What is a Co-op

Co-operatives are ventures controlled by their members who each have one vote. Decisions are made democratically by those involved, not by outside owners. Co-ops have traditionally been and continue to be grassroots, community based organisations with a particular sensitivity to ecological and social justice issues. They are a vehicle for disadvantaged groups and communities to take control over their local environment by working together for the common good. Co-ops exist all around the world as viable and concrete alternatives to the excesses of multinational capitalism.


There are three types of co-op in Radical Routes:


Workers co-ops are businesses run democratically by those who work in them. All permanent employees normally become members of the co-op after serving a probationary period. Profits are kept by the co-operative and there is often a strong commitment to skill sharing. All Radical Routes co-ops must be involved in socially useful work, promoting co-operative principles to the wider community.


Housing co-ops are set up to provide housing for their members. Property is bought or leased by the co-op and rented out to members. People on low incomes are eligible for housing benefit towards their rent. For many people in insecure housing, these co-ops offer a welcome chance of decent, secure accommodation. Many Radical Routes housing co-ops also provide facilities for other co-operatives, community projects or resource centres.


Social Centres are private members clubs collectively owned and controlled by their membership. The most recent type of co-op to join Radical Routes, they serve a wide range social functions, from bars and function rooms to bookshops and offices. The club allows those working for social change, together with a wider circle of people, to have control over their social space and its resources. The membership elects a committee of management which runs the club, and is re-elected annually.


"A co-operative business belongs to the people who use it – people who have organised to provide themselves with the goods and services they need. A co-operative operates for the benefit of its members. These member-owners share equally in the control of their co-operative."

National Association of Co-operative Business, USA
BM Rootstock, London, WC1N 3XX. info [@] rootstock.org.uk 0870 458 1132