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Spring 2016

Contents

Our co-operative difference
New products and services
News from the team

AGM - Impact Hub, Westminster, London

In recent years we have been holding our AGMs in different locations around the UK and this year we made it to our capital city, a short pigeon flight from Trafalgar Square. Impact Hub is a social enterprise community centre that shares its values with the co-operative movement, offering office space to support social innovators. We were well cared for, the facilities were bright and funky and the lunch was excellent!

Students

125 members participated - a record number - and the enthusiasm and knowledge demonstrated was infectious. The majority of attendees were residential customers, but being members meant that there was an interest in all aspects of the organisation and so the event started with a presentation on our strategy for signing up and engaging businesses. There was a vigorous question and answer session at the end of the meeting, which demonstrated a high level of engagement with members.

The meeting included a demonstration of the new Fairphone. Fiona and Lee from the Products team, took the phone apart, rebuilt it, passed it round for members to play with and answered a range of queries about this exciting new product. Orders are flowing in for this most ethical of mobile phones.

Simultaneously, a brainstorming session was held with some of our champions. If you don't yet know, champions are members who have offered to help promote The Phone Co-op's products and services to the wider community. This can be as simple as handing out leaflets to friends or as involved as giving a talk to an interested group. A lively discussion resulted in some good ideas as to where champions can make a real difference.

After a very tasty lunch, which gave everyone the chance to discuss issues with like-minded members, ask questions at the customer services desk and engage in conversation with our three exhibitors: Shared Interest, Co-operative College and Community Network, we sat down for the formal part of the meeting. Vivian delivered the Directors' report and covered the important events and financial accounts of the previous financial year (download the presentation at www.thephone.coop/membership). There are always plenty of questions at our AGMs but this year members were even more engaged than usual and enjoyed raising a wide and varied range of issues.

The meeting ended with an inspiring presentation from Birmingham Student Housing Co-op who The Phone Co-op has enabled to find a home by investing in a suitable property. Take a few minutes to look at the fascinating film that was shown www.youtube.com/Phonecoop.

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Half Yearly Meeting Saturday 9 July

 As you will see from the previous article about our AGM in February, our members' meetings are lively, interesting and engaging events. We try to make a distinction between the AGM, which has presentations and speakers as well as a formal part to the meeting, and the Half Yearly Meeting (HYM), which is more collaborative and includes workshops and a shorter formal element. The aim of this meeting is to find out what you think, want and consider important.

This year's HYM meeting will be held at Chipping Norton Town Hall, as it was last year. An excellent caterer has been booked and the agenda is being discussed - we will make sure it is enjoyable, informative and interactive. One session will focus on the Single Transferable Vote. Previous surveys and feedback from members have shown an interest in moving to this voting style and so we are going to run a mock election to see how it works - should be both fun and educational!

Further information on the HYM will follow and it is open to all members to attend. If you are not yet a member of The Phone Co-op, please consider it. As a member you are effectively a co-owner of your co-operative - you can get involved as much, or as little as you like. You can stand for the Board (once you have been a member for six months), vote in elections and participate in our meetings. Your views on our organisation are always valued. We may send you a short survey occasionally, or ask your opinion on various issues via blogs on our website. All you need to do is invest £1 (max. £100k) and you will earn interest currently at 1.75% and a dividend based on your call spend with us - a little bit back for using our services. Joining is so easy - just head to our website at

www.thephone.coop/membership and we look forward to welcoming you soon.

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Bala, the Fairtrade ball

Bala is a Glasgow based co-op with 112 member investors, including The Phone Co-op. The co-operative was officially launched in February 2015 with the aim of ensuring a fair deal and a better life for sports balls workers in Pakistan. All Bala balls are designed in Glasgow and made in the city of Sialkot in the Punjab, where around 70% of the world's hand stitched balls are made.

BALA worker_web.jpg

The balls are made to the same standards as FIFA balls and workers enjoy safe working conditions, access to union representation and fair pay. They also benefit from the extra 10% cash Premium which they invest democratically in projects such as free eye tests and subsidised treatment, free school books and back-packs  for their children, and water purification plants.

Back in the UK, Bala is also supporting community initiatives like The Homeless World Cup jointly sponsored with Scotmid Co-operative becoming official match ball partners to support this unique event in Glasgow during July this year.

The Phone Co-op is giving away two of the Play edition Bala balls. To enter, please email us at: marketing@thephone.coop telling us what you think makes Bala balls unique. 

Or you can order yours today direct from Bala at http://www.balasport.co.uk/.

New products and services

Fairphone Sales Update 

In the last newsletter, we reported that we'd sold out of our first batch of Fairphone 2s. Well, that was just the start, as we are about to receive our fourth batch direct from the Netherlands!

