email: jo[at]cbc.coop facebook: Jo Bird
phone: 0797 007 5704 skype: jobird07
Jo Bird is standing as Labour/Co-op candidate for Eastham, Wirral in north west England. Her back story is in this podcast
Jo has been a successful and practical co-operator since 1993 when she co-founded a housing co-operative. She has been a Director of Co-operative Business Consultants since 2007, working freelance to help people take control through co-operative enterprise.
Jo organised pro-democracy responses to the crises at the Co-operative Bank and Group from 2013 onwards, including six Ways Forward conferences, and Save Our Co-op petition. Jo became a high profile media voice promoting co-operative principles, democracy and identity. Jo chaired conference plenary sessions with key note speaker, John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow Business Secretary. She is based on the Wirral, available for work in Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and remotely.
From 2014 to 2017, she lived in Derry~Londonderry and worked with co-ops and credit unions across the island of Ireland. She was chair of the development agency, Co-operative Alternatives NI (2014-16).
She is licensed to award the Community Shares Standard Mark, and has considerable experience in co-operative business advice, business and financial planning, crowd funding, board mentoring and governance, harnessing conflict in co-ops, membership policies, legal registrations and conversions, organising strategic events and study tours.
Jo was Business Development Manager for Co-operatives North West (2008-11), working across the co-operative sector to deliver high quality member services to over 350 co-operative enterprises in the region.
At the Co-operative Group (1999-2003), as Head of Co-operative Action (which became the Co-operative Enterprise Hub), Jo promoted co-operative solutions in every sector – from care co-ops to car clubs.
As a senior co-operative consultant, Jo is asked to promote, assess and deliver co-operative development through programmes such as Community Shares Ready, the Plunkett Foundation, and the Co-operative Enterprise Hub (2007-14).
HIGH CLIENT SURVIVAL RATE
Since 2010, Jo has provided more than one day of advice for 58 groups that started, or continued, trading as a co-operative business during the advice. After three years, 75% of these co-operatives are still trading as a co-operative. By comparison, only 45% of companies survive this long. When necessary, Jo advises clients to not start trading. She also helps trading co-ops to wind up (or merge) while minimising damage to people, relationships and finances.
COMMUNITY SHARES experience includes: Northern Ireland Community Energy (£150,000 from 86 members), Boundary Brewing Belfast (£100,000 raised in ten days), Hayfield Sustainable Transport (£50,000), Village Greens (£100,000 from 400 members), Greater Manchester Tree Station (£140,000 raised from 200 members), FC United (£2m from 2,000 members), and Shared Interest Society (£29m raised from 9,000 members).
RECENT CLIENTS IN IRELAND include: Derry’s pop up Arabic Cafe, Media co-op (Dublin), St Columb’s College, The Raglan (Ballymena), Belfast’s Boundary Brewing, Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE), Third Space Cafe (Dublin), Birr Community Growery (County Offaly), Cloughmills Community Action Team, Down to Earth NI, An Créggan (Sperrins), Templecrone aka The Cope (Donegal), Creggan Enterprises (Derry), Dublin Food Co-op.
CLIENTS IN ENGLAND include: Your B (the UK’s first Shari’a compliant credit union), Sharenergy, Unicorn Grocery workers co-op, Students for Co-operation, Salford Credit Union, Arts Hub 47, Bankley Artists Studios, Homebaked Anfield, Busy Bee Toy Shop, The Kitchen, One Planet Shop.
RECENT COMMISSIONERS include: University College Cork, Co-operative Alternatives NI, Cultivate.ie, The Plunkett Foundation, Building Change Trust, Derry & Strabane District Council, Sole Purpose Productions (L’Derry), the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, North West Housing Services, Co-operative Development Scotland, Co-operative & Mutual Solutions, Co-operatives UK, and Co-operatives North West.
REFUGEES AND THE MIDDLE EAST
In 2016, Jo helped mobilise a warm welcome for Syrian refugees to relative safety in Derry. She organised food welcome packs and a series of self-funded and publicly-funded Arabic language and culture courses, with over 300 people taking part in community and school settings.
Responding to requests from Syrian people, Jo managed the start up and development of the innovative Arabic Café. Through 18 pop up cafe events, this integration project was the catalyst for Syrian women and men to take part in training and employment, and the more established community to enjoy new friends as well as the best falafel for 100 miles.
