We are incredibly proud to be a co-op and during #CoopFortnight we’ll be joining Co-operatives UK in celebrating UK #coops and showing how together we can offer an altogether different way of doing business.
By supporting co-ops, people are supporting their local community, collective action and shared ownership in the face of adversity and tough economic times.
Throughout Co-op Fortnight we’ve been highlighting the fantastic co-operative sectors that we support and the brilliant work they do locally, nationally and internationally.
Co-op Loan Fund brings together the UK’s biggest and smallest co-op businesses in a practical demonstration of the principle of co-operation among co-operatives. It provides unique lending, from co-ops to co-ops. The endowments made years ago by The Co-op Group, Co-op Midcounties, East of England Co-operative Society and Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society have been lent and repaid and lent again so that over £5m has been used to support over 200 co-ops creating an altogether different route to ethical, accessible loan finance.
To find out more about what we do and the co-ops we support watch our latest video or visit our website.
An historic village inn frequented by two of the most famous English landscape painters and now owned by its residents receives long-term finance boost.
With an inn on its site going back all the way to 1305, The Lamarsh Lion Community Pub commands a superb view over the River Stour much loved and sketched by the renowned landscape artists Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. On the Essex/Suffolk border about 10 miles northwest of Colchester, Lamarsh is a small village of around 180 residents who since 2017 have owned their community pub after it was put up for sale the year before.
Along with a successful community share issue, a grant from the ‘More Than a Pub’ legacy scheme, a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance, and a private loan; the community were able to proceed with the purchase of the pub and begin refurbishments from July 2017. Since then, repairs and renewals to guttering, roof tiling, chimney stacks, windows and doors as well as refitting and reequipping the trade kitchen, timber frame, damp issues and drainage have all been undertaken and completed.
Co-op Loan Fund along with Co-operative & Community Finance were pleased to help secure additional finance for the pub as it continues to develop and grow as a vital community asset. Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance said: “We are delighted to be able to support for The Lamarsh Lion. Our long-term finance was able to support the needs of the group. This type of finance was not available through other lenders. Rising energy prices have a created tough trading conditions, however with impressive leadership in place and a debt structure which supports the business, the outlook has significantly improved for the group.”
With a committee that offers a broad range of skills and experience, The Lamarsh Lion has built up a reputation as a place to eat and drink for families in the local area and has been doing well with theme nights and community focused activities. With residents also utilising the pub regularly for family parties, The Lamarsh Lion are truly establishing themselves as a family friendly affordable venue in the region.
Ruth Allison, Treasurer at The Lamarsh Lion Community Pub Ltd said: “Getting this further investment from Co-operative & Community Finance and Co-op Loan Fund has really been a boost to our group. The challenges of running a community business in the current economic environment are complex and persistent. Having a supportive lender who knows what you are going through, understands and is willing to help is much needed and appreciated. It is a refreshing approach to accessing community finance.”
Hospitality co-ops have shown incredible resilience in recent years doing the right thing by their communities through diversifying services and supporting staff, members, and customers. Co-op Loan Fund continues to provide crucial guidance, advice and supportive loan finance to the co-operative hospitality sector aiming to create new opportunities for local involvement in community business up and down the country.
You can find out more about The Lamarsh Lion by visiting their website.
Residents of Kingsley Holt have come together to save and repurpose their local chapel as a thriving community centre providing an essential meeting space, shop and café for the area.
Situated in the Staffordshire Moorlands just a few miles away from Cheadle, the village of Kingsley Holt has had to rely on its neighboring market town for local amenities in recent years after closure of the village’s last shop.
As well as a place of worship, Kingsley Holt Chapel has been an important community meeting space hosting all kinds of events, carnivals, Christmas fairs and carol services since its opening in 1937. Originally managed by the Methodist Church, the Chapel was closed for regular worship in June 2019 due to a dwindling congregation. Church trustees wanted to find a “new energy and vision” for the building and approached residents to help find alternative uses for the Chapel and retain it as a community asset. In response to this the local community had rallied together around the village’s 85 year old chapel to protect and retain it as a thriving community space.
From then on, the community came together to help manage the centre activities and hire the venue out for events and meetings. After being informed in May 2021 by Methodist Trustees that the Chapel was to be sold, locals decided that the building was far too important and valuable to the village to let go and applied to the local council to register and protect it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), listing was granted on the 9th Aug 2021. Soon after Kingsley Holt Centre Limited was registered as a Community Benefit Society and locals began to plan the purchase of the building.
