Save money on your energy bills this winter with BHESCo

Mutual Aid in Sussex are bringing Brighton & Hove Energy Service Co-op (BHESCo) to Coachwerks on Sunday 16th October, between 2-4PM, to show you how to save £100s of pounds on your fuel bills this winter.

In just 10 minutes BHESCo can show you

* How to find the cheapest energy tariffs & switch supplier (typical savings over £300 a year)
* How to stop wasting heat and save energy in your home
* How to tackle draughts and damp

Bring your bill & see how much you can save!

For more info on BHESCo email info@bhesco.co.uk or go to www.bhesco.co.uk

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DIY Bike Hub – Fix your bike for free every Saturday at Coachwerks

Details below – every Saturday between 12:00 – 16:00 – at Coachwerks. At the same time Coachwerks Wholefoods Co-op is open so you can get your shopping while you fix your bike. Mutual Aid in Sussex is helping organise these weekly bike fixing sessions.

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How we can use community shares to fund our community and co-operative ideas – talk by Dave Boyle (Community Shares Company)

The recording of this talk can now be found below:

The next Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS) meeting, on Wednesday 21st September, will include a talk with Dave Boyle (Director, Community Shares Company) about how we can use Community shares to fund our community and co-operative ideas, using examples from Brighton & Hove and around the country.

Dave Boyle

Dave Boyle

Invented by the co-operative movement in the 19th century, withdrawable share capital has come out of the sidelines and suitably refreshed and rebranded as Community Shares, and is the means by which community enterprises are funding the acquisition of pubs, the development of renewable energy, building sports stadia, funding accountable media and much more.

Dave Boyle has worked on over 20 shares issues including the Bevy Co-operative Pub and Exeter Street Hall in Brighton, and will explain what Community Shares are, why they work well for co-ops and community enterprises. Not only are they the right kind of money, but they show a way in which sustainable and solidarity local economies could be built.

Come and join us: Wednesday 21st September at Coachwerks, 19A Hollingdean Terrace, Brighton. If you can, please bring vegan food to share. The meeting will start at 7pm, with the talk from 8pm.

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Setting up the Ecological Land Co-operative – challenges and lessons for the future

**Please note: This talk was moved from 22 June to the 20th July. **

The next Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS) meeting, on Wednesday 20 July, will include a talk with Zoe Wangler, founding member and director of the Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC).

Zoe Wangler 2014.thumbnailELC was set up in 2009 to address the lack of affordable sites for ecological land based livelihoods in England. The co-op purchases land, obtains planning permission, and installs the infrastructure to create clusters of three or more affordable residential smallholdings.

Zoe’s presentation will set out what the co-op does, its roots, and why the members chose to be a multi-stakeholder co-op. She’ll share some of their failures and successes, their plans for the future and the challenges they face.

Come and join us: Wednesday 20 July at Coachwerks, 19A Hollingdean Terrace, Brighton. If you can, please bring vegan food to share. The meeting will start at 7pm, with the talk from 8pm. 

The Ecological Land Co-operative from Ecological Land Co-operative on Vimeo.

Elc MAIS Talk 20-07

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Reflecting on Co-operative Alternatives event (11th June 2016)

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Chris Funnell (Co-operative Assistance Network) giving introduction to co-operatives and the co-operative movement (see his full powerpoint below). Photo by Adi loosli.

On 11th June 2016 Mutual Aid in Sussex (in collaboration with Free University of Brighton) hosted a day long event called Co-operative Alternatives, with eight separate workshops (plus two plenary sessions) and a number of stalls promoting local and national co-operative projects. The full schedule of the event can be found here. The powerpoints of those who used them on the day can be found below:

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Helen Russell (Co-operative Housing in Brighton & Hove) giving workshop on How to set up a housing co-op (see her full powerpoint above). Photo by Adi loosli.

In total, we had 96 people attend the event (plus about a dozen or so organisers and people helping out on the day).

Feedback from people attending was hugely positive, such as:

Once again, a big thank you for organising the co-operative alternatives event. I learnt an awful lot about the roots of the co-operative ethos & feel very inspired in regards to developing our values after Mike’s presentation plus some good pointers for conflict. I feel very proud to be a part of the co-operative movement. I am definitely up for being involved with MAIS on more events like this and hope to see you all again at meetings soon. – Polly from Kindlings Outdoor Play And Education Workers’ Co-operative

Thanks again for putting on the event – as I said on the day I’ve been really wanting to be a part of something and to connect with people already doing brilliant co-operative things down here, so it was much appreciated! – Sarah Owen

We feel we have both helped many people in their own projects, and also strengthened the mutual aid network in the area.

As a result of the day we have already had people interested in starting up new co-operatives, offering to host smaller events and to get more involved in helping run MAIS, and we’ve had numerous people telling us that the event was directly beneficial to them and their co-op.

The day was a huge success promoting co-ops and strengthening the co-operative network in Sussex.

We were able to raise around half of the costs from donations on the day for the event and also had the support of Lush and the Worker Co-op Solidarity Fund

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One of several stalls at the event. This one was for the Sail Boat project – a workers’ co-operative. Photo by Adi loosli.

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Why Co-operative Alternatives?

It is now less than one week to go until the event ‘Co-operative Alternatives for work, housing, energy, food and more.’

Matt Wilson of Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS) and Bartleby’s brewery has appeared on Latest TV and Radio Free Brighton to talk about the event, why it’s being organised it and the benefits of co-operative ways of living and working:

  • Listen to Matt and Davy Jones on Radio Free Brighton’s politics show here or below.


 

  • Watch Matt with Mike Mendoza on Latest TV here or below.

Co-operative Alternatives is a free event on Saturday 11 June. It starts at 10.30am at the Synergy Centre, Brighton. There is a full schedule of the day, and more details, are available here.

There a few places left for the event – if you would like to come, please register here at Eventbrite.

Any questions? Get in touch at mais[at]riseup[dot]net

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MAIS and Free University Brighton statement on the Synergy Centre and the Co-operative Alternatives event

Several weeks after we organised – with Free University Brighton – the event Cooperative Alternatives on 11th June, concerns were raised with us that some people ‘volunteering’ for or through the Synergy Centre are welfare claimants working under threat of sanction as part of the ‘workfare’ programme, especially through Brightoning Lives.

The Synergy Centre is a valuable venue for many community and activist groups in Brighton and many volunteers who work there find it worthwhile. However, Mutual Aid in Sussex and Free University Brighton do not agree with any kind of coerced volunteering. We also think people should receive a fair wage for any work outside of genuine volunteering.

Since the Brighton Benefits Campaign (BBC) initiated the boycott against the Synergy Centre, Brightoning Lives have agreed a plan with the Trades Council, the local Green Party, the People’s Assembly Brighton and the Synergy Centre. More details here on the Brightoning Lives Facebook page.

However this agreement does not address many of the issues raised by the Brighton Benefits Campaign. A response has been published by them, including a call for the Synergy Centre to sign up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement, which has been signed by 644 other organisations.

We engaged with the Synergy Centre as well as trying to contact and meet Brighton Benefits Campaign.

We also spent many hours contacting and visiting other venues around the city, however we were unable to find anywhere else available or appropriate given the short notice, the size of the event and that two workshops will be happen simultaneously throughout the event.

We had a choice of whether to cancel the event or continue with it, but decided to go ahead after collectively spending hundreds of hours organising it and with the expenses already incurred. Ultimately there is a small group of people organising this event, and everyone is volunteering their time to make this happen.

This was a very difficult decision to make. We want to live in a more co-operative and equal world – because of this we decided to go ahead rather than cancel, which is the only other option at this stage.

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