In wolves’ clothing? Fake Non-Profits

David Smith recommends a blog post by Ed Mayo.


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Robert Owen: socialist

‘BBC Radio 4 British Socialism: The Grand Tour – Series 1: From Robert Owen to Keir Hardie Episodes 15 minutes.Anne McElvoy traces the emergence of British socialism through the 19th century, from Robert Owen’s visionary schemes for a society based on villages sharing goods in common, to the arrival of Labour MPs in Parliament 1906’ 

The omnibus edition is on Friday evening at 21:00 –

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Report: Adult Learning in the Community for the Community

A link to the third C&MW event, held last November can be found here:

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David Smith remembers a speech by Barack Obama:

Change will not come about if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”. (Chicago 2008)

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Archive report on the first C&MW event

dsCooperative Education draft report v1

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The Wisdom of Citizen Clem

The Wisdom of Citizen Clem – individually & collectively we can make a change #coops #cooperation #together

by socialcoopforumwales

David word cloud

Chilling out in a sunny climate after organising three events over the past twelve months developing the future of Co-operative Education in Wales with Co-ops and Mutuals Wales, I have just finished reading “Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee: Winner of the Orwell Prize” by John Bew which I started reading six months ago.

The most memorable aspect can be found at the last few pages of the book that identify the contribution we can all make if we are to rebuild Co-operation as a social movement. This will be through our individual and collective endeavours.

At our next Social Co-operation Forum on December 15th 2017, Donna Coyle speaks about the outcome of a recent consultation response submitted by Care to Co-operate/Wales Co-operative Centre and others who shared their position.

Two types of small co-operatives are now to be exempted from Regulation as a domiciliary care / support service ‘Written Statement – Implementation of service regulation under the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016’ . The types are:

  • An unincorporated Families’ Co-operative
  • An incorporated micro co-operative that can take two forms – a Families Micro Co-operative or a co-operative of Personal Assistants wanting to offer their care and support to citizens who receive Direct Payments.

How does this relate to “Citizen Clem”? This book is an excellent single volume about an unassuming person who has achieved much in his lifetime. Atlee left an indelible mark on British society by bringing about radical reform whilst leading the Labour Party for twenty years and as Prime Minister from 1945-1951.

In 1937, Bew refers to Attlee paraphrasing an excerpt from ‘A Dream of John Ball’, one of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381. But this time it came with Attlee’s twist.

‘It is true as was said in John Ball, that the things we fight for turn out to be different from what we hoped and have to be fought for in other ways, but what is not proven is that if those causes .. for which we strove would inevitably have come about in another way. There is no warrant in history for this. It is only an optimistic assumption”.

Bew adds, “Not only was it fatalistic to give up …; it was also dangerous. There was no guarantee that the things for which Attlee had striven all his life would come about if he left the battlefield to others”.

Individually and collectively we can make change. Let us build upon hard work undertaken over nearly a decade in Wales, for we cannot assume the change we wish to make can be left to others.

David Smith

Secretary, Co-ops and Mutuals Wales

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Adult Learning in the Community for the Community

  1. I Pictures by Chris Hall of the recent C&MW/ALW event held at Cartrefi Cymru Coop.

Speakers shown include Tom O’Kane, Toni Schiavone and Dafydd Rhys.

A report on the day will be published.

Speaker Dafydd Rhys

Speaker Tom Kane

Speaker Toni Schiavone

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Robin Murray, posthumous award

The 2017 Albert Medal is awarded posthumously to Robin Murray for pioneering work in social innovation.

Robin Murray was a visionary social and economic thinker, whose life’s work was guided by a profound commitment to mutuality and cooperation.

 David Smith comments: A very well deserved posthumous award to Robin Murray. 

The best tribute we can all make will be to emulate his visionary commitment to mutuality and cooperation.

