Holyoake House in Manchester
Holyoake House, Manchester

A much-lauded community of Manchester-based social entrepreneurs have moved from The Federation building to Holyoake House, a Grade II listed building opposite Manchester Victoria station, managed by trade body, Co-operatives UK.

Lauren Coulman of Noisy Cricket, who worked closely with Co-operatives UK to explore the move said,

“As the lockdown eases and people start to come back to shared workplaces, we’re delighted we can continue to be part of the co-operative quarter and the heritage that our community was nurtured in. Holyoake House might not be shiny and new, but the ethical approach and community spirit align with our own community, and we’re working with Co-operatives UK to create a long-term proposition for a social innovation space that meets our growing need.”

In the face of significant competition from co-working spaces that vied to attract the well-respected Federation community of digital and social enterprises, Holyoake House was something of a wild card as it is not widely known for its co-working and tech space. 

The move is a sign of things to come, says former COO of The Sharp Project and now CEO at Co-operatives UK, Rose Marley…

“Bringing tech social enterprises into what is the home of co-operation is a powerful symbol of how our movement is evolving to meet the digital challenges of the future. The pandemic has shone a light on inequalities across the UK which is something we are all interested in addressing. But it has also changed the way we fundamentally work and view office space. Holyoake House is changing its offer for social enterprise and co-operatives who still see the value of coming together when they need to, but in a community that shares their wider philosophy.” 

Holyoake House Objects Plaque
Holyoake House Objects Plaque

Russell Gill from The Co-op Group said,

“We are absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to support the community at Federation to find a space that aligns with the co-operative values and ethical principles and keep them together to benefit from co-working.”

Co-operatives UK is the trade body for the UK’s co-operative sector, which contributes over £38 billion to the UK economy. Holyoake House was built in 1911 from subscriptions provided by co-operatives across the UK and is named after George Jacob Holyoake, a key figure in the co-operative movement, which was founded in Rochdale in 1844 and has spread across the world.

The Federation community is a group of digital and social enterprises who share the co-operative values of social responsibility, openness, honesty and caring for others. Formerly based in the Federation building just across the road from Holyoake House, they have been supported by Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation, since 2018.

In partnership with Luminate, the Foundation provided funded co-working desk space to community members to help them share learning, co-operate on joint ventures and increase each other’s impact tackling inequality. They also supported the creation of the Greater Manchester Responsible Tech Collective, a group of organisations passionate about tackling issues in tech, such as racial inequality and data ethics. The Foundation is currently working to identify new ways to support the community and wider ethical tech sector in the north west.  

Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation, said,

“Ethical social enterprises supported through our Luminate programme have become stronger together thanks to the co-operative values they all hold. We look forward to this continuing at Holyoake House as we work together to empower people affected by inequality to speak out and make change. The last 12 months have proved just how important co-operation can be, and I’m delighted they remain part of our co-operative world in Manchester.”