For those of you who don’t know, Outlandish runs SPACE4 in Finsbury Park to invest back into our local community, democratic business, and social movements. Through SPACE4 we provide affordable workspace, training and networking events, and consultancy to other businesses looking to do the same.

Joyce Ogunade, Head of Affordable Workspace Programme, speaking at the SPACE4 launch

We have been lucky that our council, Islington, is committed to community wealth building and whole-heartedly supports the cooperative movement. Through SPACE4 we pioneered their Affordable Workspace Programme in 2019 and have been partnering with them ever since.

One of the main components of this partnership involves delivering Social Value in line with the National TOMs (Themes, Outcomes and Measures) framework. However we noticed early on that the Social Value TOMs are not really appropriate for measuring the value that coops and democratic businesses generate. They were conceived originally for the construction industry, and remain very much in a capitalist mindset. For example, we can input ‘wellbeing activities’ for staff (that’s stuff like a yoga session, an outing, or an opportunity to volunteer), but in our opinion, these things are less meaningful for staff than having complete control over their work and being free of bosses!

Image of report 'An Alternative is Possible: Measuring the Impact of Cooperatives'

We therefore worked with the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) to rethink Social Value, and generate ideas for additional tangible measures that coops and other democratic businesses could use in order to demonstrate the additional value that they generate for their members and wider communities.

The report was published in June 2024. You can read it here:

Here’s a sneak peak at the framework we developed through the report: