Suffolk: Social enterprise Leading Lives rolls-out employee-ownership concept

Leading Lives' first birth celebrations

Leading Lives' first birth celebrations - Credit: Archant

Employee-owned co-operative Leading Lives has now enrolled more than a third of its workforce as members since its formation a year ago.

The new members include staff from across the organisation who will now be able to have direct input into how the business is run.

Leading Lives is a not-for-profit social enterprise, spun out from Suffolk Council Council, and a member of the EADT’s Suffolk Future50 listing of businesses with high growth potential.

It provides a wide range of support services for more than 1,200 adults with learning disabilities across the whole of Suffolk including those with physical, multiple complex needs and autism, older people, young people in transition and family carers.

When established a year ago, the progressive business model of an employee-owned co-operative was selected to place staff at heart of the strategic direction of the new organisation. The company’s 11-strong board will be made up entirely of staff.


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The first group of 150 staff to have all completed a special induction programme to ensure understanding of the ethos behind an employee-owned co-operative and their role within it.

Staff who are members are able to stand for election to the company’s board and vote to elect their peers, giving them democratic control over the strategic direction of the business.

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Tony Carr, managing director, said: “This is a significant milestone in the development of our new company.

“We are a business that is built around our staff in terms of the work they do to provide a whole range of support services to vulnerable people, based on their individual needs. It’s only right that we recognise the importance of our staff and empower them to shape the strategic direction of the company by being able to sit on, and vote for our board.

“Our staff are also in direct contact with customers, developing a unique relationship with them and their family carers. They bring all this knowledge to our decision making process to ensure we are developing services in line with what our customers want.”

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