In this section

Autumn 2013

Contents

Our co-operative difference
New products and services
Meet our Affinity Partner
Our credentials

You can also download a pdf version of this newsletter here

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Community Network: A new partnership that shares our values

From 1st July, The Phone Co-op has been running Community Network's telephone conferencing services. It is not the first time we've worked with the London-based charity, but this partnership opens up new opportunities for both organisations.  

Community Network

Mark Owen and Marilyn Anderson, from Community Network

Taking over the operation of Community Network's conference call infrastructure means we can now offer this service to new and existing customers. The service has been co-branded with The Co-operative Business Telecoms.

The partnership also benefits Community Network. Since it was set up in 1990, this organisation has divided its attention and efforts between two main areas of work: its charitable activity and providing teleconferencing services to the Third Sector as a way of funding its social mission. With the conference call infrastructure being transferred to The Phone Co-op, Community Network will be able to concentrate on its charitable efforts.

Vivian Woodell, CEO of The Phone Co-op, said:

"We are delighted to partner with an organisation that works to combat the devastating effect that loneliness and social isolation can have on people's lives."

 

What does this charity do? 

Community Network's charitable activity focuses on creating telephone communities to help people who are at risk of or experiencing loneliness and social isolation. What makes these services different from traditional befriending is that they use telephone conferencing to connect their participants together.

Community Network's telephone communities offer a lifeline to people who need emotional support, increasing their sense of belonging and positively impacting on their self-confidence, physical health and well-being.

If you want to find out more about this charity's work, visit www.communitynetworkprojects.org

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Our co-operative difference

Have your say - election time is approaching 


Two seats on The Phone Co-op's Board are coming up for election. Directors represent our members and are directly involved in strategic decision making - determining the organisation's mission, how our business is run and where our funds are invested. Amanda Beard, our Secretary and Membership Manager, provides all the details about the nomination process and how to stand for our Board. 

One of the most exciting aspects of being a co-operative member is the opportunity to get involved in your organisation and make a real difference.  But "how do I do this?" you may ask. Election - dates

There are lots of different ways to participate in a democratically owned and run organisation like The Phone Co-op. As a member, you get a share in the profits and an equal vote at our Annual General Meeting, but you can also: 

  • Stand for our Board.  The Board is made up of seven members who determine the strategy of the organisation. They contribute their experience and enthusiasm for the benefit of The Phone Co-op. They are the democratically elected representatives of members. 
  • Vote in the forthcoming election.  You may not have the time to commit as a board member but you can show your support and be involved by voting for one of our candidates.

In the next month all members will receive a share account statement, including interest applied, together with an invitation to stand for the Board.  This is your opportunity to participate and make a difference! 

What do the Board do?

Board members attend four face-to-face meetings a year and usually seven others by telephone conference. They follow the progress of the business and determine the strategy going forward, working closely with the management team.  The term of office is three years and we have two directors reaching the end of their terms this time.

For further information on being a director, you can contact Amanda Beard on 01608 647712 or by email amanda@thephone.coop

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Why become a director? 

We could give you lots of good reasons to nominate yourself as a board member in this year's election, but it is probably better if they come from people that are actually serving on it. Rob Denbeigh and Mick Taylor were both elected for three years last January. Both of them had been on the Board before and decided to repeat the experience. Here are their thoughts:

"One of the most rewarding experiences"

Rob-Denbeigh-Profile.pngRobert Denbeigh. Managing Director at IT Sonix, asoftware company that specialises in the development of communication services for the contact centre industry.

"To be involved with an organisation which enjoys such a rich history and operates so ethically is a joy.  It feels like every member of staff is working towards our continued success. Operating to co-operative values is a pleasure and brings clarity to decisions that might be more difficult in a regular business setting.

I'm proud to have helped The Phone Co-op compete and succeed against big corporations, proving it's possible to work ethically and stay competitive. 

The experience has been very positive for me.  Not only am I giving my input, I am continuously learning too. It's very much a win-win.

I'm looking forward to the years ahead.  Our plans are for strong and adventurous growth. We will succeed. A growing Phone Co-op benefits all members with lower call costs, bigger dividends and more muscle to invest in other co-operatives."

"Keeping the voice of members at the heart of the co-op"           

Mick-Taylor.pngMick Taylor, partner in Mutual Advantage, a consultancy that specialises in helping people to set up and run co-ops and social enterprises in the public sector. 

"For me co-operatives are the natural way to organise business - a way that enables us to mix effective business and good management with strong commitment to values and principles… Principles that ensure we look after customers, we look after staff and we look after the environment.

I'm passionate about using management expertise to meet our aims in a way that keeps our values intact, applies our ethical principles rigorously, retains democratic accountability at its core, and is also successful in business terms.

It is both an honour and responsibility to be elected to the board of The Phone Co-op, and one I take very seriously."

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Not a member yet? Now it can be done online and in under 5 minutes!

As a member, you will co-own The Phone Co-op, have the opportunity to attend our AGM and influence how our organisation is run. Because we are democratically run, all our members have an equal vote on key issues at meetings, including electing the Board and even stand for it. Members also receive other benefits such as interest on their investment, a dividend based on their call spend, and exclusive member offers, plus access to our online community, which we are just about to launch. Interesting, isn't it? 

