We're excited to announce a new team member – Abbie Kempson!
What’s your backstory?
From Cornwall originally and very much hoping to return! I left for university over 20 years ago (to study Development Studies and then an MA in Latin American Studies) and ended up staying in Manchester for work.
I spent several years working in community development and development education in the formal education sector (running projects and delivering workshops for pupils and teachers on environmental and social justice issues, plus participatory classroom methodologies including Philosophy for Children), before starting at Unicorn Grocery eight years ago and enthusiastically entering the world of worker co-operation. Last year I joined the Barefoot Co-op and Community Business Development training programme and went on to found People Support Co-op with Lorraine and another colleague from the course.
Formerly active in the Central America solidarity movement, as well as anti-capitalist and radical environmental groups, like many of my friends I got older and started gardening instead! (Although at Unicorn I administer our international solidarity funding stream and hugely appreciate the opportunity to be in touch with inspiring projects around the world, including Rojava via the Solidarity Economy Association). Outside of work I’ve been involved in a community allotment project and Incredible Edible groups for quite a few years, but it has taken a back seat in the pandemic while I’ve been busy training in co-op and community business development and setting up People Support Co-op with Lorraine.
The other thing to know about me is I have an extremely cute and incredibly naughty young dog, so in meetings you may hear the occasional shout of ‘Indigo no!’ as I attempt to protect various possessions from her sharp teeth.
What’s your role at Stir to Action?
HR consultancy support via People Support Co-op.
What other initiatives are you involved in?
- Unicorn Grocery (Member Director)
- Barefoot Collective (peer support network of recent graduates of the Barefoot Co-op and Community Business Development Course)
- Cooperantics Associate (training / support in co-op culture, conflict resolution, meetings)
- Sociocracy for All (leader of the Co-op Circle, and Sociocracy Academy programme support worker - supporting students in their learning journey)
- Co-ops UK Expert Governance Reference Panel (appointed adviser to support the production of guidance materials on sociocratic governance)
- Co-op College Associate
- Community allotment and Incredible Edible projects in Manchester
What keeps you up at night?
Usually Indigo puppy dog, or my elderly cat!
Also, I deliver quite a lot of workshops and training sessions and sometimes find myself waking up with a good idea that I need to write down before I forget … they don't always make sense the next day.
One thing you are going to change?
Hard to narrow it down to one, but probably top of the list is persevering with training Indigo so she grows up into a happy, bouncy, enthusiastic but well-behaved dog! And to get back to my allotment and enjoy the flowers … if not many vegetables given the long absences recently.