One of the UK’s more unusual new co-ops is getting ready to launch, with a little help from Co-op Loan Fund.
The Security Professionals Support Co-operative (SPSC), based in Tyneside, aims to improve the working situations of all security personnel, from bouncers to bodyguards, by providing access to training, insurance, legal protection and accountancy.
It is an ambitious co-operative business venture that has been developing for over a year and is nearly ready to start. Its new premises were opened by the Mayor of Gateshead on 31 July and the IT systems are being installed now so that the recruitment of new members can begin in mid-September. A loan from Co-op Loan Fund is helping to finance the start-up costs and provide initial working capital.
At the moment SPSC comprises four founder members/directors but soon the co-op will be inviting the estimated 7,500 security staff working in North East England to join them and use the co-op’s services. In later years it hopes to expand into Scotland and North West England and ultimately to the whole of the UK.
Founder member Rob Dixon has many years’ experience of working on the doors of pubs and clubs. It is difficult and sometimes dangerous work and Rob is very aware that many door staff have low morale and little support. He said: “Door staff still have a ‘thug’ image, which is totally wrong. They’re there to protect the customers, there to protect staff and there to help the police. The door staff know that, just no one else sees it.”
Although all security personnel have to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority, Rob feels that the training is basic and there is little opportunity for career development in the industry. SPSC will be working with a major training provider who will offer funding, educational loans and support for upskilling and advanced learning for existing operatives along with an unemployment programme and recruitment drive for new people entering the industry. SPCS will help to find work placements for newly trained security staff.
One of the immediate benefits of joining the co-op will be low cost insurance. Most door staff are self-employed and as it is a risky job income protection insurance is difficult and expensive to obtain. SPSC has negotiated a very advantageous deal with an insurance broker for the benefit of its members. “We’re providing security for security,” said Rob.
Ian Rothwell, Investment Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance which manages Co-op Loan Fund, said: “This is a perfect example of how the co-operative model can really improve the working lives of people who are in difficult and often low paid jobs. Many security staff have low self-esteem and limited prospects. SPCS is using co-operation to change that and Coop Loan Fund wants to help them do it.”
View this video made by Co-operatives UK. SPSC received support to register as a co-operative through The Hive, a support programme for co-ops delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank.