05 April 2012

Update on plans for 2012, including 'Welcome to Rochdale'!

Members attending the Forum's last meeting (7 March) updated other members with their organisations' news before discussing a wide range of actions to develop their plans for 2012:
  • Website. A welcome page and updated blog are to be posted. (If you are reading this, they've both been done!).
  • Commissioning and procurement. Meetings are being arranged with key people at the Council. If you want to know more about future opportunities for co-operatives and social enterprises, download 'A plain English guide to the Localism Act at www.communities.gov.uk and 'Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012: A brief guide' at www.socialenterprise.org.uk.
  • Members trading with each other. Members are reminded that they can use the links here on the Forum's blogspot to explore services they can buy from each other.
  • Sharing providers of services. Forum Chair, Rick Walker of Cartwheel Arts, has produced a comprehensive list of their suppliers and shared it with Forum Members. For more information, phone 01706 361300 or email rick@cartwheelarts.org.uk.
  • Campaign for a community renewable energy co-operative. An expresion of interest had been submitted by the Forum to the Co-operative Community Energy Challenge. However, news has been received since that the bid has not been successful. Discussions have started on developing 'Plan B' and members will be updated at the Forum's next meeting.
  • Develop a local buying and selling network. Ken Usman Smith of Castlemere Community Centre is scoping the potential for people to 'buy better together'.
  • Create training and employment opportunities, especially for young people. Tom Carr of RTC-Training and colleague John Barnacott of TTD Ltd outlined the inappropriateness of training people for work in a period of economic stagnation and the need for an alternative approach to help people create their own oportunities for self-employment. Members have since met with Tom and John to discuss ideas further and are looking forward to seeing the proposals that emerge.
  • Explore the potential for co-operatives and social enterprises in schools. Members are keen to raise awareness of co-operative and social enterprise business models in schools. How to go about it needs more discussion.
  • Support staff and/or community mutuals to deliver public services. Members endorsed an initial document setting out the issues to be considered, if the Forum is asked to support the development of mutuals to deliver public services. A revised document has since been submitted to the Council for discussion.
  • Explore the potential for managed workspace. Members deferred further consideration of this action to  a future meeting.
  • Advocate for co-operatives and social enterprises to be a focus for local economic development. Consideration of this was deferred, as well.
  • Promote ethical finance. Members got their momentum back for consideration of this item, deciding to mark 'Move your money month' (March) with an initiative to promote one of the Borough's ethical financial institutions. Contact has been made with Manchester Credit Union, that operates in the Borough, but whatever happens will be later in the year! In the meantime, you can move your personal account and your organisation's account! See how in a 'Little book about money' at www.uk.coop or by contacting us.
Members also discussed holding a 'Welcome to Rochdale - World Capital of Co-operatives' event during 'Co-operatives United' International Year of Co-operatives celebrations in Manchester at the end of October. The idea is to work with the Co-operative College which will be inviting
international visitors to the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.

And finally, members decided to hold the Forum's Annual General Meeting and next Management Meeting on 12 April, time and venue, to be confirmed. All members, and people and organisations interested in co-operatives and social enterprises in Rochdale, welcome.

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