In this section

Summer 2013

Contents

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

You can also download a pdf version of this newsletter here

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15 years of co-operative success

Vivian Woodell, founder and CEO of The Phone Co-op, thanks our customers and members for their support over these last 15 years. 

The Phone Co-op has come a long way in the last 15 years. We started in 1998 in a spare bedroom with just £36,000 scraped together by a small group of enthusiastic early members, and we provided just one service (phone calls on landlines). Today we serve 23,000 customers, we employ 70 people and we have over 9,500 members. We also provide a wide array of services, fixed and mobile, to businesses, charities and other organisations and, of course, to home users. But the statistics only tell part of the story.

15th Anniversary

"We are demonstrating that a different way of doing business, with values that put people, rather than profit for investors, at the heart of things, can be a success in an industry where trust is all-too-scarce a commodity".

None of this growth would have been possible without you, our customers and members. As well as showing real loyalty, you have invested in the growth of your co-operative, and promoted us to your friends, colleagues and neighbours. I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to you all for being such excellent ambassadors. Please keep spreading the news to everyone about how they can join, and part-own, a business with a real difference!

 

Celebrate with us

At The Phone Co-op, we cannot wait to celebrate our 15th anniversary. We will be at Co-operative Congress, in Cardiff, to share our learning and experience over these last 15 years with other co-operators, but we also want to reward our members and customers for their loyalty. In the next couple of months, we will be providing you with new products and services that will make your life easier. Look out for more details in the next more details in the next edition of this newsletter.

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Our co-operative difference

Investing in a fan-owned football club

The Phone Co-op is committed to investing in community projects that reflect our co-operative approach. Last year, we invested £5,000 from our Co-operative and Social Economy Development Fund in F.C. United of Manchester, a community-owned football club. 

FC_United_Manchester

Photo Credit - Jason Downes

F.C. United of Manchester was founded in 2005 by a group of committed Manchester United supporters opposed to the Glazer family taking over their club. They were dissatisfied by the way that the game had developed in recent years and decided to set up a new club that would be owned and run for the benefit of their community. F.C. United of Manchester now has over 3,000 members who co-own and run the club and its next and most ambitious project is to build its own stadium, something that will be helped by The Phone Co-op's investment.

"The money we have received from The Phone Co-op has gone into our Community Share Scheme," explains Andy Walsh, General Manager of the sports club. "We are extremely grateful for the support from The Phone Co-op. Gaining the support of a successful fellow co-op for our project is a great boost and one which we see endorses the approach that we have taken."

The new facility will provide the football club with a place to play its games, but it will also house F.C. United's wide range of programmes in the community. Last year, the club's community initiatives  -which turned over £200,000- included visiting local schools to promote healthy habits amongst children and supporting young adults to get into employment and education.

F.C. United of Manchester has already raised almost £1.8 million in community shares and has got planning permission for its £5.5 million development in Moston.  To find out more about the club and its share offer, visit:  http://www.fc-utd.co.uk

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Learning the skills of co-operation

Eight members of our Customer Services team are participating in a new apprenticeship programme run by The Co-operative College. The programme aims to help them develop their personal and professional skills and understand how co-operation can improve everyday business practice.

The Co-operative College offers apprenticeship programmes in Business Administration, Retail, Team Leading and Customer Service. It usually takes around 12 months to complete each course, but the programme is flexible: it can be shorter or longer depending on the learner's needs.

Through this programme our colleagues will be learning how co-operative values and principles can help us improve our services. At every step of the apprenticeship, participants are encouraged to relate what they are learning back to working in a co-operative. Katie Roberts, who works in our office in Chipping Norton, is pleased to have been offered the opportunity to expand her skills and knowledge in this way.

"I believe it is important for The Phone Co-op, and other businesses, to develop their staff. Not only will it help staff give a better customer experience to the customers but, as we learn new things, we can help the business grow."

The Co-operative College is an educational charity. For nearly 100 years, it has worked with individuals and groups to achieve the understanding they need to put the co-operative values and principles into practice and build successful co-operative businesses.

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New products and services

Superfast broadband without the super small print 

The Co-operative phone and broadband has just launched its superfast fibre broadband service, but why is this good for our customers? Sue Powell, from our Products Team, offers some insight into what we mean when we say "superfast". 

We now offer superfast fibre broadband. You may have heard the term before and seen it advertised both in the media and on the green telephone cabinets in the street, but what exactly is fibre broadband?

