The social co-operation movement has a long and varied history. David Smith, Wales Progressive Co-operators, has provided an insight into the movement in Wales:
We started planning in September 2008, with a large appreciative inquiry taking place in March 2010, at the offices of Caerphilly County Council, with funding from the Co-operative. Adrian Roper and Cartrefi Cymru followed up with an event in the Rhondda later that year.
I heard John Restakis speak as Chief Executive of the British Columbia Co-operative Association about Quebec and Bologna social care movements at a Co-operatives UK Congress in June 2011 and our social co-op journey in Wales began to gather momentum.
Jean-Pierre Girard, a Co-operative consultant and academic who had the same message, was to due to speak at a Paris medical conference in February 2012 and en route from Quebec a thirty-six hour visit was agreed. This was financed by Cymru / Wales Co-operative Membership, Public Health Alliance Cymru and the Welsh Food Alliance as our contribution to UN Year 2012 Year of Co-operatives.
The key aspect was Jean-Pierre presenting detailed evidence we had commissioned for a National Assembly for Wales Health and Social Services Committee: Residential Care Inquiry, including a summary of a Canadian ‘Elder Care Co-op’s report by John Restakis. The presentation had been previously agreed with the chair Mark Drakeford AM, who had been briefed in July 2011.
Meetings took place with Gwenda Thomas AM, the Social Services Minister, Edwina Hart AM, the Business Minister, housing and equalities official. Vaughan Gething AM chaired a reception for Assembly members, Rosemary Butler AM sponsored a public meeting and BBC Radio Wales featured a ten-minute interview before Jean-Pierre presented to the Assembly committee.
Jean-Pierre’s visit was followed by a four-day speaking tour with John Restakis across Wales in June 2012. We held fourteen meetings and reached 900 people across a wide variety of key stakeholders. These were timely.
- They gave a robust international perspective in UN 2012 Year of Co-operatives, evidencing the practical relevance of co-operation
- It was a good time to influence forthcoming Welsh Social Services, Housing and Sustainable Development legislation
- The global financial crisis and its implications has enabled us to rethink responses to growing unmet needs based upon international experience
- With support from Adrian Roper at Cartrefi Cymru, we were able to stimulate a great deal of interest across civic society.
In this pamphlet (below) we evidence the success story in Quebec. To emphasise, this requires both co-operative education and interested members if we are to create local self help social co-ops to support future developments in Wales and further afield.’
‘Social Care Co-operatives; A success story in Quebec’
Additional resources and background information can be downloaded from the links below:
- Network 3 report on ‘Shaping the Future of Care; Should Co-op models become a valued part of Welsh Health & Social care provision’ October 2010: Shaping the Future of Care.
- Robin Murray spoke at a recent National Federation of Progressive Co-operators meeting on a review undertaken for Co-operatives UK titled ‘Co-operation in the Age of Google’. David Smith* reports on how the Progressives are using this report to stimulate debate and inform future policy development.
- A learning consultation to inform and support the transformation of Social Services in Wales.
- Wales Progressive Co-operators; A Practical Co-operative approach to Social Services.
- Wales Progressive Co-operators; Response to the Sustainable Development Bill consultation.
- ‘Voice, Choice and Control for Older People – a Co-operative Future’ submission by David Smith, Wales Progressive Co-operators.