Co-op and Mutual Housing: Wales Leads the Way

Co-operation as a concept and movement came early to Wales and historian Alun Burge has charted its origins from the mid 1800s on. This included a co-op set up by the Chartists in the 1840s and the Cwmbach Society, modelled on the Rochdale pioneers, set up in 1859 and enduring for over a hundred years.

Alan concluded that it was always….

‘much more than trading; it was a way of life for many and provided extensive social provision as well as economic activity. In his words Co-operative societies gave support from the ‘cradle to the grave’ and local Societies were, according to one observer ‘the biggest thing in the valleys outside of the coal industry’

There is a renewed interest in co-operative and mutual housing in Wales but there are also historic precedents. Take for example, Co-operative Street in Ton Pentre, 50 homes built by the local Society for their members to live in. As they say nothing is really new!

The Co-operative Housing Project, has worked with local people across Wales over the past 6 years to develop co-op housing options for nearly 400 people, in 8 different communities. Hosted by the Wales Co-operative Centre, the project is funded by Welsh Government and the Nationwide Foundation.

This an exciting time for democratic governance – not just in terms of new housing co-ops but initiatives such as the Merthyr Valleys Homes tenant /staff mutual.

In the words of Alan Burge…

‘Co-operatives have come a long way since Rochdale and Cwmbach’

And housing is playing its part in not just keeping the flame alive, but supporting co-operation in new and exciting ways across Wales.

Dave Palmer Co-operative Housing Project Manager

Keith Edwards independent consultant

Dave and Keith will be exploring the lessons that co-op and mutual housing has to offer the sector at the CHC Governance Conference on 8th and 9th March

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