Co-operators in Sheffield have access to a new co-operative event space thanks to the work of Regather, the city’s trading co-op.
Regather began after Gareth Roberts completed research into “business models that were essentially a platform on which people could work together and make things happen”. After managing events as a sole trader, Mr Roberts and two other co-workers set up Regather Co-operative in 2010, and developed a model responsive to local needs. The co-op now counts around 10 co-workers among its members, with over 30 additional people involved in different capacities.
Formerly the Horn Handle works, the Regather Works was built on Club Garden Road, Sharrow, in 1897 and has seen a number of business tenants over the years. Originally renting a single unit, the co-operative has grown to occupy the entire space, which has been renamed the Regather Works and operates as a social action centre by day and intimate events venue by night.
“The traders here are a group of co-op members and associated people who do all different types of business under one roof. We’re a diverse collection of people involved in activities that are about connecting,” said Mr Roberts.
The mission of Regather is to give people the choice and opportunity to “live, work and play co-operatively and create a mutual local economy”, he adds, and to develop alternatives to traditional forms of employment.
The space offers by-the-hour access to specialised spaces and equipment, including a fully hygiene-certified kitchen, a classroom or conferencing space, an activity studio and basic materials workshop, while traders operating under the Regather umbrella now include a microbrewery, weekly fruit and veg box scheme, cafe, catering kitchen and a Green Home Sheffield initiative.
The venue space itself hosts weekly food events, and film, comedy and music events.
But although they have expanded to include so many different sectors and businesses, Mr Roberts believes the co-op has now come full circle. “We have seen real renewed interest,” he said, “especially in the co-operative trading / incubator / project management combo that we we started in.”