Co-operative Care Colne Valley Spreads its Wings
COVID-19 has laid bare the fragility of our care system, whilst simultaneously highlighting the extraordinary resilience and commitment of the people working to care for us. Whislt the devastating events of the spring and summer of 2020 will no doubt be subject to detailed examination for a long time to come, the team driving the creation of Co-operative Care Colne Valley have been focussing their energies on getting everything ready to commence operations with the minimum delay. The founding board members were concerned that the health crisis, and the consequent economic crisis, would have a amajor negative impact on fundraising efforts. To test the water, a localised campaign was launched to encourage supporters to pledge their support and indicate what that support would translate into in cash terms. Just a few short weeks later and the results were in – more than 60 people had pledged in excess of £50,000 – support was strong and undeterred by wider concerns. Indeed, perhaps the issues that COVID-19 has put under the spotlight have also highlighted just how important this co-operative care project is to us all. The pledge campaign is of course ongoing, and you can pledge your support here.
Spurred on by this success, as I write this post we're awaiting the formal launch of the new co-operative's community share issue, which will seek to raise the funds necessary to see it through to a sustainable operating position a year or so from now. This is fabulous news, and we're really excisted by the prospect. There's one aspect of the Co-operative Care project that KSEN finds particularly inspirational: the idea tthat sees the co-operative scale up – not by simply getting bigger (which would almost certainly weaken its local accountability and make the organisation feel more remote from its members) – but through a strategy of replication and federation.In the same way as the social co-operatives of Northern Italy that originally inspired much of the thinkng behind Co-operative Care Colne Valley, the co-op has a "strawberry patch" game plan baked in.
Activity around this "replicate and federate" work is already well underway. A beta release of a handbook – a guidebook to help other communities set up similar co-operatives – is due to be published in the next few weeks, and a series of webinars kicks off on June 30th with a strategic roundtable discussion that aims to bring together the key people and organisations necessary to scale up the approach rapidly.