Lending and Relationship Manager Kevin Lloyd-Evans joined our team in January. Here, at 100 days in post, he reflects on what he’s seen and learned so far.
Co-operative and Community Finance (CCF) will celebrate its 50th year in 2023. Since 1973 we have been responding to the needs of Co-ops and Community Business across the UK. I joined in January 2022, and have spent three months learning about the organisation, its history, people, culture, partners, and the customers we serve. I have really enjoyed learning about the Co-op Movement. Two things have really stood out for me at this early stage and partly explains the longevity of the company’s success: its values, and the depth of support it provides across the UK.
CCF is built on core Co-op principles and values. These principles give clarity and cohesion to activities which underpin all aspects of work. Not only is CCF clear about the social outcomes it seeks to achieve, but it is clear about the way those social outcomes are achieved. This really gives the organisation a clear sense of social mission and purpose.
Equity, Equality and Caring for Others are embedded in the Co-op Movement and part of the DNA. Recent research by Co-ops UK has stated that young people align closely with Co-op values when looking to start new businesses. The social nature of work and related benefits of a positive work environment were brought into focus with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people are now looking for new ways to live and work more aligned with Co-op approaches and philosophy.
CCF is a national lender across Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. It is great to see Co-ops flourishing across the UK. I recently visited Boundary Brewery in Belfast who are opening Northern Ireland’s first community pub. CCF has helped Boundary Brewery expand and grow, with two previous loans. We are now working with other partners and alongside a community share raise to support the opening of Taproom (a bar directly connected to a brewery). The taproom will create ten new jobs and embraces community ownership.
In Scotland we are supporting Dunbar Bakery based in the Coastal Town of Dunbar, East Lothian. We were able to provide investment support to purchase new equipment. The bakery is helping keep the local high street active and employs local people. Young people benefit from apprenticeships opportunities.
In Wales we are working with Co-ops on community housing. Having a national presence has helped CCF respond to regional demand and better serve the sector.
Another couple of days to look forward to are the Worker Co-op Weekend at the end of the month. This is an opportunity to meet Co-operators from across the UK who have helped create and steer the sector over recent years.
At 100 day in, I can say I am really enjoying being part of the CCF team and the broader Co-op Movement. Working directly with businesses who are rooted in their communities is like nothing else – I’m looking forward to my next 200 days, and beyond.
I am always happy to talk about any potential or existing lending – my contact details are on this page