Our First Ever AGM!

Glasgow Student Housing Co-operative recently held our first ever Annual General Meeting! This was a really exciting milestone for us, and it gave everyone a chance to reflect on just how far we’ve come since GSHC started almost a year ago. Members spent some time during the meeting discussing things ranging from our finances to how we plan on recruiting new members this academic year.


Although a lot of very important discussions were had during the meeting, I’m sure that all of us agree (consensus, baby! now that’s what I’m talking about!) that the highlight of the event was our social afterwards. Everyone was very hungry after all of that co-op talk so we headed to The Hug and Pint in the West End of Glasgow where there was some great food and even better company, and after that we headed to a pub just around the corner.

It is truly incredible to think that this time last year, everyone involved in this project were complete strangers, and now our co-op has grown into a caring and supportive community in which friendships extend beyond just co-op business. Cue very cute pictures of some of our lovely members:

Thankfully, the night didn’t end there! Some of us then went out to bust a move and cut some shapes in Glasgow city centre. It’s a shame the DJ didn’t play everyone’s favourite song about cooperation from Sesame Street – that would have gone down a TREAT. We had to settle for Beyoncé’s ‘Bootylicious’ instead. Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of this part of the night; we were all far too busy twerking.

I think it is safe to say that Glasgow Student Housing Co-op’s very first AGM was a huge success. Here’s to many more!


GSHC & Scottish Housing Day

Today is Scottish Housing Day.

Scottish Housing Day aims to raise public awareness of the latest developments in housing, different options available when deciding where to live and give people easier access to the resources they need to make properly informed housing decisions. One of this year’s themes is addressing the specific challenges facing younger people, a demographic that many students fall into.

we're supporting SHD

According to the Student Living Index, compiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Glasgow is the least affordable city for students in the UK. One of the biggest expenses for many students is rent. Regardless of whether you live in a shared flat or in halls, rents are increasing and the standard of the accommodation received in return often doesn’t reflect this.

Many students, especially those who have just moved to Glasgow from abroad or are leaving home for the fist time, aren’t fully aware of their rights as a tenant. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation from unscrupulous landlords. Rents are expensive, often repairs aren’t done quickly (or at all) and most people we have spoken to have one or two horror stories about their time spent renting as a student.

Earlier in the year we built a house (unfortunately too small for us to move into) to record peoples’ thoughts about the project and about co-ops in general.  On the back of our house we have been collecting stories from students about problems they’ve experienced living in the private rented sector.


Here are some of the highlights:

My ex-landlord altered a contract on Photoshop after we’d signed it.

Failed to tell us about the rat infestation.

My landlord kept it a secret that my kitchen floor had fallen through.

My ex-landlord made me live in mouldy conditions.

An electrician said the wiring in my flat was unsafe and the landlord never fixed it.

Getting threatened with eviction for no reason.

My current landlord avoided fixing our heating for almost two years despite constant haranguing.

My previous landlord wasn’t a registered landlord and we didn’t sign a contract. When we found out about the cockroach infestation he asked us to speak to the other tenants in the building ourselves to come up with a solution.

My ex-landlord wouldn’t speak to women.

My landlord’s ex-husband let himself in without asking and tried to talk to us about the breakdown of his marriage.

It’s clear that students, as well as many others living in the private rented sector, are often unsatisfied with their homes and receive a poor service from their landlords. We believe that housing co-ops, which are controlled democratically by the tenant members, are a solution to this problem.

In a co-op, the building is either owned by or leased by the co-op, not an individual. Each tenant is a member of the co-op and has an equal say in how decisions are made, meaning that all of the tenants collectively take on the role of the landlord and are responsible for how the co-op is run. This covers everything from how to decorate to ensuring that rent is collected, recruiting new members, organising repairs, solving problems and how best to engage with the local community.

