PCDN has also been involved in setting up several worker cooperatives in Preston.
One is the Preston Digital Foundation (The PDF), a not-for-profit worker-owned cooperative that specialises in digital services across Preston and Lancashire.
A further coop is North West Black Cabs (NWBC). They are a group of taxi drivers in Preston who are ranked at Preston Railway station and in the City Centre: Church Road. In total, there are 180 black Hackney cabs with some 240 drivers.
All of the drivers are micro enterprises and have experience of what it is to be a sole trader. This includes running a business, promotion and marketing, accounts, dealing with the authorities. They also have raised finance individually to purchase their cabs. Three drivers have already gone electric, and NWBC see the opportunity to scale up electric vehicles and want to explore more EV charging points in Preston.
NWBC have seen how the ‘uberisation’ of taxi driving is leading to poorer wages and to drivers having less control over their working lives.
They want to work collectively as taxi drivers’ cooperative to protect their wages and develop a better working life. This has already been done by other groups of drivers in Cardiff, London and Southend. The logic was clear: the move in the market is unquestionably towards ease of ordering taxis through a smartphone app.
A threat to black cabs in Preston is Uber which uses a highly sophisticated ‘app’ and which has gained ground not only with young people in particular but people of all ages. NWBC aims to safeguard Preston taxi drivers’ incomes and livelihoods, retain money locally and provide a strong buffer against a multi-national company.
PCDN has been involved with setting up Deeds Not Words. This new coop operates from Edith Rigby House, Preston. Edith Rigby House is a PIPE (Psychologically Informed Planned Environment) approved premises for women coming out of prison. PIPEs are designed as ‘Enabling Environments’ to reduce reoffending by improving the mental health and well-being of people whose offending is related to intractable personality disorder (PD) or other complex mental illness or intellectual disability.
Edith Rigby staff and residents have undertaken extensive formal and informal consultations with residents to ascertain what their aspirations are post release. This included the generation of business ideas which might be undertaken while women are resident at Edith Rigby House. Subsequently, staff and residents have decided to produce and sell merchandise which has been co-designed by the women residents and staff and others. These products reflect the fact that Edith Rigby (1872-1950) who is remembered chiefly for her activities as a suffragette, worked constantly to improve the lives of women and girls. The merchandise includes sweat and T shirts (logoed and with customisable phrases), calendars, a book (produced by a resident) and mugs.
PCDN is proud to announce that Deeds not Words Cooperative was launched in July 2021. Congratulations to all the staff and residents for their hard work and to Cooperative and Mutual Solutions Ltd. for acting as advisors to the team.