In Rochdale Borough:

  • 12% of 16 – 64 year olds have no qualifications,
  • an employee makes on average £114 less a week than the national average,
  • there are 6 jobs for every 10 people, compared to 9 for every 10 nationwide, and
  • over half the 31 health indicators measured by Public Health England in 2018 performed significantly worse than the England average.

* Top three above statistics taken from the NOMIS Official Labour Market Statistics – May 2019

The bottom line is that Rochdale’s economy is continuing to struggle following deindustrialisation.  Meanwhile a substantial proportion of its population is living in poverty and hardship.  The problems are many. They are complex and interconnected.  The economic model employed by Western Society in recent decades has benefited some people, but for communities such as Rochdale it has entrenched problems.  Making matters worse, a decade of reducing public spending has meant, public services are less able to cope.

Rochdale Stronger Together then comes at an important time with a new narrative; a successful, tried and tested set of principles to lead Rochdale out of hardship and back to prosperity. 

The new narrative is of community wealth building; leveraging existing strengths within the community and building on them to further boost local benefit.  The anchor institutions have a key role to play; large-scale employers, large purchasers of goods and services in the locality and controllers of large areas of land or fixed assets.

Community Wealth Building has its roots embedding in co-operation and calls for local leadership, local information, local vision and local endeavour.  It requires understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the local economy; places a greater emphasis on social capital; engages with local people and unlocks trapped potential.  By forging new relationships at community and Borough levels it brings together people, resources, information and aspiration to help incubate the grassroots of the local economy.  This strips away barriers for local individual people and organisations and allows them to collaborate, succeed and thrive.  The goal is more community businesses, so that wealth is created locally by local people and that it is shared fairly and that it remains local.

Rochdale Stronger Together was launched in 2016 by the Rochdale Borough Social Enterprise and Co-operative Forum after its members were inspired by co-operative successes in Mondragon, Spain  –  Cleveland, Ohio, USA and Preston, UK. Despite minimal resourcing not only has Rochdale Stronger Together secured a good deal of support from the community and local leaders, it has also achieved a great deal.  To meet its full potential Rochdale Stronger Together is looking to bolster the resources it has to achieve its goals.  This requires informing leaders and community members as to its potential and demonstrating that Rochdale Stronger Together deserves their trust.

To help do this, last July in response to a call for evidence as part of the Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission, the initiative’s organisers made a detailed submission by video and in a written report. The submission included contributions from a wide range of local, regional, national and international leaders and stakeholders for community wealth building. 

Collectively we called for Greater Manchester Cooperative Commission to recommend:

  • Support for locally identified leaders so they have the time to champion and drive community wealth building activity in their community,
  • Advocating for programmes such as Rochdale Stronger Together to encourage partners to engage,
  • Senior level mentoring to be offered to help local programmes on their mission of trust building,
  • The provision of a menu of Greater Manchester resources and institutions available to offer support,
  • Offering invitations to local programme to relevant networking events.

Most of all the Commission was asked to recommend a focus on funding place-based initiatives such as Rochdale Stronger Together so that they can become full-time programmes that incubate ecosystems that enable local cooperative business development to succeed.

Rochdale Stronger Together is delighted to now share its submission to the Co-operative Commission here.  Below is an abridged version of the original video and a link to the full written submission.  We would be delighted to receive your feedback in the comments below.

Abridged Rochdale Stronger Together video response to the Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission call for evidence.

Transforming Rochdale: A co-operative anchor institution based approach to Community Wealth Building in Rochdale Borough
Rochdale Stronger Together written response to the Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission call for evidence

Rochdale Stronger Together would like to thank the following for their contributions to the submission to Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission:

Dr Cilla Ross, Principal , Co-operative College

Professor Fiona Devine, Head of School ,  Alliance Manchester Business School

Richard Tang, Chair, Zen Internet

Sarah McKinley, Director of European Projects, The Democracy Collaborative

Deborah Lyon, Director for LCO Development, Rochdale & Bury Care Organisation

Sharon Drysdale, Graphic Design Tutor, Hopwood Hall College

Gemma Obeng, Programme Manager, Co-operative College

Dr Julian Manley, Chair, Preston Co-operative Development Network

Ander Etxeberria, Co-operative Dissemination, Mondragon, Corporation

Steve Taylor, Chief Officer for Bury & Rochdale,  Northern Care Alliance

Aine Graven, Chair of Buy Local Workstream, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

Anna Russell, Brand Design Competition Winner, Hopwood Hall College

Neil McInroy, Chief Executive, Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)

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