Equal Care Co-op are incorporated as a multi-stakeholder co-operative, giving their primary members (the givers and receivers of care and support) ownership of the company, technology, dividend and decision-making.
Initially set up in the Calder Valley, they are using platform technology to enable workers and people getting support to choose one another and be in control of their lives and livelihoods. The platform allows access to a mix of professional support, help from the community and from others getting support.
Using technology, the platform gives greater control to people in need of care to identify the right carers to suit their needs, and for care workers to choose employment types and hours that suit them. The platform reduces the paperwork and lowers costs, whilst at the same time improves the quality of care for the care and quality of work for the caregiver.
How did they do it?
Equal Care Co-op ran a successful Crowdfunder campaign that was backed by the Community Shares Starter Fund (funded by Power to Change, delivered by Crowdfunder in May 2019), successfully raising £22,050 with 198 supporters in 201 days.
This enabled them to run a pilot project in Hebden Bridge, buy-in developer experience, cover start-up costs and attract new supporters. In addition, they have secured nearly £80,000 of feasibility and development funding from Nesta, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Access Foundation and UnLtd.
They also recently ran a successful community share offer in August 2019 that was ‘boosted’ by matched funding up to £100,000, provided through the Power to Change Community Shares Booster Programme. They raised £410,910 from 173 investors. The community share offer means this new innovative community business can fund the technology required as well as cover key costs such as registration to the Care Quality Commission, governance development, recruitment and promotion.
The great thing about having carers in my village is that they are on my doorstep, so I trust that they’ll come in all weathers - they won’t let me down
Making a difference to real people
Equal Care Co-op have started locally and are setting up two pilot circles of care and support – one in Hebden Bridge and one in Blackshaw Head. They have started to match-up people giving and receiving support and the ‘circles’ are slowly growing. This reduces isolation and the vulnerability of people, particularly in rural areas. In addition, local people are getting involved by volunteering and joining the new ‘circles’ that bring people together.
How is it community-led?
Equal Care Co-op incorporate ethics, governance and social accountability by creating a culture of membership and control. They’re using alternative ways to govern themselves and make decisions called ‘circle’ governance – this is a method of organising called sociocracy which is different to traditional hierarchical structures.