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A new event facilitated by CMW

Adult Learning in the Community for the Community

Saturday 18th November @ Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative

This is the third event facilitated by Co-ops and Mutuals Wales aimed at highlighting the crucial role of Co-operative Education in building a Co-operative Wales. Our theme – Re-visioning Adult Community Learning for a Co-operative and Democratically Engaged and thriving Wales is very timely with recent Government policy and review announcements on Adult Education. We are delighted that Addysg Oedolion Cymru/Adult Learning Wales will be co-sponsoring the day as part of their new democratic engagement curriculum and campaign to revitalise Adult Community Learning.

Places are limited: admission by invitation. £10 by cheque or cash on the day. For further details please contact David Smith: Secretary C&MW without delay! (01633) 266781

9.30 Arrival and refreshments

10.00 Introductions: Sue Lyle

The Community of Enquiry Approach and asking conceptual questions – getting to know each other

10.20   Setting the scene – Think Piece 1: Tom O’Kane from Cae Tan, Swansea, biodynamic farm. Working with young people and local communities that demonstrates co-operative practices and adult learning in action.

10.40 Small group work response to Think Piece 1: What can we learn from a community-based small-scale cooperative project to help us re-envision Adult Community Learning?

11.00 Policy context – Think Piece 2: Professor David Reynolds, Acting Head, Swansea University School of Education Adult Community Education provision, including legislative/policy context, relevant international experience and ideas.

11.20   Break

11.30    Small group work response to Think Piece 2: What are the assumptions of the Welsh Government and what are the implications for Adult Community Learning? 

12.00   How do we do it? – Think Piece 3: Toni Schiavone. Former Director of the Basic Skills Agency in Wales and Head of the Welsh Government Basic Skills Unit, currently, Vice Chair ALW.  Practical steps and policy arrangements required for adult education in a Co-operative and democratically engaged Wales – bilingual presentation.

12.30 Small group work response to Think Piece 3: How best can we seed and support grass roots Adult and Community Learning initiatives? 

1.00      Lunch and Networking

2.00 Small group work: What questions arise for adult learning practitioners if we are to re-vision Adult Community Learning? Generating questions for enquiry.

2.40 Community of Enquiry 

3.40 Next steps: What should we bring from today into our different contexts?


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From Chris Hall: North & Mid Wales Co-operative Party Education Policy Submission: A Co-operative Education Policy for Wales


Is there a need for Co-operative Education in Wales?

  • What would an ‘excellent‘ Co-operative Education system in Wales look like?
  • How can Co-operative Education in schools engage communities and embrace adult learning?
  • Can curriculum development and teacher training be given a co-operative nudge?
  • What opportunities are opened up by the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015?
  1. If we are serious and determined about the need to transform Wales the surest route must be via a transformative education policy that takes Wales forward in a far more creative direction that ever previously conceived or envisaged. The Welsh Assembly has been clear that it will not be adopting the English strategy of separating schools from LEA’s and creating academies and free schools. Rather than focusing upon structure, a radical co-operative education philosophy could deliver the education improvements needed to move Wales up the world educational ladder toward better performance and a far more valuable outcomes for the local and wider community.
  1. The narrow approach to education focused upon addressing pupil deficits has not served Wales as well as might have been hoped and there is a strong case for developing an education philosophy based upon “capability theory”, which seeks to build upon identified pupil strengths. Co-operative learning could complement this model, as opposed to the relentless competitive approach which pits pupil against pupil, teacher against teacher and school against school throughout Wales.
  1. The nature of co-operation is “bottom up rather than top down” which seeks to engage people and communities by involving and empowering them. A co-operative philosophy could result in a more collaborative approach taken to education by children, in groups across classes, between schools, within local communities and local businesses. Teachers should work more closely as parts of a bigger team; be it within a department, across a discipline or as between a cluster of schools in a defined geographical area.


