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Wales Progressive Co-operators - Activities to date

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WPC is currently working in close partnership with Cartrefi Cymru, the national third sector social care agency, on a long-term strategic programme of activities aimed particularly at identifying and promoting co-operative solutions to the challenges of social care in Wales. For activities to date go to:

• A Study Day in Caerphilly in 2010 (under the auspices of WCVA’s Network 3) which brought together the co-operative movement and the social care third sector for the first time, resulting in the report “Shaping the Future of Care”.
• A PSMW seminar in Cardiff in 2011 (in partnership with Public Service Management Wales) in which the international co-operative specialist Robin Murray spoke about the ideas in his book “Co-operation in the Age of Google”.
• A seminar in Abercwmboi in 2011 (in partnership with Interlink RCT and VAMT) which brought together a range of speakers about co-operation and social care, leading to an application for funding for a disability employment co-operative in RCT which is still proceeding.
• Submission of detailed evidence in 2011 and 2012 to the National Assembly Health and Social Care Committee Inquiry into Residential Care, including the commissioning of separate evidence from Canadian Co-operative Care specialists – Jean-Pierre Girard and John Restakis, especially related to the multi-stakeholder model.
• A visit to Wales in February 2012 by Jean-Pierre Girard to share knowledge of the home care co-operatives in Quebec to Welsh Ministers, the H&SC Committee and grassroots activities.
• A seminar in May 2012 which brought together members of the co-operative movement, central and local government, the third sector and citizens, to identify a way forward for the nurturing of co-operative care options in Wales. This seminar has particularly informed a detailed WPC response to the Social Services (Wales) Bill.
• Detailed planning for a visit in June 2012 of the leading Canadian co-operative expert John Restakis to speak to Ministers and AMs, the PSMW summer school, the joint conference of WACDS and WCVA’s Network 3, the ADSS Cymru conference, and grassroots meetings in Newport, Cardiff, Neath/Port Talbot and Conwy.
• Adrian Roper, Chief Executive of Cartrefi Cymru will be presenting on our social care work at the Co-operative Membership/IWA conference on Friday 6th July – see detail on this web site.
• Various articles have been written to increase public awareness and understanding of what is distinctive about the contribution of the Co-operative movement, and in particular the multi- stakeholder co-operative model, is well under way and can be found on this web site.
• A co-operative response to the forthcoming Welsh Government consultation on Citizen Directed Support and the preparation of evidence for the passage of the Social Services (Wales) Bill is well under way and informed by public participation.

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Hilda Smith: a tribute by the Chair of the S Wales Area Committee, the Co-operative, 9 April 2013

As I’m sure you are all aware - with the death of Hilda Smith last month at the great age of 94 - Co-operation has lost a great advocate and worker. Hilda was a former member of this Committee and in such circumstances members would normally take the opportunity of a Committee meeting to pay tributes.

Our circumstances on this occasion are rather different as we have Hilda’s son David as one of our current members.

David has intimated to me that he has been very touched and moved by all the letters and cards of sympathy he has received from Co-operative colleagues expressing sadness at Hilda’s passing and for the wonderful contributions she has made.

He does not feel that he could emotionally cope with a series of tributes this evening and in these circumstances what I propose to do, as Chair, is to make a SINGLE tribute on behalf of us all, followed by a period of silence during which we can all privately reflect on Hilda as a person and a co-operator.

I have known Hilda for getting on for 20 years –not as long as some on this Committee have known her – but still a long time. When she joined the South Wales Committee of the Co-operative Group, I think in 2009, she must have been by a long stretch, its oldest “new” member, although she had been a member of many co-op committees before.

She was very active in what can now be seen as a golden age of Co-operation in the 1930’s and was particularly engaged in the campaigning illustrated in the wonderful films of the London Co-operative Society, with themes of Internationalism, Education Pacifism and Feminism. We have to remember, Hilda was not all that far behind the Pankhurst’s and she was born just after the ending of the First World War.

As many of us know, Hilda was completely passionate about what she believed in and was always a strong advocate for the same.  She was always a master of her brief and fastidious in studying her papers and making reasoned and detailed contributions.

She had a powerful intellect but was still very interested in making practical observations about what a store should stock, what services it should give to the customers/ members and how they could be engaged at shop level.

I remember her observing back in the early days of Recession, that the support work of the Co-operative Group, through such things as the Community Divided Fund would become far more vital, as Public Expenditure Cuts bite and she is being proven right.

To think when she arrived in South Wales in 1986, she did not come for a rest, because at the age of 76, she set about with vigour in a whole new co-operative and mutual scene.

 She was instrumental in establishing the Newport University of the Third Age, The Wales Food Alliance- together with David – which had a number of collaborations with the Group. She was a member of the WG Older Persons Advisory Committee and made a considerable contribution to policy formulation. Of late she has been engaged in modelling social enterprises to deliver home care.

I last saw Hilda at the Members meeting last year at St Fagan’s, when the meeting was somewhat hijacked by Disability Rights Protesters.  I will remember her contribution for a very long time. She was not prepared to sit idly by but rose to make an impassioned speech about how Co-operatives had been at the forefront of protecting and promoting the rights of the disabled for getting on for 100 years.

David, Hilda was highly principled, creative, dynamic not just a thinker and dreamer about the Co-operative Commonwealth but who has actually contributed to help make it happen over 60 or 70 years.

We are all the better for knowing her and she has left you with much to live up to!

Brian Rees

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