Co-operative Street Preacher, my travels in praise of Co-operatives Fortnight 2013

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Bear pit teamYou’ve heard of traveling salesmen and maybe journeymen chef’s, have you also heard of street preachers? Well I’m beginning to find myself turning into a ‘Co-operative Street Preacher’ just as well then that 2013’s Co-operatives Fortnight has begun!

Last week I found myself in Bristol and on the advice of a friend headed down to the ‘Bearpit’, an underpass in the city centre.  Once notorious for it’s crime and alcohol problems, the Bearpit is now famed for it’s community regeneration into an enterprising social and shopping spot.

As soon as I entered the Bearpit my eye was drawn to the fresh and inviting fruit and veg on display at the ‘Bearpit Social’, a cafe come shop in the centre of the underpass.  Being of a nosey nature I got chatting to the Bearpit team about how their venture started. This in turn led to me talking about the True Food Co-op; the community owned Co-operative of which I’m the Communications Coordinator.

Whilst the barista ‘did his thing, making impressive coffee’s and vibrantly green matcha latte’s, we talked Co-ops, Community Interest Companies (CIC’s) and Social Enterprises. And on the eve of Co-operatives Fortnight we talked about the specific challenges of running a community business. 

Bearpit barista

Whilst the huge challenge of running a membership co-op like True Food is balancing the wants of 500 owners, the benefit of being a registered co-op is the structure it provides both legal and financial.

Whatever incorporation path you choose Bearpit Social, I raise a matcha latte to you and wish you the best of luck with your plucky venture. And to anyone thinking about setting up a co-op, well in Co-operatives Fortnight 2013 there has never been better time to find out more.

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