  1. Whereas head teachers might in the past be driven by individualistic competition and achievement (pupil, department or school), the achievements and rewards applying a co-operative approach could be so much broader and deeper where educational establishments are part of a network of schools or a hub of further and adult education from which business, community, families and whole estates reap the rewards.
  1. This approach is not to rule out competition, nor measurement of attainment and achievement, but the balance between co-operation and competition begins to favour the former, with lesser emphasis but nevertheless some regard for the latter where appropriate.
  1. This would be a sea change in education, but may well find favour from schools, teachers, pupils and parents if they can see that the benefit for the greater good means that wider communities are more closely connected to the education and upbringing of the local pupils, with much more successful outcomes.
  1. The fight for resources on a competitive basis as between schools should be reduced with the new emphasis upon sharing resources, knowledge and skills. Weaknesses are more likely to be addressed on a collective basis and gaps in provision are more easily plugged between a cluster of schools working together. Schools can pool specialisms so that supply and demand are more easily matched up. Teacher shortages can be “smoothed” out across a group of schools working together.
  1. As the upsides of co-operation are learnt, so more co-operation follows in a virtuous circle. Collective working will reap benefits that might previously have been overlooked; covering teacher sickness; organising exams; arranging school trips; funding specialist activities (music, drama, business classes); ensuring sports equipment is available etc.
  1. Teacher training in the broad co-operative philosophy will be crucial if we are to bring about the necessary changes desired. This will need to be properly resourced and will benefit from a pilot process followed by cascading best practice…

Reference to co-operative and co-operation, is not therefore to be wrapped in complex theory or terminology. Using the word “co-operative” (small c) in a much more generalised, basic way could demonstrate the following features, facets and benefits of a co-operative approach to education:

  • Co-operation as an educative process as opposed to competition as an educative process.
  • Co-operation which drives learning through teamwork.
  • Co-operation which offers wider collective outcomes for learning and education.
  • Co-operation as a means of making the learning process and education more fun and more interesting.
  • Co-operation as a more creative way of problem solving and thus learning or educating.
  • Co-operation which has the facets of collaboration and sharing for the widest learning for all, way beyond the individual pupil.
  • Co-operation which emphasizes group learning as opposed to the current predominant individualistic learning process.
  • Co-operation which emphasizes the benefits of this (co-operative) learning process almost as much as the learning outcomes.
  • Co-operation which recognises the value of education for the benefit of the wider community.
  • Co-operation as a philosophy; especially when juxtaposed with competition (capitalism) as the dominant philosophy.
  • An explanation about the 7 principles and 10 values underpinning co-operation. *[1]
  • Co-operation doesn’t have to be about creating co-operatives, but simply working together co-operatively; joint activity, joint goals and learning objectives and joint education all of which enhance the learning process.

Most people do not and will never be creating co-operatives, so this emphasis is more basic and connected with the every day reality of peoples’ lives and thus helps to make a connection more likely and a shared understanding easier. If we can all have co-operation in common, it is more likely to succeed.

A comprehensive co-operative education philosophy would be underpinned by co-operative values and principles*[1].

*[1] Co-operative Values & Principles

Our values


Members joining together and making a difference. Whether it’s supporting a national charity like British Red Cross or working in their local community.


Every member doing their bit, making our co-op a success by supporting its activities and using its products and services. They encourage others to support it too.


All members are equal. Voting power can’t be bought – it’s one member, one vote.


Our co-op gives all members an opportunity to get involved, like campaigning for fair trade.


Co-op is committed to fairness.


Together we’re stronger, so members join together to help their co-op achieve even more

Ethical Values:



Social responsibility

Caring for others

Our principles

Voluntary and open membership

Anyone over 16 who likes the way we do business can join.


Any member can vote, if they’ve spent £250 in a year. That’s only £4.80 a week.

Member economic participation

We want every member to be a loyal customer. It’s our responsibility to give them a good reason to be.

Autonomy and independence

We’re only accountable to our members, not shareholders.

Education, training and information

We’ll give members what they need to play a full part in our business, including all the information they need to make informed choices – whether that’s buying a funeral plan or a loaf of bread.

Co-operation among co-operatives

We work with, and support, other co-operatives in lots of areas, for example, jointly buying from our suppliers to keep prices lower for customers.

Concern for the community

We use our profits to support the local communities we serve and give back to members.

