The "Hackney Co-operative Developments" and the empowerment of local communities

What characterize organisations such as HCD is the particular structure of the organisation: democratic governance, clear social aims and re-investment of profits in the services for the community

The management of community assets is an issue of growing importance during last years. Europe is facing financial and constitutional crisis likely to lead to government reform. Nowadays states are re-inventing their role in the relationship with citizens and in the production of policies. In this context the planning and provision of services have became more difficult. Every country is changing its approach towards welfare and the third sector.
As a student of social politics I wish to contribute to this new approach and have decided to spend my internship on the analysis of a particular social enterprise, the community-led organisation. I have chosen the UK because I think it offers many useful example. After a long research I have found a company that can be a good case study for my degree thesis about the management of community asset. This organisation is Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD).

What is a Community Interest Company?

Founded in 1982, HCD is a key actor of the local social economy. It is a Community interest Companies, the organisation structure created in the 2006 by the British govern to facilitate social enterprise development. HCD works every day in close quarters with Hackney’s disadvantage people. What characterize organisations such as HCD is the particular structure of the organisation: democratic governance, clear social aims and re-investment of profits in the services for the community.
The borough is situated in a part of north-east London which is changing its socio-economic structure from a suburban and abandoned zone to a vibrant quarter. New clubs and fashion coffee shops are bringing more attention and investment to Hackney but gentrification, in some cases, does not offer new opportunities for local people. The borough continues to be a disadvantage zone and ethnic minority, in particular, suffer social problems such as: unemployment, low-paid wages and educational deprivation. The use of the social enterprise model adapted to local needs can provide significant impact:

– They are more likely than conventional businesses to employ people from ethnic communities and at competitive wages. (Mapping London’s Ethnic Minority Social Enterprises, Sam Obeng-Dokyi, 2007);
– The majority (52%) of social enterprises actively employ people who are disadvantaged in the labour market (for example: long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, disabled people). 84% of social enterprises recruit staff locally, their spend stays in the local economy (The People’s Business, Social Enterprise UK, 2014);
Social enterprises in the most deprived communities are more likely than social enterprises in the least deprived to focus on creating employment opportunities (32% vs 17%), addressing social exclusion (20% vs 12%) and addressing financial exclusion (15% vs 6%)(The People’s Business, Social Enterprise UK, 2014).  

HCD’s aim is to provide services that empower local people to reach their potential in job search, start-up new enterprises, learn basic English and the use of computer and support third sector organisation to become more economical sustainability.  This support is realized through programs such as:  “Pioneering social enterprise” and “English my way”.  Another important project of HCD is the management of Gillet square. This public space was renovated by the company and return to the community use in 2006. The HCD team describe the space in this way:  Off road yet near Dalston centre, the square is a quiet,   granite, open space flanked by jazz bars, cafes, food outlets and a host of other interesting businesses and services. Culturally, the square is the people who use it – people from an astonishing range of ages, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds & beliefs, all sharing the space with each other, in work and in play.


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