It's fair to say that Fairphone 2 has surpassed all our expectations, and become a runaway hit with those of you who've picked one up. After opening pre-sales in September, and a successful demonstration at our AGM in February, we've shipped over 1,000 of these innovative, modular mobiles, with more on the way.

Fairphone sales update Lee page 3_web.jpg

We've now got enough stock to stop taking pre-orders, so if you've been waiting, you can order a new Fairphone 2 direct from our website today and have it in your hands within days.

We have 3G and 4G bundles available from £25, as well as our unique Pay As You Use service for lighter users. Or, if you already have a Phone Co-op mobile service, you can just buy the handset for £425 incl. VAT.

Fairphone 2 runs on Android 5.1, so if you've spent the last couple of years using Samsung, Sony, HTC, Motorola or LG phones, you'll be right at home with the interface, and can re-download any apps you've already bought from the Google Play Store. It's a dual SIM phone, so you can use it for work and home, and with expandable storage via MicroSD, there's plenty of room  for music and photos.

More importantly, it's a phone with a conscience. Fairphone are working closely with manufacturers who want to improve and invest in employees' wellbeing, and they source materials that support local economies, not armed militas. By making the Fairphone 2 modular, they have focused on longevity and repairability to extend the phone's usable life and give you more control over your phone.

If you're still not sure what the fuss is about, check out the Fairphone portal at www.thephone.coop/fairphone.

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Recurring PAYG Bundles

Fans of our Pay As You Go bundles will soon have a new reason to love the service, along with the variety of bundles on offer, and our per second charging that makes every bundle last longer than the competitors'.
We will very shortly be able to offer recurring, or rolling bundles. At the moment, each bundle we sell lasts for 30 days, and if you want to renew your bundle, you need to re-order it again - which is easy to forget, and something of a chore.

Starting soon, you will be able to use a special keyword when you order your bundle, and as long as you have enough credit on your phone, it will automatically renew after thirty days. Furthermore, if you register for our online top up service, you can also set up a regular top up, so you'll always have enough credit. Then you never need to worry about forgetting to top up and renew your bundle again, you can just let us handle it!

Keep your eye on payg.thephone.coop for updates as we get closer to launch.

Nominate your charity for 500 FREE minutes teleconferencing

Loneliness has been a much discussed news topic over the winter months. Recently, The Co-operative Business Telecoms team (part of The Phone Co-op) joined charity partners Community Network (ComNet) at their Talking Communities Together event to further explore how telecommunications can be used for social benefit.

Marianne O'Brien, Head of Business Operations here at The Phone Co-op said: "Our team really enjoyed helping ComNet and their trained volunteers facilitate Talking Communities - peer support in groups via the telephone, for individuals at risk of loneliness."

Robert Edmonds, ComNet's Charity CEO, said: "Our partnership with The Phone Co-op enables us to focus on our charitable aims, tackling loneliness and isolation through telecommunications."

Read more on how you can nominate a charity to receive 500 FREE teleconferencing minutes: https://business.thephone.coop/about-us/partnerships/.

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News from the team

New Head Office Building - Chipping Norton

The Phone Co-op has always wanted to own its own head office building, so we could invest for the long-term in the things that matter most to our members and colleagues. We will be able to make the site more energy efficient, and create a really good environment for our colleagues to work in, where we can be creative and productive.

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The town centre location will reduce car usage as many people who currently drive to our offices on the edge of town will be able to walk to work easily. The new premises are also close to the main bus routes, making this an easier option for colleagues and visitors. We also believe that the offices will be a good long-term investment for The Phone Co-op and its members, representing better overall value for money than renting.

2016 London Marathon

Not long until Daryl's big day! As we told you in our Winter newsletter, he has been training very hard in preparation for the 2016 London Marathon on behalf of Leonard Cheshire Disability.

This is a charitable organisation that supports disabled people in having the freedom to live their lives the way they choose - with the opportunity and support to live independently, contribute economically and participate fully in society.

If you would like to sponsor Daryl from our Customer Services team, please
go to his Just Giving page (www.justgiving.com/teams/Chippybrothersforagnescourt).

Welcome to the team!

Per Simonsen joined our Finance team back in February as our new Chief Financial Officer. Per_web.jpg

Per, originally from Denmark, has lived in the UK for nearly 25 years. He has lived in the lovely town of Cheltenham for the past 20 years with his wife where they have been fostering children for the last 8 years.

Per has worked as CFO for a number of companies including Toyota, Bodum and Netto. Prior to coming to the UK, Per operated his own business as a freelance Financial Director. In addition to working for The Phone Co-op, he lectures part time at Gloucester College in Finance, Accounts & Marketing. We are looking forward to putting his experience to good use in helping us grow.

 
We are here to serve our members and customers, and we like to provide you with interesting news and updates. Tell us how we are doing and if there is anything you want us to write about. Contact us by email on marketing@thephone.coop

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