These values and principles will help take Wales through the transformative process necessary to bring about a more confident, independent, inclusive and cohesive society, united and pulling together in the same direction. A co-operative education policy will demonstrate features that mark out this change in direction towards equity, self-responsibility, self help and solidarity. These include:

  1. Greater School Democracy: This will be demonstrated by the involvement of pupils in governance structures such as school councils; which show that accountability and responsibility go hand in hand in mature schools with a true co-operative ethos. It is also more likely to create young people who feel more empowered and engaged with the rest of society when they embark upon a career after leaving school.
  1. “Community of Enquiry”: This is a very democratic approach to deal with a multitude of school issues which allows, indeed empowers pupils, parents, teachers, governors and the local community to have a real say in the way the school is run. The “Community of Enquiry” process is convened as a means of resolving issues between parties by bringing them together resulting in valuable engagement, which demonstrates fundamentally that all parties can have their say and therefore feel they have ownership of the outcomes, by which all are more likely to abide.


“Community of Enquiry” Process (rules of engagement):

One person starts and we all should listen

  • If you want to speak you raise your hand (but should wait to hear what is being said)
  • There could/should be a moment of reflection upon what the last speaker said before hands go up.
  • When the speaker has finished they will choose from the raised hands, the next speaker (baton handover)….
  • Speakers should follow from the last points being made (logical baton change over) rather than changing the subject and appearing to ignore what has just been said.
  • No one should dominate the “community of enquiry” or go on too long.
  • If the point you wished to have made, no longer fits the progress of the conversation; perhaps you have to let the point go…
  • We should move toward a conclusion at an agreed point; everyone who wanted to contribute should have been given an opportunity.
  1. Schools Perceived to have or be owned by “stakeholders”: This is another paradigm shift reflecting the “bottom up rather than top down” approach of the co-operative model. Stakeholders will include, the head teacher, pupils, teachers, parents, the local education authority (LEA), the teaching union(s) and the local community including local businesses. Many nearby businesses would anticipate employing a large number of pupils as they graduate from the school.
  1. Union Learning Representatives (ULR’s): ULR’s will be at the forefront of supported adult learning and second opportunity learning usually in the workplace. Unions are embedded across the workforce so that ULR’s are in a position to reach the workers a more formalistic structures approach to education often fails to reach. Created by the Labour government in 1997, ULR’s have been slowly marginalised in the last decade, so that their potential cannot be realised without a renewed funding, encouragement and support.
  1. Emphasis upon empowerment: In order to maximise the potential of a school, the teaching staff, the head teacher, the pupils, parents and the local community, must be given a sense of empowerment to join in and feel involved with their local school(s) as part of the community.
  1. Renewed emphasis upon the Open University Cymru: The Open University has brought about a more open and accessible education for all, regardless of means and qualifications achieved. Created by the Labour Party in 1969 it would be in the forefront of the democratisation of education in Wales.
  1. Creation of a Co-operative University: This would provide another symbolic shift toward the co-operative ethos, whilst also providing a beacon for all that is best in co-operative thinking and taking forward co-operation in a way that retains its relevance in the 21st century. It would be the generator of new ideas, innovation and business opportunities so that it’s positive influence went far beyond its walls right across Wales.

Education is at the heart of so much that determines all the key metrics of a strong, vibrant and cohesive nation: Levels of poverty, wealth, health, fitness even happiness, confidence and identity are inextricably linked to education. Hence taking the Welsh education system into a more radical co-operative philosophy could fundamentally affect all of the above for the better.  These changes will take many years to establish and embed, but they relate far more to philosophy than to actual structural or physical changes, so that they relate to core values and beliefs, which once understood and shared more widely across Wales the educational transformation and breakthrough could be remarkably dramatic with amazing outcomes for all the communities, villages, towns and cities in Wales.

Chris Hall; North & Mid Wales Co-operative Party


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Are you treated with dignity? A post on Ed Mayo’s blog

Ed Mayo talks about businesses trying to bring dignity into their care services.

Are you treated with dignity? New options in health and social care

[Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative is a not-for-profit multi-stakeholder co-operative that supports people with learning disabilities in Wales, to lead fulfilled lives, at home and in the community. For more information see this video.]

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Coop Education Report Published

The report into last April’s Cooperative Education Community of Enquiry is now available to download.

