It's all about connections - how community co-operatives join up the dots When The Centurion Pub in Vicars Cross, Cheshire, shut in January 2016 it was taken on by the local community and re-opened later on in the same year. Now, far from being simply a pub, local groups have been invited to use the space. This includes the WI who hold get-together teas with cakes and darts on Mondays. Bright Life, an organisation supported by Age UK, also hold their monthly meetings there – a move which has seen membership grow significantly. It’s easy to see how using a community co-operative in this way has a huge impact when it comes to bringing people together, and in doing so reducing rural isolation. As the team at The Centurion puts it: “By opening our doors from 9am and offering a whole manner of activities besides just the pub side, people feel integrated with a sense of belonging and they feel welcome in all ways.” Since the Anglers Rest in the Peak District village of Bamford was taken over as a community co-operative in 2013, it has become an important centre for activities as varied as U3A meetings, “crafty coffee” sessions, folk music and singing – as well as somewhere people can meet informally. It seems there is no limit to the different types of organisations which we are seeing using community co-operatives – the village shop in Berkshire’s Beech Hill, which was taken over by the community in 2013, has teamed up with the local cinema club which is particularly effective at getting people out of their houses during the winter months. It’s all about being inclusive and making sure that as many people as possible can have a warm, welcoming place to meet up and socialise, whatever their interests. Do you run a local group and need somewhere to meet? Why not find your nearest community co-operative and see if they might have the answer! Use our maps to locate your nearest co-operative pub and community shop.