Barefoot Co-op Development course

Hey folks! Last year I took part in a pilot of a new Barefoot Co-op Development course. I wanted to learn more about how co-ops are structured, how to help others start them, and how to support co-ops as they grow or face challenges. Some of this was self-motivated, to help me apply these things to my own co-op, but a larger part of it was so that I could offer more practical help within CoTech. As a result of the course I feel much more confident about these things, and I also have a much bigger awareness of what I don’t know.

As well as the practical learning, I also met some wonderful people, learnt a lot more about different kinds of co-op in different sectors, and had a genuinely enjoyable and enriching experience. I recommend it to anyone.

The pilot was successful and the 2nd run of the course is open for enrolments now. I’ve copied the information that Nathan (one of the instructors on the course) has sent me below. I’m also happy to answer any questions about my experience either here or via PM.

  • Are you involved in a co-operative or community business?
  • Could you apply your skills to help other organisations
  • Maybe you, or your organisation, are already delivering support to other co-operatives and community businesses. Would you like to do it better and even get paid?
  • Are you working for an organisation that supports co-operatives and community businesses?
  • Could this be the next step in your career?

In 2020, Co-op Culture trained 21 members of co-operative and community businesses to deliver specialist business development support. These “barefoot practitioners” are already delivering support to new and existing co-operatives and community businesses and one group of participants have already established a new co-operative development body – the People Support Co-op.

The Barefoot programme has been designed for people who have prior experience gained through managing a co-operative or community business (2 years +) and want to support other similar organisations to start and grow.

We equip you with knowledge and skills, which combined with your relevant experience, should give you the confidence to provide quality support to co-ops and community businesses.

We are also keen to hear from co-operative organisations who would like to sponsor places that we can offer for free or at a subsidy.

Full details and the application form can be found on our website at Barefoot Co-op Development - apply - Co-op Culture


Thank you Chris,

Very informative post (didn’t know about the Barefoot course) and good luck to all the graduates with you from the previous cohort on your development journey.

Was anyone from South London? Would really like to reach out to them and get them involved with Crystalisr because we will need project developers to help local co-op to get off the ground. This is part of community wealth building in Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton.

Crystalisr was one of the start-ups supported in the Co-operatives UK UnFound accelerator. Further details you can see in the playback of the live pitching event here.

Warm regards,


Maybe Crystalisr could sponsor someone to do the course?

Thanks Graham… We can do that as well (when we have some money), but we are a small team and we are looking for more local activists to get involved. Hence my question. I’m thinking some of the co-op developers must be local, I just need to find them!