Housing co-ops empower students to make decisions that affect them everyday. Co-ops give students more control to ensure their needs such as access and affordable rent are met. Any surplus collected from rent is put back into the running of the co-op for improvements to the building, community activities and securing new buildings for future expansion. Co-op members learn a wide range of skills from DIY to strategic planning, working together and making important decisions. Living cooperatively can increase the well being of residents and allows then to become part of the community. This is often lacking in student halls and areas with lots of student flats causing tension with non-student residents in the area.


To mark Scottish Housing Day we took part in the Viewfield Lane Festival which was put on by Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team as part of Fresher’s Week. As well as our house, we brought along lots of information about co-ops, some vegan biscuits (house shaped, of course) and held a craft workshop where visitors to our stall could use ribbon and clothes pegs to make a decoration for their bedroom, helping to personalise it for the start of the new term.


The idea behind this craft was to provide a way to display pictures that causes minimal damage to the wall as private landlords often discourage you from using screws, nails, pins or blue tack to display pictures and will keep part of your deposit if they see a mark on the wall when you leave! In most student halls, they are banned completely! This means it can be difficult to make a space feel like your own, particularly if you are going to be living there for a limited time and aren’t keen on magnolia walls.

It was great to see how creative people can be with a few clothes pegs, pens and stickers and we hope that everyone enjoys their new room décor!

We spoke to students, most of whom didn’t know much about co-ops or how they work, but people were enthusiastic and we hope some of them will come along to one of our meetings to find out more.

It’s important to raise awareness of co-ops because even though students may not become involved in Glasgow Student Housing Co-op, there are so many opportunities where co-ops can provide a better alternative to the status quo in housing, work, retail the possibilities are endless so the more people who know about co-ops, the better!

Renting, Venting and Change – Saturday 23rd September 2017

We will also be taking part in another Scottish Housing Day event this Saturday, Renting, Venting and Change which is being put on by Shelter Scotland and Living Rent. We will be talking about how co-ops can be an alternative to renting from the private sector and giving an update on what we have achieved so far.

The event is free to attend. Find out more and register here:

Shelter Scotland- Renting, Venting and Change


Scottish Housing Day 2017

It’s Scottish Housing Day next month and Glasgow Student Housing Co-op will be getting involved. Scottish Housing Day aims to raise public awareness of the latest developments in housing, different options available when deciding where to live and give people easier access to the resources they need to make properly informed housing decisions. One of this years themes is addressing the specific challenges facing younger people in accessing housing and we believe co-ops play an important role.

More information on our Scottish Housing Day plans to follow….we're supporting SHD

Strategic Planning (part 1)

The Hive is a business support programme from Coops UK and The Co-operative Bank, which provides online resources, advice and training for people wanting to start or grow a co-op. We recently applied to The Hive for support with strategic planning and are delighted to announce that our application was successful!

We will now receive four days worth of one-to-one support from an experienced adviser. Our Co-op adviser is Nathan Brown from Co-op Culture who has worked with housing co-ops of all sizes, including a student co-op and has been a member of a housing co-op so has a wealth of experience in this area.

We had a face to face meeting with Nathan at Glasgow Autonomous Space to start working on our strategic plan and identify priority areas to focus on in more detail. Strategic planning is important for the co-op as it provides a sense of direction, outlines goals to work towards that can help to measure our progress and can inform the decisions we make regularly at general meetings.

We will now be focusing on improving our business plan, doing financial projections and improving how we structure the working groups we use to ensure that we get all our required tasks done.

It was great to meet Nathan and hear about his experience of being involved in different co-ops and are looking forward to continuing to work together on our strategic plan.

Read our post about the Governance Training we received from The Hive earlier this year. 




Picnic in the Park

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We had a great day at Radial’s amazing Picnic in the Park today! This was a lovely event and we are really grateful to Radial for inviting us along. It’s always really exciting to see how much enthusiasm folk in Glasgow have for collective, autonomously-run housing. We also got to try out a bread oven and make some jewelry out of wood off cuts – make sure you get to Radial’s future events!

