Co-operative Assistance Network Limited


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

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CAN launches Website Start up Package

Just about every organisation needs a website these days and our start up clients are no exception to this rule. To this end, we have recruited a new Associate, Guy Phillips, a website specialist who we have worked with for many years on our own website. Between us we have devised a package of services to help you get a new website up and running with the minimum of fuss. For this service we will charge our normal consultancy rates as per our prices and terms of trade with some additional fees as detailed below. There are no other charges or hidden extra costs.

Our website start up package consists of the following elements:

  • A new website with up to ten pages that you can update yourself
  • Website customised with your choice of colours, style and branding
  • Training, either in person or remotely, for your site's use
  • Written content designed to attract and engage your customers
  • Hosting on a platform provided by our trusted partner (hosting fees and in some cases maintenance fees will be payable to our trusted partner for this service)
  • Timely software and security upgrades (all minor upgrades free, occasional major software upgrades may be additionally chargeable).

Contact us if this service is of interest to you or if you would like to know more. Our ICT Product Area Team Leader is Austen Cordasco This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Special Offer: First Consultation Free

We have been running a First Consultation Free promotional offer for some time now and are pleased to announce that we have decided to make it permanent and to write it into our Terms of Trade.

So here's the deal. First Consultation Free applies to new customers with whom we have entered into a contract but who have not purchased from us yet. It imposes no obligation to purchase. It applies to our consultancy services only and not to our training products or business services. This offer applies only to customers based in East of England, London, South East and South West England regions. Under these conditions, we will not charge for time, travel, expenses or anything else for your first free consultation.

What the first consultation consists of depends upon the nature of the work under consideration and the needs of the customer so it will be negotiated and agreed in advance. It would normally be a face-to-face meeting of about 2 hours and in most cases we would use a diagnostic tool such as a Development Needs Analysis (DNA). By far our most popular diagnostic tool, we have DNA variants for start ups, existing enterprises and buy-outs.

If we are called in to help with governance issues, we may use a Governance Audit tool, of which we have several variants.

Whichever diagnostic tool we use, we are confident that the output will be useful to you, being objective, comprehensive and coherent. It can be used to set an agenda and action plans for development or, at the very least, food for thought. It can also be used as a benchmark against which progress may be measured.

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Welcome Hilary

We have recently taken on a new client-facing Associate, namely Hilary Sudbury.  Based in Bristol, Hilary has twenty years of experience in Co-operative Development and is a fully qualified Community Shares Practitioner.  Hilary's talents strengthen our offer to our customers and we welcome her into our team.

CAN launches Business Lending Readiness Training for Credit Unions

Credit Unions have been legally allowed to accept corporate members and provide loans to them since 2012. This has opened up the possibility of community-based Credit Unions (as community businesses, co-operatives and social enterprises themselves) becoming key lenders to local community businesses, co-operatives and social enterprises. They are able to make smaller loans of a few thousand pounds for working capital and purchases of relatively small items like vehicles.

Many Credit Unions can improve their own business performance if more of their cash was invested in secure, well performing loans rather than on deposit with clearing banks (and who knows what use they put it to?). They can certainly improve their Social Impact performance if they make critical differences to the capacity of locally-based social enterprises to deliver much-needed services to their local communities and increase local employment in doing so.

It is easier said than done, however. Many Credit Unions have neither the policies and systems nor expertise in place to administer this new business nor the time and resources to acquire them for what is – after all – not their core business. Credit Unions are also justifiably risk-averse and need to know that risk of losses can be minimised, and ideally avoided completely.

CAN has now developed a scheme for accomplishing all the above (including risk-avoidance) and a training programme to deliver it affordably. Our Business Lending Readiness Training for Credit Unions programme has just been piloted with its first client Credit Union and is now shaken down and ready for delivery for any Credit Union.

Incidentally, this first Credit Union sold the concept to its Local Authority who are only too aware of the problems of small social enterprises accessing the working capital required to offer services to their own procurement teams and funded both the training and the staff time for the in-house work!

If you would like to know more, open the conversation with John Merritt, our Credit Union Sector Lead at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


GDPR and Data Protection

CAN takes the privacy of your personal data seriously and has always had a strong data protection policy. We welcome GDPR and strive to be more than compliant with the new regulations. Steps we have taken include:

  • Review of and revisions to our Data Protection policy – a work in progress
  • Designated Chris Funnell as Data Controller. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any concern, enquiry or complaint about our protection of your or your clients' data.
  • Published a Data Protection Privacy Notice that can easily be shared with customers and clients
  • Tightened internet and ICT security in a variety of ways, including:
    • Encrypting new devices
    • Enforcing data destruction regimes
    • Making newsletter signups and list management fully GDPR enabled and compliant.

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.

Co-operative Assistance Network Limited

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

 No. 30714R 

Registered address: 1-3 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8AA
VAT Reg. No. GB550027678
DUNS 218127940

UKPRN 10028405
MLR Reg. No. 12704615
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