Cooperative Education: Cooperative Wales

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Researchers from the Japanese Consumer Co-operative Institute visit Wales

Koichi Sato, Yukiko Yamazaki, Jeremy Miles AM, David Smith Co-ops and Mutuals Wales, Karen Wilkie Deputy General Secretary the Cooperative Party.

Researchers from the Japanese Consumer Co-operative Institute with Jeremy Miles AM chair of the Senedd Labour – Co-op Party Group today to discuss the hospitable policy environment in Wales.

Yukiko Yamasaki and Koichi Sato, researchers from the Japanese Consumer Co-operative Institute at a briefing meeting on Welsh Social  Co-op and Citizen Directed models for delivering care services at Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative Cardiff HQ today. This in preparation for a report being prepared to support similar developments in Japan.

Glenn Bowen Enterprise Programme Director Wales Co-operative Centre, Yukiko Yamazaki, Lorna Alcock Co-operative Development Adviser Care to Co-operate, David Smith Co-ops and Mutuals Wales, and Koichi Sato.

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Japan Study Tour Update

Japan Study Tour Update

International Day of Co-operatives Celebration
Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative

5 Coopers Yard, Curran Road, Cardiff

Friday 30 June, 1.00pm

International Co-operators Day highlights we are part of a global movement that seeks to change people’s lives. Each year, the International Co-operative Alliance agrees a special focus and this year’s theme is ‘Co-operatives ensure that no one is left behind.’ We have taken this as an opportunity for knowledge transfer about member participation in co-operatives.

In collaboration with Co-ops and Mutuals Wales, the Social Co-operation Forum is hosting a visit to Wales for Mr Koichi Sato and Ms Yukiko Yamazaki from the Japanese Consumer Co-operative Institute.

Koichi Sato and I met at a Co-ops UK Congress in 2013. Co-op events are renowed for being hospitable and seeing Koichi on his own, we struck up a conversation which has continued since by sharing information of mutual interest.

From sharing information about Welsh Social Co-op developments, Koichi Sato expressed an interest in learning first hand about Disability Wales’ ‘Citizens Directed Co-operatives’. This lead to a visit being planned, and an invite being extended to fellow researcher Yukiko Yamazaki.

During their stay they meet with Care to Co-operate and Wales Co-op Centre colleagues to hear about our pioneering free social co-op support service; Jeff Brattan-Wilson, the Disability Wales Co-operative policy lead; visit our Senedd with Jeremy Miles, AM, chair of the Wales Parliamentary Labour Co-operative Group and participate in our 30 June Social Co-operation Forum meeting.

We are inviting co-operators to attend a lunch which will be followed by an informal discussion with their Japanese guests on ‘Meaningful participation in Co-operatives’. Yukiko will share research on voluntarism in Japanese healthcare co-operatives, whilst Koichi’s contribution includes: an overview of their consumer co-operative movement, co-operative education and member engagement.

The specific organisation of co-ops is very culture dependent. However, exporting into other cultures is risky. So is assuming, something that works in other cultures would work here. Words are not always as they seem, as I discovered talking with a Filipino Co-operative official over a meal  the other night. Housing Co-ops in the Philippines, are not as we would understand them in the UK.

Co-operative education is one area where we can test our differences. In  a recent exchange about an article, Koichi noted the Co-op Group’s campaign against loneliness by “giving communities money” as opposed to my emphasis on “giving communities the mental tools of self- help that can last a hundred years.” If you would like to attend, please e-mail


As for a brief overview of Japanese Co-operative movement including consumer co-ops, the attached site will be a good information source for you.
Facts & Figures:

Roughly speaking, consumer co-ops in Japan have 28 million members.
Average amount of share per member is about £200, with total sales of £20 billion.
Members’ share of sales is 75 percent at stores and 100 percent at home delivery.
Our activities for peace:
International Day of Co-operatives i2016:

Lecture on Co-ops to university students:

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Reimagine the Economy

Co-operatives UK reports on the Co-operative Economy 2017

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Co-working for Creatives

Event organised by BECTU/CULT CYMRU and Wales Co-op Centre for self employed creatives interested in co-operative working.