Luckily the weather was good to us- here are some pictures.


Glasgow Co-operatives Meet Up

Today we held our first meet up for co-ops in Glasgow at the wonderful Glasgow Autonomous Space. With the help of Glasgow City Council Co-operative Development Unit and Coops UK, we invited co-ops operating in the Glasgow area to come along for some co-op chat and food (mainly hummus, it seems someone from every co-op brought some).

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Five pots of hummus visible in this picture, several more arrived later.

We had a great time meeting current and former members of Energy4All, Greencity Wholefoods, West Whitlawburn Housing Co-op, Edinburgh Student Housing Co-op, Jangling Space, Four Walls Housing Co-op and The Pallet Co-op. It was very helpful to get advice from people with years of experience as members of, or working with, housing co-ops and worker co-ops as well as share ideas and tips with new co-ops like ourselves.

The meet-up went really well and everyone seemed really positive about it so we hope to make it a regular thing. We think it’s important to build relationships with other co-ops and help each other as this is one of the Co-operative Principles. Co-operation among Co-operatives is the 6th Co-operative Principle and one of the things that makes a co-op, a good co-op. Without the guidance and advice we’re received from other co-ops,

If you’d like to come along next time, keep an eye on here and on our Facebook page for details of future meet-ups and other events.

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Talking Urban at University of Strathclyde

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We were at Strathclyde University urban design department this evening to give a short talk about the development of Glasgow Student Housing Co-op. We discussed how housing co-ops can give students control over their living environment, make a positive contribution to the city, the benefits of collective housing and how we are working in partnership with organisations like Glasgow City Council to make the co-op a reality.

The other speakers were Here + Now and ERZ Studio and it was very interesting to hear them talk about their work.

We hope that students from other universities and colleges in Glasgow, including Strathclyde will become involved in GSHC in the future.

Governance Training and Some Exciting News…

At the beginning of February we submitted an application to the Co-operative Glasgow Business Development Fund which we found out about after meeting with Tracy, the Co-op Development Officer from the Co-operative Development Unit of Glasgow City Council. We applied for funding for some training and our application was successful, so we will be attending two training sessions, one on Governance and one on Financial Management.

Both of these subjects are very important for running a successful co-op and none of us have experience of setting up or running a co-op so we felt this training would be essential and it would be good to do it at this early stage in the project so we are well informed of our responsibilities and have the knowledge we need to ensure the co-op has a strong start.

The training is being provided by The Hive, part of Coops UK that helps co-ops to develop by providing different types of support including training courses, one to one support and peer support.

Today we had Governance training with Emma Laycock from Coops UK. We learned about different types of co-ops and what makes co-ops different from other types of businesses, the co-operative principles and values and the legal forms that co-ops can take. We then moved on to to look at governance and understand how  this is informed by the structure of co-ops and their values and principles. In the afternoon we learned about the different roles within a co-op and how decisions are made. The members of the co-op are responsible for everything from day-to-day tasks to developing strategies to ensure its success and sustainability.

The course was very interesting and informative and Emma did a great job of delivering it by using lots of group work and activities.

One of the highlights of the morning was when David, our business adviser who also attended the training, brought a letter that had been delivered for us to Orkney Street Enterprise Centre. The letter was from the Financial Conduct Authority and confirmed that we are now legally incorporated! We are a real co-op now and so governance training came at the perfect time as we can start practicing good governance straight away! This is really exciting news as it means we can now apply for a bank account and it brings us a step closer to realising our aspirations of having a housing co-op for student in Glasgow. It was nice to be able to open the letter with many of our members there, as well as Tracy and David, who have given us a lot of support with the process so far.

Next week we will complete our second session of training on Financial Management with Patrick Morello, an accountant specialising in co-operatives.


With our letter from the Financial Conduct Authority and the co-op lego.