Let’s work together

In tough times our social capital is every bit as important as our financial resources. But it’s a mistake to think of them as separate. There are lots of old and new ways of connecting with others that also boost your bottom line.


Trade unions

Use your experience or just your membership fee to help others in your industry. In return you get a whole network of allies to protect your interests and sometimes access to free resources like financial advice, legal advice, training and reduced price insurance, holidays or gym memberships.


Roughly one fifth of the UK workforce is a member of a union and many of the workers who have fared best since the financial crash of 2008 are those with unions looking out for them. Each union is different so you can find the one that best suits you on the TUC website https://www.tuc.org.uk


Credit unions

Imagine your savings being used to help people in your community, with no risk to you. That’s what credit unions do. They make small loans available often to people who can’t access bank loans. This is a vital service in a world of loan sharks and high interest online loans companies. And if you use them to save your money, you’ll find they have the same regulations as high street banks but because they’re non-profit, you might get a much better return.


Naturally the Money Saving Expert has a an all-you-need-to-know guide http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/credit-unions and you can find out which credit unions are available to you here https://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk


Food cooperatives

These take many forms, from a trendy grocery shop to a weekly market stall to a warehouse on the edge of town and more. The principle that unites them is using bulk buying power to get better prices for their customers. And by customers, sometimes that means members but most allow non-members to shop with them too.


Surely no one does bulk buying better than the big four supermarkets? On a whole household shop, probably, but coops usually focus on healthy foods, organics, seasonal produce and local suppliers, which tend to be premium products in a supermarket. If your New Year’s resolution is to dump the junk from your diet, your local food coop could give you the motivation you need.


Farm box delivery schemes

On the face of it, again this is about healthy eating but actually it’s another form of meeting your needs in a way that strengthens your local community. In return you get the benefit of tapping into local know how, meeting new people and being part of something.


The people delivering the boxes usually work on the farm that grows the contents of the boxes so they are as knowledgeable as the greengrocers of yesteryear. In small schemes the man or woman driving the van is the farmer. Ask them why so many broad beans and they’ll tell you how the local weather has affected the crop. Ask how to cook the broad beans and they’ll tell you that too, on your doorstep, no internet required.


Lift sharing

Whether you drive or whether you don’t, lift sharing could help you save money on getting around. One of the biggest national providers is https://liftshare.com/uk . You’ll also find workplace schemes, local area schemes and even international services.


You sign up, say what you’re looking for and the system finds others like you. You can usually filter for things like gender. Safety is taken seriously and you’re advised to meet in a public place, rather than at your address. If it’s a long journey it’s a good idea to mention any strong preferences about in car entertainment. Agree on costs and away you go.


Once you start looking our for sharing opportunities you’ll start noticing cafes that are actually social enterprises, dress swapping clubs (or swishing parties as they’re sometimes called), even community self-build housing projects.


And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in your area, you can bet that someone has posted a how-to guide on the internet so you can start your own. It would cost you in time and hard work but then you’d gain more in satisfaction and new friends, which is the stuff that makes any job worth doing.


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