Wednesday June 21st, Theatr Soar, Pontmorlais West, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47, Wales

To book, go to:-

Continue reading

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Robin Murray

Co-operator and Industrial Economist, author of ‘Co-operation in the Age of Google’, Robin Murray has died. For an appreciation by Hilary Wainwright please follow this link.

For the Guardian obituary, follow this link


Photo:Bethany Murray

David Smith writes:

I will always remember Robin Murray as a person unable to contain his passion for people and ideas. He was fascinated by the particular exemplary initiatives, how they worked, the conditions for their success, and the opportunities presented. This was exemplified by his work as Director of Industry in the Greater London Council and later, Director of Development in the Government of Ontario.

His most significant contributions to the Co-operative Movement was his seminal draft  report commissioned by Co-operatives UK, following Ed Mayo’s appointment as Secretary General

Robin saw strengthening existing co-operative development infrastructure as part of a wider question. That is how changes in private and public services are driven by information technology opening up opportunites for co-operative innovation. His brief also covered current developments in social innovation, community development and international development.

The strength of this report was in its common sense approach in vividly articulating the power of Co-operation, with a visionary freshness about its purpose and the practical means in achieving its realisation across the whole economy. It had the intellectual reach, the like of which we may probably not see again, although some found it challenging.

When reviewing his highly stimulating report (Co-op News, February 2011), I argued it would be of “equal significance to the neglected Gaitskell Commission (1956); or Dr Laidlaw’s report ‘Co-operatives and the Year 2000’ (1983). We would be foolish to ignore this one, written for a fundamentally different age”.

I first met Robin in 2010 at the CUK Congress where we had an intensive conversation about his report which provided a strong analysis and compelling recommendations. This is now extensively cited, but at the time it was ignored by some in the Co-operative movement who should have known better.

When Welsh Government proposed a Co-operative and Mutuals Commission in 2012, I sought Robin’s agreement to be nominated as a Commissioner which he modestly declined. Fortunately, he was persuaded to do so and played a crucial role, including his clear grasp of members taking action to meet their needs. He actively ensured a valued Commission report, sharpened up its recommendations and subsequently followed up its work.

Robin supported Wales Progressive Co-operators in championing Social Care Co-operatives.This campaign from 2008 lead to a major breakthrough in social care policy with its focus upon co-operative solutions contained in the Social Care and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014.

Welsh Progressive Co-operators were the recipients of his excellent advice about the importance of quality. I fondly recall Robin emphasising this in marketing Café Direct as a Fair Trade product, which of course equally applies to social care.

His work in establishing Twin Trading provides an important insight into the values of networking and collaboration: how individual initiatives have shaped what Fair Trade is and how it works, and where ordinary individuals and small institutions serve as extraordinary role models for the movement.

I know how difficult it is to lose an important person in one’s life. When my mother, Hilda Smith died in 2013, Robin said that departed loved ones are always with us. This made me reflect and was inspired to build upon her legacy. It also explains my focus upon Co-operative Education if we are  to build a Co-operative Wales. May we all be inspired by Robin in our future work when actively promoting ‘Co-operation in the Age of Google’.

Alex Bird writes

I worked with Robin on the Age of Google, which involved long discussions on worker ownership and the french retail co-operative business model, and also, later, on a worldwide Principal Six networking event at the Twin Trading AGM in Abergavenny in September 2010. He was a delight to work with; very bright, very kind, and above all very co-operative in the way he worked. He made a great contribution to the movement. He will be sorely missed.

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An event surely not to miss!

23rd June – Cardiff

How we can build a culture that embeds co-operative and mutual principles and collaborative approaches in Welsh life.

For tickets, go to:-

Someone who knows says: “A must attend event for all Welsh Co-operators”

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Co-operative Group AGM Motion 9

CMW Executive Member Chris Hall tackled the issue of pay ratios at the Co-operative Group’s AGM last Saturday.

To see him talking about the motion, watch this clip:

To read the transcript follow this link:


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Co-working for Creatives – Soar Theatre, 21st June 2017

To book your free place – go to Eventbrite

To book your free place – go to Eventbrite

Further details at

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