Trust helps bring Community Shares to Northern Ireland
The Building Change Trust and Co-Operative Alternatives are leading the way in developing a community shares programme in Northern Ireland.
In April, the Building Change Trust contracted Co-operative Alternatives to promote community shares in Northern Ireland and explore the potential with the Community and Voluntary Sector.
Since then, Co-operative Alternatives has been working with various enterprises, community development associations, local campaigners to discuss how community shares are a meaningful and democratic way to engage with a community who support and recognise the social value of an initiative.
The Trust has commissioned a pilot from Coop Alternatives at a cost of £160,000 over 2 years with the aim of supporting the development of 5 community benefit societies raising finance through share offers and that the initiative will be independently evaluated with the aim of learning lessons to inform future developments.
This is a new and exciting way for people within communities to invest in them. Communities can engage with an initiative by buying a share in it.
Community shares are a unique form of share called “withdrawable share” which can be issued by co-operatives and community benefit societies, with more than 120 successful community share offers having been made in the United Kingdom since 2009.
The highest profile example of the Community Shares scheme is FC United of Manchester, which was formed after the acrimonious purchase of Manchester United by the Glazer family.
FC United of Manchester helped to pioneer the use of community shares and were one of the first sports clubs to launch a community share offer, raising £1.7 million; they now own the ground facility which allows them to offer their local community much more than football.
Here in Northern Ireland, people are seeking to re-claim buildings and spaces with the intention of running them for the good of their local communities.
In Bangor, Louise Macartnery (pictured above) and Marianne Kennerley are hoping re-claim Hamilton House – a building in the city centre – and, under the banner of ""Bangor Shared Space"", run it as a not-for-profit organisation.
With a re-energised business approach gradually creating a surplus of funds, they hope to eventually redevelop this site.
Co-Operative Alternatives’ Tiziana O’Hara said: “Underused buildings and facilities have been popular targets of community campaigns. It is not only about saving the physical space, it is about revitalising the community by involving and engaging everyone who recognises the social value of the place.
“The Bangor Shared Space project needs the buy-in of the community to be a successful one and we believe that community shares model can be considered in this context, alongside with other funding initiatives, and could really work for them”.
From September 2013, Co-operative Alternatives will run a series of thematic workshops called “Community Owned – Community Shared” which aim to inspire our local communities to be innovative and creative in the way they engage with their members, for more information visit their website at www.coopalternatives.coop or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust Director of Operations, said: “The Building Change Trust is committed to developing and testing out new forms of Social Finance and encouraging Social Innovation in Northern Ireland.
“With this in mind, we are really excited to be working alongside Co-Operative Alternatives to bring Community Shares programmes to Northern Ireland.
“On top of this work, the Trust has commissioned a pilot from Coop Alternatives at a cost of £160,000 over 2 years with the aim of supporting the development of 5 community benefit societies raising finance through share offers.
"Seeing the success in the rest of the UK, we feel this type of community buy-in and investment could really take off".