Securing loans from Co-operative & Community Finance and Co-op Loan Fund (managed by CCF) along with a community share offer with investment from over 120 members; the committee has been able to purchase the building completing on the 5th September 2022 and are now busy putting in place exciting plans to change the internal layout creating a new meeting space to increase capacity and convert an existing domestic kitchen into a new shop and café area.
Martin Wheeler, Chair of Kingsley Holt Centre Limited said: “When we first started on this project, we had to do an amazing amount of research. We visited other groups for advice and on one of these visits CCF was recommended to us. From the very first contact it was evident that this was an invaluable recommendation. Kevin worked very closely with us on this project from first contact providing advice, information access to funding in addition to loans. We are very excited about this project and it’s very reassuring to know we will have the expertise of CCF working alongside us going forward.”
Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance said: “Kingsley Holt is a great story of a community overcoming significant challenges to secure a community asset. Martin and the group have been amazing, and really battled through to make this happen. This really does give hope to community groups looking to secure community assets.”
You can keep up to date with Kingsley Holt Centre by visiting their website.
A community owned bakery announces exciting new plans to buyout premises, provide apprenticeships and purchase new equipment.
Located about 30 miles east of Edinburgh, Dunbar Bakery has been serving the community of Dunbar for over 150 years and as a co-operative with a membership of 1,300 since 2011. Wholly owned by its shareholders who mostly live in town or nearby, the popular high street bakery (runner up in ITV’s 2012 competition Britain’s Best Bakery) provides a range of bread, pastries, cakes and sandwiches to locals and wholesale customers.
Although Covid had an impact on the bakery, it was able to stay open throughout the pandemic stepping up and providing a much relied upon and appreciated service at a difficult time for locals. Co-op Loan Fund is delighted to be able to support Dunbar Community Bakery once again with a loan that will help with growth and the purchase of new equipment with the view to attract more customers to the high street and make sure it continues to thrive.
Employing 6 full time members of staff supported by 4 part time assistants and 5 Management Committee members, the bakery celebrated its tenth birthday with plans to buy the premises and open a training scheme for young apprentices supported by a crowd fund and drive for new members with proceeds ploughed into community benefit.
Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance who manage the fund said: “We are delighted to be supporting Dunbar Community Bakery again with our third loan. This is a real local success story, creating jobs and contributing to a vibrant local high street in a coastal village. The bakery is a good example of using community power to respond, create and deliver local solutions to economic challenges. We are looking to work with more co-operative across Scotland in the coming months.”
Co-op Loan Fund exists to empower co-operatives and the communities they serve by providing the accessible loan finance needed to breathe new life into local high streets. We want to see the economic benefits of a strong and healthy high street shared with employees, shoppers and the wider community rather than for private profit elsewhere.
Find out more about Dunbar Bakery’s plans by visiting their website.
A collective of hospitality and events workers in Plymouth have taken on the premises of a previously dormant college brewery to launch Borrowed Parts Brew Co.
Operating out of a former teaching and commercial brewery installed by City College Plymouth in the year 2000, the group have revived and retrofitted the facility which has been sat idle for several years.
Prior to 2020, a local economic and community development organisation Real Ideas negotiated the lease and helped the group secure initial backing allowing them to train to produce craft beer at scale and develop as a co-operative.
With an interest borne of personal experience, the group favour co-operative structures and collective ownership as a safeguard against exploitation and burnout all too familiar in the hospitality and brewing industries. The group say that their interests lay in ‘community ownership to counter capital led development of their community, both in terms of literal development projects and also the market-first ideology pervasive in society’.
The brewery is launching in May and will be serving at community, social enterprise and festival events in the area. They are also developing educational resources for students with the College, as well as offering paid work experience on select brew days.
In the longer term Borrowed Parts Brew Co have plans to include developing much more sustainable production practices. Currently their waste hops go to Snapdragons CIC, where slow worms burrow in its compost, and they hope to brew using waste bread once they can build up a localised supply chain.
Jack Witek, a Director at Borrowed Parts Brew Co said: ”We simply would not be here if it were not for the Co-op Loan Fund. Coming at such a crucial time for us, the swift investment decision and the trust placed in us in receiving the fund gave us such a confidence boost after a very difficult and demoralising period. It has allowed us to put two beers on the market with everything that requires. Whilst we are a community oriented project, enterprises like ours need more than just volunteerism to get off the ground, and we are proud to be part of a virtuous cycle with our success helping other community and co-operative enterprises and livelihoods.”
Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance who manage the fund added: “The Co-op Loan Fund has an important role to play in helping the Co-op sector develop. Our smaller lending is often a catalyst for further investment and growth. Borrowed Parts is an excellent initiative grounded in the principles of co-operative development. We look forward to working further with them and supporting other groups with the same outlook and ownership structures.”
Visit the Borrowed Parts Brew Co. website for all their latest news and products.
Coop Loan Fund provides unsecured loans to co-operatives with no personal guarantees up to £85,000 with ongoing advice and support and no set lending terms.
As co-operatives we have a responsibility to contribute through our individual and collective action as well as advocating and influencing meaningful system change that will benefit us all and the world we live in.
It is also important that co-operatives lead the discussions and create training and education opportunities around important subjects such as energy-efficient lifestyles, low-carbon technologies and more diverse energy systems to tackle climate change.
Coop Loan Fund has worked with many dedicated Eco co-operatives who put the environment, climate change and their own ecological impact at the heart of everything they do:
Plotgate – Community supported agriculture Sacred Earth – Nature-based education courses and workshops Lauriston Farm – Organic farm on 210 acres of site of special scientific interest farmland & saltmarsh on Blackwater Estuary Hempen – Hemp grower and manufacturer of hemp products Regather – Organic fruit and veg box scheme and vegan micro-brewery based in Sheffield Valley Organics – Wholefood zero packaging community shop Wild Thyme wholefoods – Wholefood co-op promoting zero packaging in their shop R-Eco – Solar panel installers Ecological Land Co-op – Small hold farming co-op
Will you put co-operative principles and values into action to tackle climate change and create the next Eco Co-op?
14 million people are members of a co‑op in the UK and you could be too. Join a co-op, support your community and be part of a movement that has the potential to change society for the better.
Coop Loan Fund provides unsecured loans to co-operatives with no personal guarantees up to £85,000 with ongoing advice and support and no set lending terms.
This year Co-op Fortnight, the annual UK celebration of co-operation, is a time for reflection. What can we learn from the way co-ops and communities have responded to the pandemic? How can we ensure we build something better for the future?
Co-op Loan Fund brings together the UK’s biggest and smallest co-op businesses in a practical demonstration of the principle of co-operation among co-operatives. It provides unique lending, from co-ops to co-ops. The endowments made years ago by The Co-op Group, Co-op Midcounties, East of England Co-operative Society and Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society have been lent and repaid and lent again so that over £5m has been used to support over 200 co-ops.
The fund has 40 borrowers at present and has kept in close contact with all of them during the crisis, as Ian Rothwell of Co-operative & Community Finance explains:
“Maintaining good communication is vital. Straight away we were asking our borrowers if they needed extra help before it became a big problem. Some said they were OK, others were worried, and all were pleased that we’d got in contact. We’ve provided assistance to nearly half of them.
“Being flexible is also very important and this is one of strengths of Co-op Loan Fund. We tailor our lending to each co-op’s individual needs. I expect some will bounce back quite quickly but for others, such as pubs, it will be a long time before they recover, and we will adapt accordingly.”
The pandemic has confirmed how resilient and innovative co-ops are. Some Co-op Loan Fund borrowers have got busier. These include PrimePac Solutions supplying sanitiser, Valley Organics starting a delivery service, and Rotherham Rise supporting those affected by domestic abuse. Others have found new ways of supporting their communities. These include Greenwich CDA packing food bags, Jazz.Coop livestreaming from musicians’ homes, and Holbrook Community Society starting a takeaway service from the pub while it is closed.
Ian Rothwell has made sure that all borrowers are aware of the various support packages that are available, both the government schemes and also the specific grants including those administered by Power to Change, Plunkett Foundation and the Community Fund.
“During the crisis, organisations that support co-operative and community enterprise have been working together even more than usual,” Ian said. “I expect this to continue.”
Co-op Loan Fund, in common with all lenders, will have to update its risk register to include the risk of another coronavirus pandemic. Ian Rothwell is adamant that the fund will continue to consider lending in any business sector as long as the applications come from democratically-controlled enterprises. He expects that in future various social lenders will work together on combined lending packages to spread the risk.
This is definitely an opportunity for Co-op Loan Fund to #KeepCooperating and build something better together.
A unique music co-operative is developing new ways to bring musicians and audiences together while the venue it owns remains closed.
