I’ve been providing support and advice to emerging and existing co-operative businesses, community owned enterprises and mutual organisations since 2000, working across the UK on everything from credit unions and employee buyouts, to the development of community owned farms and cinemas. I’m a licensed community shares practitioner and a Trustee of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, a ground-breaking partnership between local communities and a motorway services business. Love long walks and travelling the country in my baby caravan.
Did a Maths degree at the University of Southampton and started career in community development: spending 8 years in a mining village in the North East of England, providing welfare rights advice, debt counselling, and building community infrastructure.
After moving to Cheltenham set up and developed a credit union for the town.
Over twenty years working in and supporting co-operative and community businesses, and mutual organisations, providing training and advice on ownership, engagement, governance, business planning, finance and access to investment.
Detailed knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of communities and the effect this has on how they operate and develop.
Jo’s experience of the importance of community ownership and engagement, and the skills required to put the theory into practice, is highly valued by clients and the wider co-operative movement.
Projects and Boards
Substantial experience of project and contract management, including management of both the financial and delivery aspects.:
Ranging from small projects with a few partners to a 4-year (2001 – 2005) European EQUAL programme with over 20 partners, and the USE-IT! project, a 3-year EU funded programme (2017 – 2019) in West Birmingham and Smethwick linking large capital developments with local skills, talents and enterprises.
Involved in the development of co-operative and social enterprise policy throughout the UK at a national and regional level since 2001.
Trustee – Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (2009 – present)
Ground-breaking partnership between local communities and a motorway services business generating long-term community benefit and sustainable income for local people and partners.
Chair – Co-operative & Community Finance (2011 – 2019)
Board Member – Co-operatives UK (2007 – 2013)
Co-operative Development Worker
I’d describe myself as a co-op geek! I’ve been part of working in and founding many place-based co-operatives and community businesses in Oxford since 2015 and have firsthand experience of business and organisational development. My strengths and interest lies in supporting and mentoring new start-ups. I currently live in a housing co-op and am happiest when hiking in the hills.
Delivered an Oxford City Council funded project between July 2022-23 to provide co-operative development support, training and a peer-mentoring, especially focused on economically marginalised areas.
Provided development advice to start-up and growing organisations through 3 years supporting CAG Oxfordshire, a county-wide network of 70 community groups and social enterprises focused on environmental action.
Founded a co-operative child-care and outdoor education project in 2018 called The Children’s Allotment, which took on the lease and transformed a formerly dilapidated allotment site.
Co-founded Makespace Oxford in 2017, a social enterprise bringing empty properties into meanwhile community use and served as their Interim Strategic Director in 2021.
Areas of interest
Qualifications & training
TV Producer turned social entrepreneur, I co-founded two community organisations in my local area, responsible for running a food-buying group, and organising handmade fairs and food festivals. Keen on pursuing ideas with the potential to solve community problems and create positive change, I work with my local community hub which provides vital activities and services to both old and new residents, offering a warm welcome and place of sanctuary.
Always thinking about food or walking the dog!
Travelled a bit, then worked as an Independent TV Producer in Birmingham until giving it all up to raise two kids.
After child-minding for a number of years, co-founded Crafty Muthas, a craft group with local meet-ups and popular biannual handmade fairs. Then co-founded Bearwood Pantry, a hyper local food buying group, sourcing and supplying wholesome, ethical food direct from local producers and distributing it from a weekly pick-up. Also organised food related workshops and annual Bearwood Food Festival.
Currently freelances in Community Engagement and Social Media Management, helping start-ups, small businesses, charities and community organisations with their online presence.