Jo is a founder member of Jewish Voice for Just Peace – a group of Jewish people in Ireland who support the Palestinian struggle for human rights and justice. She campaigns for human rights and against anti-semitism and other forms of racism. She wrote letters to the press shared over 700 times. She is at ease building bridges through difficult issues. More about Jo’s Jewish journies may be found here www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/jewish-values/what-is-it-to-be-jew-ish
Jo co-founded Olive Co-operative, and as its Business Manager (2003-07), promoted responsible tourism and fair trade with the Middle East. She led 200 clients in nine study visits to Palestine / Israel. Study groups traveled to Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, Nablus, Jerusalem and elsewhere – meeting a wide range of groups and co-ops such as Sindyanna of Galilee, Bereaved Families Forum, community and political activists, refusniks, Mordechai Vannunu, Alternative Tourism Group, Windows for Peace etc.
Jo worked with Zaytoun CIC to bring fairly traded Palestinian olive oil and other products to the UK market – and to Shared Interest social finance facilities. She also crowd funded £30,000 from 400 donors to plant new olive trees with the Palestine Fair Trade Association.
- Secretary of Eastham Labour (since 2017)
- Chair of Foyle Labour (2015-17)
- Co-operative Business Consultants Limited (since 2007)
- Co-operative Alternatives Development Society Limited (2014-2016)
- Jewish Voice for Just Peace: Ireland (2014-2017)
- Co-operatives North West Limited (2000-1, 2006-8 and 2010-2013)
- Shared Interest Council (2009-2011)
- Co-operatives UK’s Worker Co-op Council (2007-8)
- Olive Co-operative Limited (2003-2007)
- Equinox Housing Co-operative Limited (1993-1996)
Director, Co-operative Business Consultants, 2007 – current Built and sustained CBC as a co-operative consortium dedicated to helping democratic enterprises to start up, grow and thrive. CBC is active in finding new ways forward and challenging reactionary forces within the co-operative movement.
Chair, Co-operative Alternatives, 2014 – 2016 Developed good governance and strategy within new and rapidly changing organisation. Specialist adviser to Community Shares Ready programme. Published research Growing Community Shares: Infrastructure Support in NI and UK www.coopalternatives.coop/blog/community-shares-supported/.
Business Development Manager, Co-operatives North West, 2008 – 2011 Part time role delivering high quality member services to over 350 co-operatives in the region. Plus marketing and Board secretariat. Similar role for Co-operatives Yorkshire & the Humber from 2008 – 2009.
Group leader, Woodcraft Folk, 2006 – 2011 Responsible for weekly and residential activities to ‘span the world with friendship’, with co-leaders, children and young people, including child protection.
Business Manager, Olive Co-operative, 2003 – 2007 Founder member and Director of co-op business. Managed 200 clients in small study groups to Israel/Palestine. Raised £30,000 from 400 donors to plant 7,500 new olive trees in Palestine. Import, wholesale and retail of 100+ fairly traded Palestinian products. Ongoing development of all systems for growing business.
Co-op Strategy Manager & Head of Co-operative Action, the Co-operative Group,
1999 – 2003 Built and delivered Co-operative Action partnerships. Managed £2m+ grant program plus £1m+ Community Dividend scheme. Pioneered Group-wide community investment strategy – benchmarking business in top six most generous UK businesses.
Project Co-ordinator, Bully Free Zone, 1996 – 1999 Line manager of five-strong staff team with 200+ volunteers. Forged partnerships with sixteen schools to reduce bullying. Secured £1/2m government contract to combat social exclusion and expand the organisation.
Founder Member and Treasurer, Equinox Housing Co-operative, 1993 – 1996 Collectively identified, bought, renovated and managed 8-bed property in Manchester.
Co-ordinator, Underground Power, 1990 – 1995 Co-ordinator of England-wide campaign for young people’s rights and lowering the voting age.
Academic Affairs Officer, Manchester University Student Union, 1992 – 1993 Elected sabbatical officer at large student union / social enterprise.
- Food Hygiene, Level 2, 2017
- Access NI, enhanced clearance for working with children and vulnerable adults, 2016
- Community Shares Standard Mark, Co-operatives UK, licensed practitioner, 2015
- Sfedi Gold Standard, Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited business advisor Level 5, 2011
- Sociology Degree, Manchester University, 1992
LANGUAGES Basic Arabic, Irish, Hebrew, French, Spanish and British Sign Language.