Sign-up today  or feel free to call our Membership Team on 0845 458 9003. 

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New products and services

GeorgiePhone: the smartphone solution for people with visual impairment

People with little or no sight can now get a GeorgiePhone with The Co-operative Mobile's bundles. Packages start at £30 and include a handset with the Georgie software, 100 minutes, unlimited text and 1Gb data allowance.    

Mobile phones have become an essential communication tool for a large number of people. However, when it comes to people with visual impairment, finding the right handset can be hard work. The size and shape of the buttons and on the screen, the type of text and its level of contrast are just some of the aspects that define the suitability and usability of mobile phones. There are also specific smartphone apps and tools that read texts out loud or allow the user to dictate text messages. But what if there were a device which contained all those applications and many other features to make the life of blind and partially-sighted people easier?

GeorgiePhone is the first smartphone solution that enables people with little or no sight to live, communicate and travel independently. It puts technology at the service of those who need it most.

GeorgiePhone

GeorgiePhone is predominantly a communication tool but in addition to usual functions like the voice text and simple phone dialer, it helps users to perform other day-to-day tasks that many of us take for granted. Its colour recognition app is useful to find a specific t-shirt; the document scanner can read aloud the menu in a café; and the object recognition application helps users to differentiate a tin of tomatoes from a can of custard. GeorgiePhone also offers clear audible walking directions and enable effective use of public transport.

The Phone Co-op is now offering GeorgiePhone through The Co-operative Mobile's monthly bundles. Roger Wilson-Hinds, the person who created and designed GeorgiePhone and who is blind himself, says:

"The modern smartphone has the ability to change the lives of people with disabilities. There is no way we would allow our GeorgiePhone to be sold or supported by a company which did not share our values and ethics; so when we were looking for potential distribution partners, the Phone Co-op was the obvious first choice."

 

GeorgiePhone is available for £30 a month

Our standard package includes the GeorgiePhone software (worth £238), 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data. You can increase your minutes and your data allowance depending on your needs. 

To find out more or to order a GeorgiePhone call 0800 999 3358 or visit www.thephone.coop/georgie

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We're different - it's us that gives out gifts on our birthday!

To celebrate our 15th anniversary we've decided to reward the people who've helped us get there - our members.

As a thank you, from 1st September  we'll be doubling the number of minutes included in members' individual 100, 300, 600 and 900 minute mobile bundles for FREE!*

And, remember, if you are not a member, you can easily join online.

Become a member and switch your mobile to us before the end of 2013 to qualify for this offer. 

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Meet our Affinity Partner

CAT: Empowering people for a greener future

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is one of our largest and most committed partners. From its facilities in Wales, it inspires and enables people to live environmentally sustainable lives.

CAT is an environmental charity that has been at the forefront of technical and social developments surrounding renewable energy technology for over forty years. Its approach to environmental issues encompasses climate change, biodiversity, pollution and resource use. 

It has long been a centre of excellence for environmental education. It runs a range of courses with a strong focus on sustainability issues for people of all ages. Its postgraduate programmes and short courses for adults have become increasingly popular as people look to develop practical skills for a new future. With courses as diverse as solar panel installation, pizza oven building and willow weaving, all individual interests are catered for.

Centre for Alternative Technology

CAT's staff at the centre in Wales

Through its work, which includes workshops for school groups, children's residential visits, publications, a visitor centre and a free environmental information service, CAT aims to help empower people with environmental solutions for the transition to a greener, zero-carbon future, whilst maintaining a modern, comfortable standard of living.

CAT has been our partner for over 10 years.

"Our affinity partnership with The Phone Co-op means that our resources are extended and we can communicate our message to greater numbers of people," explains Freya Stanley-Price, from the Media and Marketing team at CAT. "In return we are able to show our support for an organisation with a business approach that closely mirrors our own."

If you are involved in, or know of, an organisation that needs to raise funds, why not suggest they become one of our Affinity Partners?

We want to work with organisations that share our values for mutual benefit. Our partners endorse our services to their supporters and we share the revenue with them. Call Pat Moral on 0845 458 9045 or email pat.moral@thephone.coop for more details. 

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Our credentials

The Phone Co-op has been accredited as a Living Wage Employer

Living Wage logoWe have become one of the first organisations in the country to receive this recognition, and one of very few in the UK's telecommunications sector. 

This accreditation is awarded by the Living Wage Foundation to those organisations which ensure that all their employees, including certain classes of contracted staff, are paid the Living Wage. We are proud to say that we were already paying almost all our staff well above that level before receiving this accreditation.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate based on the cost living in the UK. It is higher than the minimum wage and is voluntary. It is currently set at £8.55 per hour for Londonand £7.45 per hour for the rest of the country, in comparison with the UK's Minimum Wage (£6.19).

Offering a living wage to our employees fits in with our ethical policy. However, our commitment to treat our staff fairly goes further than that. Find out more here

 

Spread the word

Follow us on Twitter @phonecoop and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ThePhoneCoop and spread the word. 

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Want more news? Send us your feedback, ideas and suggestions to marketing@thephone.coop We'll make sure your voice is heard.

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Need help?

Call us on 01608 434 000 for assistance, or send us an e-mail and we'll call you.