We are proud of the work that we’ve done through SPACE4 in 2021 to support our local community and tech cooperatives more broadly. Here is a short summary of what we’ve achieved:

Brief background

In 2019 we won a 10-year contract with Islington Council to manage a new workspace. This requires us to generate more than £1m worth of social value each year (measured using the National Social Value Measurement Framework) for Islington residents and businesses. This is largely in the form of improved employment opportunities and ensuring money is retained in the local economy. Our aim is to target and develop skills, increase employment opportunities for the local community, particularly minority groups, and advance an inclusive economy in Islington. We continue our mission to develop a strong tech-coop sector to make the world a better place through technology, communication and cooperativism. 

Events and workshops 

We run public events to raise awareness of issues around technology and cooperativism. These events focus on things like ethics in technology, and emerging trends or innovations. Our events help to raise awareness of SPACE4 and introduce our members to a wider community. In return for affordable workspace, we ask our members to run free entry-level skills workshops. These events are attended by people in the local community and further afield to help boost awareness of how to access careers in the tech sector, or to use tech for their organisation or business.

Over the last couple of years it’s been difficult to run in-person events, so instead we’ve moved them mostly online. We’ve hosted over 50 workshops and events this year, which have been attended by more than 500 individuals. Our last event focused on the lack of Technology in UK prisons and the effect it has on prisoners and prison leavers and how we can all help change the system for the better. 

Lift Off project 

We recognised a need in the local community for ultra low-cost web and marketing support. With help from the Kickstarter scheme, we hired Ella and Aydarus, two local unemployed young people and together we have launched Lift Off. They are paid above the living wage (£125 per day) and since September we have been supporting them to develop valuable skills to start their careers in the tech sector. So far we have developed websites and marketing assets for three local social-impact businesses, and we have a few more lined up for the new year. 

Cooperate Islington

We secured a substantial amount of funding from Islington Council to develop a new Cooperative Development Agency. This agency, which we’re naming Cooperate Islington, will be one of the first CDAs to form in a long while. We’ll be giving out £75k in funding for local cooperatives, providing them with training and mentoring, running a public programme of events and training, and working alongside local anchor institutions and buyers to develop sales opportunities for coops. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to continue working with Islington with focus on “community wealth building” to try to ensure that money spent in the borough is spent ethically and locally and that value flows back to the local residents and independent businesses. 

SPACE4 coworking 

2021 has been our busiest year yet. We’ve seen a massive increase in numbers of users and we’ve made a healthy profit. The space is being used for events and workshops as well as bringing together the co-op sector and providing help and support for start-ups.