A co-operative is as strong as its members

It’s taken me a while to write this post as I’ve been struggling to find the right tone, so the first word of the next paragraph has changed from ‘Today’ to ‘Yesterday’ to ‘Last Sunday’. I hope in the end I hit the right note. I am disappointed, but I’m also hopeful because I think we’ve found a positive way forward.

Today Yesterday Last Sunday was Lordship Hub Co-op’s annual general meeting (AGM), well, it was supposed to be, but the meeting couldn’t go ahead because of the 130+ members we have, fewer than 10 turned up. We need at least 15 for the meeting to be quorate. Now, this may seem like technicality, but the Co-op can’t legally function without an AGM. And the fact that the Hub is run as a co-operative is important. It means that it is owned by the community. But that ownership is not merely a one-off transaction – buying a share – it is about exercising the right to make decisions about something that we own collectively for the community.

To be more than just a nice cafe and venue, we need our members and we need them to be involved in making decisions about the future of our Hub.

A way forward

So on Sunday, rather than having our meeting, we discussed what we could do to get more members more involved in making decisions (and how we could have a functional AGM).

  • It was agreed that formal meetings are off-puting for some people.
  • The AGM should not be a meeting but rather more like an Open Day where we show off everything that’s happening at the Hub, give people the chance to drop in, offer suggestions and ask questions.
  • We should have a series of important questions posted up in the Hub and online and ask members to offer ideas and help make the decisions.
  • We need to be clearer about what the benefits of being a member are and who is and isn’t one.

Next steps

Open Day, Sunday 26th February

So on Sunday, February 26th from 11.15-13.30 we’re having an Open Day. It will be stalls and exhibitions from many of the groups, clubs and activities that the Hub hosts. You are all invited to drop-in, wander round and find out about what has been happening at the Hub over the last year, and to help form our plans for what should happen this year. There will be free refreshments.

During this day we’ll have a short AGM to approve those formal issues that have to be agreed to keep us legal.

Online discussion and decision-making

We’ll post all the reports about what has been happening this year on the website as a series of articles and we encourage you to ask questions and offer suggestions in the comments below and/or come along to the Open Day to discuss them with the people who wrote them.

We will set up a space online and a board in the Hub to allow members to post ideas, discuss and make decisions on issues concerning the Hub.

Am I a member?

Being a member means you have ownership of the Hub: you own one or more shares in it (you’ll have a certificate) and you take an interest in its success and a role in its decision-making.

If you are not sure whether you’re a member, please email asher@lordshiphub.org.uk and I’ll let you know.