Unemployment is a blight on towns across the UK – and in areas where it may appear to be less of a problem, such as the South West where we work, there is often a bigger problem of underemployment: deskilling, low wages, and exploitation.
We believe that there is an alternative – communities can develop sustainable trading businesses, led by community activists, whose focus is to create decent jobs. By running these businesses as a multi-stakeholder co-operative, the workers can play an active part in its management. That boosts skills, self esteem and leads to more community enterprise.
The third piece of the jigsaw is social investment – and Somerset Co-op Services is a pioneer in the field of bringing investment to co-operatives. We have raised over £400,000 for co-ops and mutuals in recent years – now we want to apply everything we have learnt to the difficult task of creating jobs for those who are most excluded from the labour force.
It isn't going to be easy – and that's why we can't fund the work in the normal way. We need your help to bring about real innovation and create businesses that will inspire others to replicate them across the UK (we believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we won't stop anyone copying our ideas – in fact, we'll help).