The Globe in Newcastle upon Tyne was bought by Jazz.Coop in 2014 with investment from a community share issue and loans from Co-op Loan Fund and Co-operative & Community Finance. It is thought to be the only pub in the UK that is owned and run by a co-operative with a specific commitment to music, poetry and dance.
Like all pubs at the moment it is suffering from a total loss of bar sales but also the jazz musicians that it aims to support are experiencing a loss of income too.
Jazz.Coop has started to livestream exclusive concerts on Facebook and YouTube. Unlike most of the music available on social media, these Jazz.Coop virtual gigs are not free. Viewers are asked to make a donation to the musicians to access the gig. They can then watch the concert as part of a private Jazz.Coop audience and react with comments in real time. They can also view it later, and again, if they wish.
The next Jazz.Coop exclusive livestream is on Sunday 17 May at 8pm and will feature Swiss-Albanian jazz singer Elina Duni and award-winning guitarist Rob Luft. Click here for details.
Currently Jazz.Coop is streaming these gigs from musicians’ homes but it is planning to stream directly from The Globe as soon as it is safe to do so. At first this may be with only musicians and technicians in the building.
Harry Husaini, the volunteer technical director of Jazz.Coop, said: “It is likely to be a long time before the live music scene gets back to something like normal. High quality livestreaming from The Globe is the way to go. It will enable the musicians to reach a much larger audience including those people for whom it would be too risky to attend in person.”
Jazz.Coop is also looking at ways of enabling its tutors to deliver its popular jazz courses remotely.
Over the last six years Jazz.Coop and The Globe have become well rooted in the Tyneside music community. Last year The Globe hosted 270 music and dance events. Over 700 learning places were provided in workshops and courses, and musicians developed their skills in 75 free jam sessions.
Co-op Loan Fund has lent a cumulative total of £5m in nearly 200 loans since it started in 2002. This landmark figure was reached with a loan to PrimePac Solutions, an employee-owned business in south Wales that has increased production to meet a huge increase in demand for sanitising and cleaning products.
Co-op Loan Fund is a unique fund set up to provide supportive finance exclusively to democratically controlled enterprises, especially co-ops and community benefit societies. It is funded and run by co-ops with the specific aim of helping other co-ops.
Co-op Loan Fund made a small operating surplus in 2019 which was reinvested into the fund.
Ian Rothwell, Investment Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “Co-op Loan Fund is a practical example of the principle of co-operation among co-operatives. And it works. From a modest start 18 years ago the money has been recycled again and again helping many co-ops that would find it difficult to access loan finance from other sources.”
Significant building work to improve the facilities of a community-owned pub in rural Staffordshire is well underway, with support from Co-op Loan Fund, Co-operative & Community Finance, the Reach Fund and local grant providers.
The Royal Oak in Rushton Spencer, near Leek, which had closed after a period of neglect, was bought and re-opened by a community benefit society in 2015. The pub is run by a tenant and the rent generates a modest surplus for the society which is owned by nearly 160 local people who have bought shares. When they were first entitled to receive interest on their investment the members voted (at the AGM in 2018) that the money should be put towards improving the kitchen and toilet facilities.
Liz Austin, Secretary of Rushton Oak Community Pub Ltd, said: “For the last few years of commercial ownership the brewery had failed to invest in the building, and we were not going to make the same mistake. We were very aware that the kitchen facilities were inadequate and were limiting what the tenant could provide. Also, there was no wheelchair accessible toilet.”
The society decided to build an extension to provide an accessible toilet and increase the size of the kitchen. It spent much of last year developing a realistic plan to raise the finance needed.
Co-operative & Community Finance, which is an approved Access Point for the Reach Fund, helped the society to apply for a grant to cover the legal and professional fees. It also arranged loans from its own funds and Co-op Loan Fund. Both organisations had helped to fund the purchase in 2015.
Liz Austin said: “The builders started knocking down walls in the New Year and everything should be finished by the end of February. The new kitchen is going to allow us to greatly improve the quality and quantity of our food offer. Our tenant, Ollie Nock, is planning an exciting new menu with many vegan options.”
Tim Coomer, Business Development Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance, which manages Co-op Loan Fund, said: “I was very impressed by the passion of the board members and the tenant. They love their community pub and are determined that it will continue to succeed. By accessing the Reach Fund, Co-op Loan Fund and our own funds we have helped them finance a significant improvement in the pub facilities.”