The rise of the “precariat” is well documented. Young people find themselves freelancing more and more (not just young people we might add!) and there is a real desire for structures that provide solidarity and insulation from the poor treatment an individual can suffer at the hands of unscrupulous quasi-employers or customers. A Freelancers Co-op can be many things. It can provide marketing of members’ services to customers with more reach and punch than an individual; the ability to tender for larger pieces of work; a “whole offer” for customers combining the skills of many members in one package; back office services like invoicing, accounts or factoring; shared office space; mutual support etc. Whatever the members want to source or provide collaboratively can be made available to members either as a “take it or leave it” offer or as a menu of services.
Having met when we co-delivered a weekend workshop with Alt Gen for young people setting up co-ops as part of the Stir To Action workshop programme 2015, we were asked if we could put together an overview of the key steps people might take to put together a freelancers’ co-op, to empower, inform and inspire people. Then one of the STIR designers turned our clunky diagram into a thing of beauty.