Workers’ co-op puts heart back into community

Love works SM Farm

Loveworks Co-operative, a highly commended social enterprise based in the oldest building on Belfast’s Duncairn Gardens, the Macrory Centre, is currently raising funding through a community loanstock offer.

It plans to use the inward investment to further grow its business and build a stronger community in the north of the city.

The worker-owned cooperative provides learning opportunities to excel in skills such as gardening, bike repair and baking while providing a useful service to the wider community in the area.

Its £10,000 ‘ask’ to raise the required capital to increase the capacity and offering of the bakery will be used to purchase new coffee equipment, an additional oven, mixers, bannetons, and other kitchen equipment.

The minimum individual loanstock is £100; the maximum £2,000. The loanstock offer will run until Saturday, March 7, and gives potential investors options regarding rate of interest and payback date.

The investment opportunity brings both social and financial return, supporting the development of a thriving community, transforming lives, building community wealth, employment and wellbeing in the area, which is situated on one of north Belfast’s peace lines.

Founder Richard Higginson said: “We are excited about the opportunity to launch our loanstock offer. Instead of going to a bank for a loan, we are asking people in the local community, and those who may support our values further afield, to lend us money instead.

“This type of community borrowing is common to worker co-ops so we hope that our supporters will take advantage of this unique opportunity.

“Loveworks is run by the people for the people with our shared goal to generate dignity and wellbeing for workers, who in turn gain skills and experience in gardening, bike repair, and baking.”

Drawn from the local area, the workforce includes those with past convictions, addiction problems, poor mental health and housing issues.

It brings the ability to use newly acquired skills to support their individual needs while providing a useful service to the wider community. Currently employing a core team of seven workers, the co-op also boasts 10 regular volunteers.

Tiziana O’Hara, from Cooperative Alternatives, said: “Loveworks are doing great things for the local community in north Belfast. We have supported Loveworks from the initial concept and are impressed at how they have developed their offering to the local community.

“We are delighted to support them towards their next goal as they raise the necessary capital for continued growth.”

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