We were commissioned by Local Trust to investigate how the funding of ‘community-led change’ is currently understood by the funding sector, including which funders are prioritising communities in their funding strategies, what types of funding is being offered, and how funds are being distributed across the UK.
The report is for internal use within Local Trust, and to inform Big Local groups to identify funders to support the legacy phase of the programme.
We’re working on a new research project that will form an essential part of Hackney Council’s commitment to creating a thriving local ecosystem for ‘Alternative Business Models’, such as co-operatives, social enterprises, and VCS organisations.
The research will look at which of these social business models best suit the Council’s objectives, what levers are available to the Council to support growth in the sector, and setting out a clear direction of travel for the Council to realise its ambition of becoming an exemplar local authority in its support for social businesses.
In early 2022, 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.
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.
We are bringing participants together from across the democratic business sector for a one-day event to advance democracy in workplaces and communities, organised as part of our Democratic Business Centre.
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. We curate the programme, and design and run the event logistics.
We’ve hosted the festival on greenfield sites, online, and in a major UK city.
Stir to Action and Shared Assets worked in partnership with Oldham Council, the Food Partnership Board, and the wider CVSVCFSE 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, and community supported agriculture, to food co-operatives.
We designed a challenge prize – offering more than £50,000 – to inspire Oldham residents and enterprises to create new or scaling food enterprises that are developing the most effective responses to local food insecurity. Shortlisted applicants were guaranteed a grant and were invited to pitch for the highest amount of funding available at an event 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, our programme supports family farmers with succession planning through events and option papers, to increase the probability of family farmland converting into democratic ownership.
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.
New Economy Youth was 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.
A practical primer & event guide to support community-led organisations across the UK, crowdfunded successfully in summer of 2023. It is an accessible ‘primer’ on all aspects of the new economy, sharing straightforward tools and ideas for workplaces, communities, and movements for change. Thousands of copies of the ABCs of the New Economy are being distributed to hundreds of community-led organisations across the country, as well as offering a downloadable event guide to support UK-wide movement building events.
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.
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.
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 group support and learningevents.
Founders for the Future was a free startup programme we designed for un and under-employed for young adults - 18-30 years old - in Devon.
We supported them to create new enterprise ideas that could secure a sustainable future for Devon’s local economy, through workshops, residentials, personal business consultancy, study visits, market access, and a pitch event.
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.
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.
Cooperate Islington is a consortium of co-operatives and community organisers who are working in partnership with Islington Council’s Inclusive Economies team.
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.