Who are we?

Leading Lives is the largest social care workers co-op in the UK. We are based in and around Suffolk.

What do we do?

We provide a range of support to adults with learning disabilities and autistic people in and around Suffolk, enabling them to lead the lives they choose.

Quick facts

Industry Health and Social Care
Turnover£10 million per annum
Who are the members?Employees
GovernanceElected directors
PayVariable pay
Legal formCo-operative Society

How do we operate?

As an employee-owned company, Leading Lives is a democratic organisation.

  • Eligible employees can become members, each member has one share, one share equals one vote.
  • At any one time around 90% of our eligible employees are shareholders.
  • All shareholders can vote on key issues relating to the delivery and development of the company at Annual General Meetings (AGM’s) or SGM (special general meetings when called.
  • The business is managed by a Board of Directors who are elected by the members to be their voice on bigger decisions. The Board can have up to 16 members including 2 ex-officios, 2 non-executive directors and 2 from our shareholder council.

Where did we come from?

Leading Lives spun out of Suffolk County Council in July 2012. We were formed without assets in the bank, without lots of equipment or resources, but what we had was a team of over 300 committed, well trained and experienced staff.

Why are we a co-op?

The decision for an employee-owned company was based on our realisation that the employees will always be our most valuable asset, with the real value of services to the customer being based on the expertise and commitment of the support staff. Through this structure, the commitment of valued staff can be recognised and connected to the needs of the business. Employee members within co-operatives can be the most loyal and enterprising individuals as they work within an organisation they own.

Lessons learned

For anyone just starting out on their co-op journey we would say that it’s helpful to have a positive attitude to learning, and to encourage employees to use any mistakes as opportunities to learn. This keeps us all open and moving forward rather than getting stuck in a blame drain! We’d also say to reach out to other Co-ops, we’ve learnt some brilliant things from other co-ops and it’s great to be part of such a collaborative movement.