s really inspiring to see initiatives like this to support people who want to set up coops. I was feeling a bit nervous about whether my project was viable before this evening. Now that I have had an opportunity to speak to an advisor and learn more about co-ops, I feel a lot more confident that I will be able to turn my idea into a successful co-operative.”

Cat, setting up a co-operative space for use by art therapists.

During the second part of the event we had some short talks, and networking. The event was really well attended (despite the Tube strike!), with 31 people present and 12 more tuning in online. The speakers were: 

  • Jeremy Corbyn, Islington North MP and founder of the Peace and Justice Project, talking about his excitement that coops are making a resurgence in the borough and his faith in the model as a way of genuinely supporting local communities.
  • Polly Robbins, member of Outlandish and coordinator of the Cooperate Islington project, about what it means to be part of a cooperative and the support available from Cooperate Islington. 
  • Jimmy Flynn, Employment Partnerships Officer at Islington Council, about the council’s support for the cooperative model.
  • Cailen Kinney, Senior Programme Manager at Cooperatives UK who are working with us to produce a report about what other local authorities can learn from Cooperate Islington.
  • Ben Jacobs, co-founder of Wings, a worker-owned delivery co-op who have been piloting in Finsbury Park in 2021, about the need for more cooperative to protect workers’ rights. 
  • Aga Rolkiewicz, member of Equal Care Coop London initiative, about why we need to revolutionise the way that home care is provided, and the way that care workers are treated.
  • Helen Jackson and Caleb Elliot, from Principle Six, our amazing cooperative development advisors, about why and how people should apply. 

Sadly, Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, who has worked incredibly hard to get this project off the ground, was not able to make the event. But we know she’d have been there if she could and we just wanted to say a big thanks to her for realising this dream. 

Earlier this year Cllr Shaikh said: 

“We want to ensure everyone has a chance to succeed economically, regardless of their background, and Cooperate Islington is an important next step towards achieving that. We are working to make our economy fairer, more equal and more inclusive for local businesses as we build back differently – part of our overarching community wealth building programme.

“Islington has had a long tradition in the co-operative movement, and I am delighted that we are investing to revive and revitalise this for the next generation of the co-operative movement in the borough.”

Islington Council have been trailblazers in recognising the power of cooperatives and supporting them from the ground up. This is a visualisation of how significant Cooperate Islington is on the UK co-op dev landscape. 

So far we’ve received over 25 expressions of interest for the Brilliant Coops programme, an initiative through which new or established co-ops can access funding, business development support, and free workspace. We’ve also had numerous conversations with organisations and institutions who want to rethink their supply chain and source locally and cooperatively. 

The deadline to apply for funding and support from the Brilliant Coops Programme is 14th March at 9am. 

Here’s what you need to do:

– Fill in the short expression of interest form on our website

– One of our advisors will be in contact within a week, and will send you the application form

– Fill in the application and return it to us by March 14th at 9am

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