About the co-op

The PDF or the Preston Digital Foundation is a not-for-profit worker-owned co-operative that specialises in digital services across Preston and Lancashire.

The PDF co-op aims to provide employment for graduate students, who aren’t seeking conventional employment for personal reasons, or can’t get the job that they want.

All members of the co-op are working on projects related to web design & development, virtual reality, augmented reality and other digital products.

They are open to match the demand with the supply by adding new members to the team who have the skillset and talent required by the potential new project.

“One of the other things we are integrating within our co-op is a professional development and mentoring programme to support our members to grow their skills, opportunities and market value”, said Mark Porter, the founder and Business Director from thePDF.

Being a co-operative they not only pay themselves generously, but also as a not-for-profit organisation donate a percentage of their turnover to local social causes.

Who is involved

Graduate-level digital specialists from UCLan (University of Central Lancashire).

Why are they doing it

“I am very interested in developing co-ops as a way of supporting local businesses and an alternative form of employment”, said Mark Porter.

The main reasons the founders of the PDF wanted to set up a digital co-operative was to retain local talent and to provide financial and tangible support to the local community in line with the Preston Model values.

The first physical gift that the PDF co-op has donated was a rainbow bench to the Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire, as a symbolic ‘thank you’ gift to all working in the NHS.

“My background is in teaching and we used to do a lot of projects at the university, and after the students would leave, the clients would come back asking for more. So we had a really good talent pool that was willing to stay local, but maybe didn’t have the job opportunities.

“We were asked to do different projects and wanted to have more autonomy with some of the work, and a continuation of service for people who had their projects done by the university, so that’s how we came to being”, Mark added.

“I decided to join the co-op because it gives me the freedom to expand my mind, to work on interesting projects aside from what I would normally do at work”, said Andrew Palfrey, Development Director from the PDF.

How has PCDN helped

PCDN has provided the PDF with the technical support of setting up the worker-owned co-op through the Open Society Foundation funding.

“We received governance workshops to learn how to make good decisions in a non-hierarchical way through consensus and opinion making, while still maintaining good relationships.

“Help with the business model, specialist contracts and support on how to actually run the co-op has been really important to us”, Mark added.

Where to find the PDF