Our work

We’re a relatively new organisation, and prior to our becoming the Solidarity Economy Association in June 2017, we undertook activity under our former name, the Institute for Solidarity Economics.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can support our work or partner with us on a project, we’d love to hear from you.


Undertaking and supporting research that supports the growth of alternative economic systems to Capitalism is a core part of our work. Take a look at some of the research projects we’ve supported so far:

Not Alone research project

More than 15% of the workforce is self-employed (some 4.6 million people) and this percentage is set to increase. With the rise of freelancing comes a fundamental shift in the nature of work. Some, driven by the lure of freedom, are choosing to be self-employed; others are going freelance out of necessity. Changes to the labour market mean that zero hours contracts, part-time work and ‘portfolio’ careers are becoming more and more the norm.

We are supporting the second phase of the Not Alone: Trade Union & Co-operative Solutions for Self-Employed Workers research project to look at recent trends in self-employment, both here in the UK and across the world, and to consider how the co-operative and trade union movements can serve and protect the growing precariat. The first report was published in 2016, with the second due out in the second half of 2017.

The project is being undertaken by Co-operatives UK in partnership with the Wales Co-operative Centre and Unity Trust Bank.

Participatory Planning Simulation Project

We’ve been supporting a team of researchers at Portland University, directed by Prof Robin Hahnel, to develop digital simulations to model the Participatory Planning economic system.

Participatory Economics is a model for a new economy based on democracy, justice and ecological sustainability proposed as an alternative to our current economic system. We were the first organisation to support this work, to model how the system could work, and members of the team were also active in the research and provided some feedback to the research team.

Feeding the Gaps Report

We supported an Oxford-based research project delivered by Good Food Oxford to explore the problem of food poverty and food waste in the city.

The research team spoke to staff and volunteers working in existing food services and community groups, collecting their stories relating to food waste and food poverty, and were able to piece together the picture for Oxford. Feeding the Gaps report was published at the end of September 2014.

Furthering Education on the Solidarity Economy Movement

One of our most significant pieces of education work to date has been our Co-operative Economy in Rojava and Bakur project.

The Co-operative Economy in Rojava and Bakur Project

The co-operative movement in Rojava (the democratic, autonomous region in the north of Syria) and Bakur (the mostly Kurdish region which lies within Turkey’s border) is thriving.
In Rojava, a revolution is taking place, based on the political model of Democratic Confederalism, and within this system, workers’ co-operatives play an integral part in reshaping the economy. People here are taking collective control of their lives and workplaces.
In Bakur, co-operatives have been set up within a similar model of democratic autonomy, despite the ongoing military repression by the state of Turkey.
The Co-operative Economy in Rojava and Bakur project provides the only comprehensive English language information resource on this subject. Our aim is to make it easier for those who want to better understand what’s happening in the region, and to learn about the alternative economic changes that are underway. We’;re doing this by collating all of the information that exists on the internet from around the world, and uploading it onto the project’s website, which is searchable via keywords. We’re also translating information from a range of languages, including Turkish, Kurmanji, German, Spanish and Arabic into English.
The more knowledge that we have of the achievements of the co-operative movement in the Kurdish regions, the more we can support and learn from our fellow co-operators there, and the revolutionary way that they are transforming their economy under very challenging conditions.

Principle Six Plus Grants

The Principle Six Plus Fund was a one-off funding pot of £10,000 launched in 2015. Its aim was to support existing or new research or education projects that further co-operation between co-operatives. Applications to the fund were assessed by our network members and grants made accordingly. Through the fund we supported the following initiatives:


SolidFund is a worker co-op solidarity fund established to help build a strong, growing and self-reliant network of successful workers’ co-operatives. It is a permanent common fund, paid for by members who can subscribe for as little as £1 per week.

Find out more

National Body of Student Housing Co-ops Report

The fund provided support for Students for Cooperation to carry out the feasibility scoping and create a 48 page report showing the possibility of creating a National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives.

Young Co-operators Network

We supported AltGen to set up the Young Co-operators Network. AltGen is an organisation that helps young people set up workers’ co-operatives as an alternative to competitive, precarious and low-wage career paths.

Find out more


Mapping the Solidarity Economy

We’re undertaking significant work to map the diverse initiatives, activity and movements that make up the Solidarity Economy Movement.

We believe that in mapping the diversity of the Solidarity Economy Movement within the UK, the movement will be strengthened. The easier it is to find participants within it, the easier it will be to understand it, to support it, and for those actively involved in it to collaborate. Our mapping work contributes directly to a number of our strategic aims, from helping to inform and educate people about the Solidarity Economy, to championing the activity within it and creating a thriving and supportive network.

Linked Open Data Infrastructure

Data is the fuel that powers the World Wide Web. Huge global corporations realise that it is the most valuable commodity today, converting it into massive financial rewards for the few. For the Solidarity Economy, it can power the growth of our movement, and help to claw back some of what has been taken from us by global capitalism.

Data can help us grow by documenting what’s out there, through maps, for example. More people will use and support economic alternatives if they are easy to find.

We’ve been undertaking a detailed study of the role that Linked Open Data can play in helping us to map the Solidarity Economy, and produced an experimental Linked Open Data describing over 13,000 UK co-operative organisations using Co-operatives UK’s open dataset.


Click here to view the map of 13,000 UK co-operatives using Linked Open Data.

You can find out more in our Strategy for Linked Open Data, or if you’d like to speak to us about this work, Matt Wallis would love to hear from you.