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On becoming a co‐operative: the journey

Mervyn Eastman (Society Secretary Change AGEnts UK Network Co‐operative Ltd, Bradford, UK)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 1 February 2012



This paper aims to examine the role that the co‐operative sector can play in responding to the needs and aspirations of older people. In addition, through recounting the Change AGEnts co‐operative journey, it seeks to demonstrate that co‐operative principles have the potential to reconfigure services and change the existing negative narrative on which much public sector commissioning and provision is based.


Change AGEnts is the legacy organisation that came out of the Better Government for Older People's Programme (BGOP), 1998‐2009. The journey from a government sponsored initiative (Cabinet Office) to an independent co‐operative illustrates the opportunities and challenges inherent in taking forward the coalition's present policy intentions of promoting co‐ownership of services, localism and building co‐operative communities.


Co‐operative approaches empower both professional and older people, through common ownership and mutuality. The experience of forming a co‐operative and becoming part of the co‐operative movement, has the potential to completely change the relationship between older people and the state.


The paper illustrates that deliberation and dialogue has a powerful part to play within the co‐operative movement, through increasing the control of older people in policy and practice outcomes.



Eastman, M. (2012), "On becoming a co‐operative: the journey", Working with Older People, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 78-87.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited