Goodbye 2017, hello 2018

2017 was a busy, productive year at the Wales Co-operative Centre.

We took the opportunity to review our strategy in light of Brexit and other changes to the policy and funding environment in which we work.

As a result our purpose is now broader. We retain our leading position as Wales’s social business development agency as well as in digital and financial inclusion. But we are now playing a wider role in working for a fairer economy. We are helping to create and retain wealth within our communities, through support for a broader range of economic interventions and by providing people with the skills to take more control of their own lives and strengthen their communities.

Hope Rescue is one example of a social business that we have supported to win new contracts and expand its operation.

We made a good start on this new journey by launching a variety of new initiatives. The new phase of the ‘Your Money, Your Home’ initiative began in March. It is financed by the Money Advice Service and helps tenants in the Private Rented Sector at risk of homelessness due to money problems. My Digital Life, funded by the Nominet Trust, is increasing digital skills amongst some of the Wales’s most disadvantaged young people. Our Agile Skills project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, will develop a digital volunteering tool that enables third sector organisations to make better asks and manage volunteers at each stage in the process: from their interest in a role, right through to getting feedback on their first day.

Last year our programme delivery remained at a high standard. We worked with many businesses to grow and create new jobs. We assisted many thousands of individuals to improve their lives and livelihoods.

One example of this success is the increasing number of organisations that have signed up to the Digital Inclusion Charter for Wales, which is now beyond 250.

Other highlights of the year included gaining recognition for the way we work. We are now recognised as a Disability Confident organisation, a Living Wage employer and have just been accredited with Investors in People at the gold standard. We strive hard to ensure the Wales Co-operative Centre is a stimulating and supportive workplace so it is fantastic when this is confirmed by others.

Over the next year we will further increase the variety of what we do to meet the aims of our new strategy. We have exciting plans in development and hope to be able to publicise some of these innovative ideas early in 2018.

Everything we do is shaped by our own commitment to co-operative values and our close collaboration with funders and delivery partners to achieve both social and economic goals. We look forward to working with you in 2018.

Happy New Year.

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