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As a Wellbeing RSA ‘goal champion’, I believe that Co-operative and community-led housing (CCLH) is about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving local housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes and strong, prosperous communities.

Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

A year ago Mark Drakeford based his Welsh Assembly leadership manifesto on Equality, Solidarity and Prosperity. On prosperity created and shared by all. Wealth is created not by the actions of the wealthy few but through the efforts of the many - where we build a common wealth, the wealth to which everyone makes a contribution and which is shared out fairly for all.

One of the seven well-being goals, outlined in the Well-being of Future Generations Act is a Prosperous Wales.

An innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources efficiently and proportionately (including acting on climate change). A society which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities, allowing people to take advantage of the wealth generated through securing decent work.

Wales Co-operative Centre has been working since 1982 to strengthen and empower Welsh communities by supporting the growth of co-operatives and social enterprise, as well as by collaboratively delivering projects that provide skills and tackle exclusion. As part of that work, its Co-operative Housing Project ran between November 2012 and March 2019, offering support and advice to new and existing organisations looking to develop Community Led Housing schemes in Wales.

The successor to this project, the Centre’s new Communities Creating Homes project, began in April of this year and aims to “develop and stimulate demand for the co-operative and community-led housing approach throughout Wales”.

It is great being involved in the wider CCLH movement and managing the strategic direction in Wales. There have been ‘lessons learnt’ from difficult situations in housing co-ops, and managing the impact by ensuring cohesive relationships are maintained through co-operation. The team has grown and there is now more talk about CLH, leading to 3 more years of funding. I am looking forward to co-managing Communities Creating Homes where people will lead in the delivery of homes to meet their needs.

Jocelle, Casey, Allan, Claire and Paul will be our co-operative and community-led housing ‘on tap’ experts, sharing many years’ of combined experience in the sector between them. They will sit within the Centre’s Inclusive Communities Directorate. They are all enthusiastic about community-led housing and enjoy working with people across Wales, to find inventive solutions to local housing needs.

People will be key to delivering this strategic ‘bottom up’ project, and engagement across Wales is the first step. We have the processes and procedures to fulfil this vision, and change peoples’ lives for the better, helping to make a fairer and more co-operative Wales.

David Palmer FRSA lives just outside Abergavenny, and since 2012 he has been the Co-operative Housing Project Manager working across Wales to promote social, financial and digital inclusion through a range of projects.

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