Co-operative Assistance Network Limited


For more information about any of the news items below, or for any general enquiry, please contact Austen Cordasco, Social Media Co-ordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07795 430599.

CAN launches Mediation Service

Mediation is a process by which a neutral person assists individuals and/or groups and/or organisations who are in dispute to find a mutually agreed, positive outcome.

Co-operatives and Social Enterprises are full of people who are passionate about social mission, good governance and ethical behaviour. Their disagreements tend to be different in nature and level of intensity to those in other environments where money or status are often the predominant issues. We understand that. We have specialists with decades of experience of governance troubleshooting and practical skills development in dozens of co-ops and social enterprises. We have actually been providing specialist mediation services to clients in the co-operative sector for some time and are now adding this to the range of services on offer on our website.

The service we provide has been continuously improved over many iterations to:

  • immediately reduce risk
  • focus on the avoidance and minimisation of harm
  • development of governance and policies to prevent recurrence.

There is much more information about the CAN Mediation Service here.

Internal disputes can bring down the most well-meaning organisations. We want yours to survive and thrive, so if you think we could help, contact us.

Our Mediation Product Area Team Leader is Chris Funnell: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Community Business Fund is open for applications

Power2Change has announced the opening of the second window for applications to its £10m Community Business Fund. This fund will award grants of between £50,000 – £300,000 to incorporated community businesses in England.

Successful applicants must meet a number of criteria including these four criteria for a community business: to be locally rooted, accountable to the local community, trading for the benefit of the local community and to have broad community impact. If you are involved with such a community business you are strongly advised to investigate further.

We can help in two ways:

1. Help design a project and write an application

2. Provide services to a project to be included in an application.

If this is of interest, please contact Austen Cordasco, our National Marketing Manager: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Be a Secret Shopper!

CAN has been operating a website using content management technology for a little over two years and we would now like to do some research into people's experiences of using it by running a secret shopper programme. Would you like to be a secret shopper?

In particular, we are looking for people who are or can realistically pretend to be past, current or potential customers of any of the following types:

  • Co-operatives or Social Enterprises purchasing services for themselves
  • Organisations purchasing services for delivery to clients or beneficiaries other than themselves
  • Credit Unions.

If you are such a person and you have a few minutes to spare, we would be immensely grateful if you were to:

  • Consider what product or service you may be interested to purchase or find out more about
  • Browse our website to find it or find out about it
  • Make an enquiry as if you are considering placing an order
  • Report back to us about your experience.

We would like to know:

  • What type of customer you are or were pretending to be
  • What product or service you were enquiring about
  • How easy or difficult it was to find the information you were looking for on the website
  • The quality of that information
  • How satisfied you were with the results of your enquiry
  • Your overall impression of the whole experience.

As a reward, we are prepared to answer for free any question that you add to your report that we would normally charge a consultancy fee to answer.

Please email your report to Austen Cordasco: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you so much!

CAN is appointed Consultant Organisation to Social Business Wales support programme

We are very proud to have gained this appointment and to be part of this 3-year, £11m programme.

Social Business Wales is funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund. It provides FREE specialist business support to social business looking to grow. It is delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre as part of the Business Wales service.

Social Business Wales brings in experts who can help in specific cases, matching clients' needs to the expertise and capacity of consultants, and that's where CAN comes in. We look forward to assisting the development of co-operatives and social businesses of all shapes and sizes in Wales.

See here for more information and to find out if you may be eligible to apply.

It is possible for an applicant to nominate an approved consultant such as CAN to deliver to them but that outcome is not guaranteed. If you would like to nominate CAN, firstly, thank you, and secondly, please contact us before you apply.

Contact Austen Cordasco, our National Marketing Team Leader: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Get up to 7 days one-to-one business support

We are pleased to announce that we will be delivering one-to-one advice to new and existing co-ops through The Hive – a business support programme by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank.

The Hive’s one-to-one support programme is now open for applications. Please note that the deadline for the first wave is 13 June, and that we expect demand to be high. As such, we encourage applicants to submit the strongest application possible. In particular:

  • Read the application form properly
  • Select the advice you want (rather than ticking every box)
  • Upload a business plan/feasibility study/step by step tool, as appropriate.

If you're looking to set up or grow a co-op, apply for business advice here.

If you would like CAN to be the provider of this support to you, please choose Co-operative Assistance Network Limited when you apply.

There will be a small charge of £100 (£75 for CUK members).

You can see a short, helpful video here.

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CAN approved to join Co-operatives UK's Preferred Provider list

CAN is pleased to announce that we are now Preferred Providers to Co-operatives UK for The Hive Business Support Programme that launched on Monday 29 February.

CAN is authorised to provide the following one-to-one advice:

  • Becoming a co-op
  • Sustainable/growing co-ops
  • Strategic planning
  • Community shares;

and the following cluster support:

  • The Co-op option
  • Start-ups
  • Community shares
  • Membership development
  • Generic co-operative development.

Please see The Hive website for details of how to apply.

CAN publishes its Policy Manual

Following a recent comprehensive policy review, CAN is pleased to publish its policy set.

We have decided to publish our policies for a number of reasons, including:

  • It accords with our mission to be a good example of a worker co-operative
  • We strive to be an Open Source co-operative
  • These policies and the template that we use may be a useful resource for other co-operatives, including startups and existing co-ops.

Please note, though, they are not designed to be templates or models, they are examples of actual working policies. We do not advocate that you simply copy these policies, either individually or collectively, rather use them as discussion documents for your own policy development. Your co-op is not the same as our co-op.

You can find and download them here.

We welcome feedback, enquiries and suggestions for improvement. Please contact our Society Secretary, Brian Titley: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We can provide consultancy on most areas that these policies cover and would be delighted to work with you on the development of any policy area. If this is of interest, please contact the team leader of the department responsible for the policy in question. The responsible department is identified at the end of each policy document. See our Contacts Page to find the departmental Team Leader. Our prices, terms and conditions are here.


CAN publishes Raising Finance for your Enterprise booklet

Drawing on 26 years experience of helping co-operatives and social enterprises of all shapes and sizes with their financial management and with sourcing investment, Co-operative Assistance Network Limited (CAN) has published a detailed guide to this important topic.

Aimed at new and existing co-operatives and social enterprises in the UK, the 28 page booklet covers:

  • How to calculate how much investment you need to raise
  • Sources of finance
  • Developing a balanced investment strategy.

Read more ...

Free Social Enterprise Support

Are you involved with a voluntary, community or social enterprise organisation in England that is looking to improve its sustainability, capacity and scale in order to deliver greater social impact? If so, we may be able to help you.

Read more ...

CAN is a founder member of CUSO-UK – the national support organisation for Credit Unions

CUSO-UK was launched recently at a conference of its founder members, including CAN.

This is the first organisation of its kind in the UK, being open to Credit Unions, businesses that supply or want to supply them, Credit Union Development Bodies (such as CAN) and supporters of Credit Union development such as trades unions, local authorities and housing associations.

Read more ...

Co-operative Assistance Network Limited

is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014

 No. 30714R 

Registered address: The Coach House, 2 Upper York Street, Bristol BS2 8QN 
VAT Reg. No. UK 550 0276 78
DUNS 218127940

UKPRN 10028405
MLR Reg. No. 12704615
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