When a group of us realised that the Hub needed to be run by the community if it was really going to be for the community we decided that a co-operative would be the structure that really allowed this to happen. The strength of a co-operative is that it brings in new ideas, new expertise and new people: each of them having an equal role in its success and an equal say in how it runs. It is something that is genuinely owned by its members; people are literally invested in it, they don’t just donate to it or expect it to be there as a service.
As an organisation we are facing a number of challenges right now:
- We are a new organisation and our trade is seasonal, so this winter our finances are very tight.
- We pay all our staff a real living wage (£11.50ph) and give them stable working hours throughout the year, so opening longer is expensive.
- Improvements need to be made to the building, but Council cuts mean we can’t complete the negotiations on the lease that would give us the stability to do this.
- We recently had to register for and pay VAT which means prices need to go up, but we want to keep the café affordable.
- We need to do more promotion but staff and volunteers are already over-stretched.
None of these challenges are insurmountable if we approach them as community, drawing on all of our ideas, expertise and commitment. The strength of a co-operative is strength in numbers, in the range of people involved. If at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday the 31st January it’s just the same people who come to Board meetings each month and the same people who come to Members’ meetings every two months, then the questions we’ll ask and the answers we’ll come up with will be the same.
We want everyone and anyone who comes to the Hub for coffee, to feed the swans, to use the toilet, volunteer, work or just wants it to succeed to come along, ask questions, offer suggestions and get involved in coming up with solutions.
With all of us working together you know the Hub will thrive.