Earlier this year, the Scottish government published the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, which outlines a significant role for democratic businesses in regional regeneration and retaining local wealth. To support these policy ambitions, we’re undertaking a review of the most effective approaches to substantially increase the number of cooperatives and employee-owned businesses in Scotland within the next decade.
Press release (soon)
Stir to Action and Shared Assets worked in partnership with Oldham Council, the Food Partnership Board, and the wider VCFSE to reduce the dependency on emergency food provision and to explore alternative models for local food. The core capacity building programme offered workshops, events, study visits, and specialist support, ranging from farm start initiatives, community supported agriculture, and food co-operatives to developing new business models, partnerships, and markets for local food initiatives. To inform this programme, we hosted co-production sessions with different partnerships and organisations in the borough, drawing from participants’ past experiences around food poverty and the local food system to understand best practices and guide plans for the future.
Barefoot provides practitioners with specialist training to gain skills, knowledge, and confidence to work as advisors in the co-operative and community business sectors. We’re looking for a new generation of practitioners who work in their own co-operative or community business and want to support others to start up or grow their own co-operative and community-led organisations.You will leave with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to provide quality support to co-operatives and community businesses (building on your own prior experience in the sector), the tools and resources to use in your own practice as an advisor, and the opportunity to stay connected with your peers and barefoot alumni.
While it’s widely accepted there’s a significant gap between policy making and democratic business, it’s not always recognised that it’s undermining sector-wide ambitions for building a democratic economy. But can it change? Over the next two years we’re working on a new project (supported by the Friends Provident Foundation) to build effective relationships between democratic business and policy initiatives.
Report: Building democratic culture, skills, and partnerships in policy-led regions.
Guide: 10 hacks for working with local authorities, if you're a democratic business.
In 2012, Local Trust was established to deliver the Big Local programme, giving 150 communities who have missed out on Lottery and other funding £1.1m each to support local regeneration. A decade later, Big Local partnerships are now developing long-term legacy plans, and Stir to Action are working alongside groups in communities to identify and diversify income and fundraising sources through 1:1 support and events.
Oldham residents and enterprises were invited to apply for start-up or scale-up grants in 2022. Shortlisted applicants were guaranteed a grant and were invited to pitch for the highest amount of funding available at an event in Oldham in February 2023. The recipients of the grant amounts were decided by public vote and can be seen on the project page.
Across the UK around 120,000 family-owned businesses are planning to retire or transfer ownership over the next few years (ONS), but two-thirds of these owners still do not have a succession plan. With commercial and policy pressure on UK land use and food production at an unprecedented level, there is a significant threat to current land use, and it is already undermining local and national food resilience through pushing our economy towards higher imports and lower employment.
Press Release: How community ownership can secure the UK's food security through buying family farms.
Our annual festival is a unique two to three days of inspiring conversations, interactive workshops, virtual reality experiences, live podcasts, idea surgeries, sustainable food, craft drinks, and live music.
This year’s festival is at Stretford Public Hall in Manchester.
Cooperate Islington is a consortium of co-operatives and community organisers who are working in partnership with Islington Council. We are building a Cooperative Development Agency that will be embedded in Islington for years to come. We provide one-to-one advice, training sessions, funding, workspace, networking opportunities and other resources and support. We are also working with the biggest institutions in the borough, helping them adapt their supply chains to buy goods and services locally from ethical providers.
Founders for the Future is a free startup programme for young adults in Devon: a new business incubator working with 15 young adults in Devon – aged between 18-30 years old – supporting them to create new enterprise ideas that secure a sustainable future for Devon’s local economy. We will support participants to set up their own enterprises with others, through workshops, residentials, 1:2:1 business consultancy, study visits, market development, a business fair, and up to £1,000 startup grant.
The New Economy Programme is Stir to Action’s democratic learning and action platform, both a national and online training programme, offering a wide range of courses on engagement and participation, social communications, media and journalism, democratic business, placemaking, creativity, and autonomy at work.The programme ran from 2018 in various cities across the country. During the pandemic NEP became an online programme with over 1000 participants joining training sessions. The programme is not currently active, while Stir to Action focusses on other projects, though may reactivate again with the right project partners. Below are some examples of the workshops we ran.
UnFound is a support programme for tech founders and startups looking for a different way to create and run digital platform businesses. In 2018 we hosted an eight-week accelerator for a cohort of platform co-operatives in Manchester and London, offering masterclasses, mentoring, and a live fundraising event. In 2019 we created the UnFound roadshow in partnership with DOT PROJECT, a nationwide event programme in technology and innovation hubs across the UK to raise awareness of the platform co-operative model and the available support.
The New Economy Centre at Selgars Mill was a long-term project to setup an immersive work and play campus for building a democratic economy, to empower communities and individuals with both the practical and strategic tools they need to create change. The centre closed at Selgars Mill in Autumn 2022 when the landowner withdrew from the community ownership process.
Preston City Council commissioned development co-operative Stir to Action to deliver a ground-breaking new programme as part of its Community Wealth Building programme, focused on providing targeted support for BAME organisations in the city, stimulating cultural awareness and interest in worker-owned business.
Press Release: Preston City Council partners with Stir to Action to bring greater diversity to Community Wealth Building and the co-operative sector
New Economy Youth is an inspiring programme specifically for 18-30 year olds who are developing enterprise-led and placemaking approaches to address local challenges in Lambeth, London. During the seven week programme there are workshops that develop participants' understanding of how co-operatives can transform their local economy, get connected to inspiring peers, build confidence and leadership skills, and increase opportunities and networks.
In July 2017, Stir To Action launched a year-long pilot – Unlocking the Next Economy: Churches and Community Enterprise – to support communities to use church buildings for local enterprise. We worked with three pilot communities in the South West of England to create new community enterprises through a 16-week programme and hosted a one-day conference – Reimagining our Churches: Conservation to Co-operation – to bring together key people in the church, heritage sector, and those working in community economic development.