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Fibre broadband is the next generation of broadband access to be rolled out across the UK. The broadband signal travels along fibre optic cables to those big green cabinets you can see on the street. Bringing fibre closer to your home means we can offer a higher data speed.

Fibre broadband may be much faster, but does that mean everyone will benefit from Superfast broadband? The answer depends on what you use the internet for.

The way we use the internet is changing. A few years ago, the internet was mainly used for browsing web pages and email. Now it's used for so much more. Faster broadband speeds will make displaying web pages much faster, but the advantage of fibre broadband is if you use your internet connection for multi-media content. For example, fibre broadband is ideal for high quality catch up TV services or streaming movies. All these exciting developments require faster broadband speeds and so fibre broadband allows you to make the most of the internet.

The fibre broadband network will cover over 65% of the country by the end of 2013, and so there is a good chance that you can receive superfast phone and broadband from The Co-operative Phone and Broadband now or in the very near future. The service can be installed in around two weeks and setting it up could not be easier. We will arrange for qualified engineer to come to your house to activate the service and they will even set up your computer for you.

Superfast Broadband is available as a £10 per month upgrade from our home phone and broadband package.

To find out more about our range of superfast fibre broadband options and see if this service available where you live, click here.

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Register your interest and we'll get in touch

Customers and members of The Phone Co-op now have the opportunity to set reminders if they are interested in our services and products but still not ready to start a new contract with us.

Just set your reminder here or call us on 03303 556677, and we will sort everything out for you. Remember that calls to an 03 number cost the same as calls to a landline even from a mobile.

 

Meet our Affinity Partner

Sharing Positive News

The Phone Co-op works with over 200 affinity partners in the UK, mainly charities, non-profit organisations and fellow co-operatives, helping them and their supporters make a difference. A partnership for us means exactly that, a way of working together for mutual benefit, and when our partners bring us customers we share the revenue with them. Over the years, our affinity partners have benefited to the tune of over £600,000.

One of our most long-standing affinity partnerships has been with Positive News.

PositiveNews

If you haven't heard of them yet, Positive News is the world's first positive newspaper. Focusing on solutions, it reports on people and initiatives that are creating a sustainable, fair and fulfilling world.

"Positive News informs, inspires and empowers its readers, while helping create a more constructive and balanced media," says its Marketing Manager Oliver Sylvester-Bradley.

Positive News will be 20 years old this month and we would like to say "Happy Birthday" to its team. We hope we will work together for at least another 20 years and beyond.

Find out more about Positive News or how to subscribe at www.positivenews.org.uk.

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? Call Pat Moral on 0845 458 9045 or email pat.moral@thephone.coop for more details.

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Coming soon

Did you know that, from October this year, you will be able to get a Fairphone?Fairphone

At The Phone Co-op, we want to support Fairphone, and we plan to offer you one with your mobile bundle very soon.

Fairphone will be the first handset in the market that is designed and produced to put people and the environment first. This smartphone will have all the features of a cutting-edge mobile phone but with the extra value of providing transparency in the supply chain - it will be made of conflict-free minerals and produced in a factory that ensures decent wages to its workers.

"As a designer, it disturbs me that no one in the world truly understands how a mobile phone is made", says Fairphone's founder and CEO Bas van Abel. "By buying this phone, you put social values first and join a movement to change the way things are made".

In order to raise the funds to produce this handset, Fairphone has just launched a pre-order campaign. If 5,000 phones are pre-ordered by 14th June, the first handsets will be produced and shipped to buyers in Europe in the autumn.

To find out more about this campaign, visit www.fairphone.com.

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Dear member, we would love to hear from you

Having a say is as easy as dropping us a line. Send us your feedback, ideas and suggestions to membership@thephone.coop and we'll make sure your voice is heard. 

Not yet a member?

If you haven't become a member yet, join us now. You can become a member for as little as a £1 and be part of our success story!

As a consumer co-operative, The Phone Co-op is owned by its members. Members earn interest on their investment and have a share in surplus profits. You can influence the way we are run by standing for the board of directors, vote at our Annual General Meeting, and have a say in how we invest our profits. So far over 9,500 of our customers have become members but we would like all our customers to join us. Click here or or call our Membership Team on 0845 458 9003.

 

Tell a friend

Happy with our services? Proud of being a member of The Phone Co-op?

Then, tell your friends. Follow us on Twitter @phonecoop and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ThePhoneCoop and spread the word. We are the only phone and broadband provider in the UK owned by you. 

 

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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