In this section

Autumn 2014

Our co-operative difference
New products and services
Meet out Affinity Partner
Happy days!
 icon_pdf.gif You can also download a pdf version of this newsletter here

Fairphone: challenging the mobile industry to be more transparent

In September this year, we became the UK's only mobile provider to stock Fairphone smartphones and started offering this ethical handset with our pay-monthly services. We're delighted with the great response we've received from you, our members and customers.


Fairphone raises awareness of important issues about the supply chain for everyday products.

Being able to include Fairphone on the list of handsets you can purchase from The Co-operative Mobile is helping us to build on our reputation as the leading ethical telecoms provider in the UK. "Our partnership with Fairphone brings together two of Europe's most radical social enterprises to challenge the mobile industry to be fairer and more transparent," points out our CEO, Vivian Woodell.

From here, we'd like to welcome all our Fairphone customers, like Alissa Pemberton, who joined us as soon as she knew we were offering this handset. "I want every choice I make about what I purchase to have a positive, not negative, impact. I think it really opens people's eyes that a phone could have such ethical principles and still be brilliant to use. Kind of makes you wonder why every phone isn't like Fairphone," she says.

Laurie Michaelis, who won his Fairphone after winning it through our Co-operatives Fortnight competition, explains: "I've resisted having a mobile partly because of the cost, partly for environmental reasons - I don't want to be involved in the proliferation of short-lived electronic gadgets and of mobile phone masts, and I'm worried by the rapid depletion of rare minerals." However, he adds, "I did like the sound of Fairphone."

Fairphone is just an example of the work we are doing to contribute towards a responsible mobile industry. As part of our campaign to reduce manufacturer demand for metals, such as tantalum and tin, from conflict zones, we are currently working on a mobile phone recycling service. We'll be able to give you more details about it very soon. 

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Get yours today; we're running out!

If you need a new handset and you want it to be socially and environmentally smarter, then this is the time to get a Fairphone.

Fairphone is available for no upfront cost with our £22, £25 and £27 Co-operative Mobile monthly contracts, which include minutes, text and data. This makes the phone more affordable. Alternatively, you can go for our 30-day-minimum tariff (£2 per month) and pay for the handset up front. It's up to you!

Choose the option that best suits your needs and start using it today. But hurry... they are selling fast! Find out more at

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"The Phone Co-op feels like a genuine co-op"

It's been a year now since our colleague Craig Lumsden was appointed Head of Operations. In his Craig_Lumsdencurrent role, he ensures the business decisions we make are delivered in accordance with our strategic objectives and values.

Craig joined us on secondment from The Co-operative Bank in November 2012. He started as our Marketing Manager, but much has changed since then. In this interview, we ask him about his role and what he'd like to achieve for The Phone Co-op.

What has this year as Head of Operations been like?
Busy, challenging, tiring, fun and rewarding.

What was the first operations objective that you set for yourself?
To inject some more organisation and structure - The Phone Co-op has grown at a frenetic pace but as it becomes a quite significant business it is time to plan more and do things in a measured way.

When did you first get into co-ops?
I have worked for mutual and co-operative organisations for 25 years as a deliberate choice. In 2012, after 4 years of the best learning I have ever experienced, I graduated with a Masters in Co-operative Management. It was this course that really made me understand the advantages of co-operation on an intellectual rather than emotional level.

What are the main challenges you had to face coming from another co-operative?
I am used to working in large organisations where resource isn't such a scarce commodity whereas here, when you turn for help it's only the man in the mirror that can do something. The corollary to that is that I seem to accomplish more and The Phone Co-op acts more decisively. But the main difference is that The Phone Co-op feels much more like a genuine co-op. We say that we are all about people, but this is not rhetoric: it can be backed up.

Where would like to see The Phone Co-op in, let's say, 10 years?
I want to see The Phone Co-op as a flourishing beacon of fairness in the murky world of hidden charges and small print. To do this we have got to increase our presence and make people aware that there is a real alternative.

Read the full interview and ask your questions on our membership blog

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We've done it again: £60k goes to renewables

Our commitment to act responsibly and provide greener telecoms is reflected in many ways, including how we invest our money. We have supported renewable energy projects for years , and have just approved further investments in three new community wind farms.

One of them is Four Winds Co-op, which has received an investment of £30,000 from The Phone Co-op. Their share offer aims to raise £3.7 million to build two 0.5 megawatt wind turbines on former coalfield sites in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, and Shafton, Yorkshire.

Cornwall Community Power operates a number of projects throughout the county which are funded mainly by loans. With their share issue they want to swap some debt for co-operative share capital and increase community and member involvement. We have invested £20,000.

Finally, £10,000 has been invested in Wester Derry Wind Co-op, who plan to build a 250 kilowatt wind turbine at Wester Derry Farm, in Glen Isla, Scotland.

Do you want to find out more about other projects we've supported? Visit our blog!

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Election time: have your say

We recently sent out to members details of our AGM, which will take place on Saturday 21 February 2015 Handsin Birmingham, and a call for nominations to the board. There are two seats up for election and, if you are a member, you will shortly receive the candidates' profiles and a ballot paper. This is your chance to take part in choosing the people who set the direction of our business. Don't forget to have your say!

If you're not a member, you're missing out not only on the chance to vote but on other valuable benefits including a share of the profits. Signing up couldn't be simpler. Just visit or call 01608 434 006.

For more information about the AGM click here.

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10% extra on Co-op Mobile Pay As You Go top-ups to UK students

From the end of November, over 640,000 NUS Extra card holders will be able to benefit from our partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS). We are offering them 10% extra credit on online top-ups of their Co-operative Mobile SIM cards.

At The Phone Co-op, we know every penny counts for students. Life can be a struggle if you have to face high tuition fees, rent, food and bills. The NUS Extra card aims to help university students by allowing them to access discounts on a diverse range of products and services. Over 640,000 UK students, aged 18 to 24, benefit from it already.

Our commitment to students

The Co-operative Food partnered with NUS a year ago offering students a 10% discount on all groceries. In terms of turnover, this has been the most used benefit for cardholders. The launch of our Co-operative Mobile Pay As You Go service, available in 3,800 Co-operative stores across the country since April 2014, has deepened our relationship with The Co-operative Food and opened up new opportunities for us. Students will benefit from an exclusive deal on our Co-operative Mobile services, in conjunction with the Co-operative Food offer.

Our work with NUS is part of our work to demonstrate how co-operation can support students. For instance, we have recently bought a house in Birmingham and leased it to the Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative, enabling them to get started, and we are actively pursuing other opportunities like this. As usual, we'll keep you posted!

Do you know anyone who is 16 or over studying in Further or Higher Education? Details about this offer will be available very soon on

And remember, if they use our Pay As You Go SIM, calls and texts to other Co-operative Mobile users are half price!

"It's not expensive, but it is ethical"

Ryan Sains, 26, was one of our first PAYG customers back in the spring. He confesses he had been secretly hoping a co-op could offer a Pay As You Go service. As soon as we did, he joined us. But what does he like about this service? "I can top up easily and the bundles allow me to change my usage month on month depending on my budget. The service is in your hands but gives you everything you need too! And, of course, I love that it's a co-op!"


Ryan was one of our first Pay As You Go customers back in April

Ryan is not the only customer who has given us his opinion about our service. Want to know what other customers think? Follow the link to our 01608 434040 for all residential queries, and 01608 434070 for businesses.

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Better value for Namesco customers

At the end of October, we started migrating former Namesco customers to our broadband network. By this time, some of you will have switched over already; others may be just about to do so.

Moving your connection to our network allows us to offer you better value packages which we are confident will save you money and give you the fastest speed your line is capable of supporting. We are trying our best to make this migration as smooth as possible for all our customers.

We've been sending regular updates on this migration to all our Namesco customers by email. If you have not received them, or you have but still need some advice, please contact our colleagues on 01608 434040 for all residential queries, and 01608 434070 for businesses.

Alternatively, you can check the guide available on our website

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New broadband package: now unlimited!

For £23.50 a month, including line rental and weekend calls.This offer is available for new customers and existing customers who are not in a broadband package already, when you sign up to a 12-month contract.

More info on 01608 434 040 and Sign up now and you'll get your unlimited broadband at half price for the first 6 months! (That means you'll only pay £19.50 for the first during 6 months).

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Woodcraft Folk: co-op education for social change

Woodcraft Folk is the co-operative children and young people's charity, with over 300 volunteer-led local groups. Our affinity partnership has supported them for twelve years, by giving them back a share of the spend made by their members who become Phone Co-op customers.


Woodcraft aims to build children's awarerness of society around them

Founded in 1925 with funding from the Royal Arsenal Co-operative, Woodcraft Folk runs grassroots education groups in towns and cities across the UK, where young people of all ages meet to play games, make friends and learn about big ideas from climate change to social justice through co-operative activities.

In addition to weekly after-school meetings, Woodcraft Folk groups organise camps and outdoor activities where young people and adults co-operate to plan the event, run activities, cook food and share in all aspects of learning how to work together and live in harmony with the natural world.

"The affinity partnership is a great way to build on our historic links with the co-operative movement," says its General Secretary, Jon Nott. "It's a co-operative principle (no. 6) in action, helping us to promote co-operation with other co-operative organisations as well as raising funds to help us provide more opportunities for children and young people."

From under-fives (known as Woodchips), through Elfins (6-9), Pioneers (10-12), Venturers (13- 15), up to District Fellows (16-20) and volunteer leaders, there are opportunities for all ages to get involved, get outdoors, have fun and put co-operative values into practice.

To find your nearest Woodcraft Folk group and get involved as a young participant or as a volunteer, visit

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? Our partners endorse our services to their supporters and we share the revenue with them. To find out more, contact Pat Moral on 01608 647745 or

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The Phone Co-op shortlisted for the Living Wage Champions Awards 2014...

We were absolutely delighted to have been nominated for the first Living Wage Employer awards in the UK in Living_wage_shortlistedthe South East category.

The Living Wage Champions Awards recognise employers that have made great contributions to communities and industries by implementing and celebrating the Living Wage (an hourly rate set independently and updated annually, higher than the minimum wage).

Although we didn't win it this time, we see it as recognition for all the work we do to acknowledge our colleagues' contribution to our organisation. Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: "The commitment of Living Wage Employers to responsible pay makes a real difference to families and communities across the country."

... and recognised as Ethical Consumer Best Buy provider!Best_buy_logo

Ethical Consumer Magazine has awarded The Phone Co-op the Best Buy label for broadband, mobile, telephone line rental & e-mail. The Best Buy logo is a unique recognition that looks in detail at the ethical record of a company rating both the organisation itself and its products against more than 20 animal welfare, environmental and human rights criteria.

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