In Oldham we have been on our co-operative journey for the last five years which has been an exciting, and at times challenging journey, in our attempt to make Oldham a place where everyone does their bit and everyone benefits.
Our whole-system approach has seen us actively encouraging residents to take part in decision making, using our spending power to secure added social value for residents, as well as scaling even greater heights in terms of our partnership working – all of which are helping us towards our joint ambition for a co-operative future.
2017 will be another exciting year for Oldham. In September 2016 we launched our Your Oldham campaign. Your Oldham celebrates our progress so far, while giving us the opportunity to speak to residents and partners about their hopes and dreams for Oldham over the next five years. We want everyone who lives, works, studies or visits Oldham to consider what Oldham means to them and to have a say and a stake in Oldham’s future.
People are genuinely excited to share their visions for Oldham and want to get involved. So far, 71 people from across the borough have already signed-up to be directly involved as Celebration Makers and hundreds more have told us what Oldham means to them – and it’s really inspiring stuff! In May the campaign will culminate with the Your Oldham festival: a week-long series of events and activities designed to inform, engage and inspire people who live and work in Oldham. You can find out more about our Your Oldham campaign by visiting: https://www.youroldham.coop
All this is really good stuff, but comes with a health warning: becoming a co-operative council isn’t a quick fix, it takes time, effort and a genuine desire to work with communities (as well as others!) in new and different ways. However, help is at hand; through sharing knowledge and best practice, Oldham has benefitted hugely over the last five years from being a member of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network. Being able to pick up the phone and speak with colleagues from Edinburgh to Plymouth and Cardiff to Norwich about co-operative working has really helped shape our co-operative journey.
So this New Year why not commit to sharing your co-operative learning and best practice with other CCIN Members?
If you are reading this and you’re not already a network member, why not get in touch? We are always happy to talk about our work or help you get started on your own co-operative journey.
Remember, if everybody does their bit, everybody really can benefit.
I wish you all a very co-operative 2017.
Councillor Barbara Brownridge
Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives at Oldham Council
Member of the CCIN’s Executive Oversight Committee.