Co-operative values and the strength of community through the pandemic

Claire White blog
Claire White
Monitoring & Evaluation Officer – Communities Creating Homes, Wales Co-operative Centre

A year after the country was first plunged into lockdown to protect people and public services from the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Communities Creating Homes - the Wales hub for Community-Led Housing (CLH) - will be publishing research into how CLH residents have endured and survived the pandemic. 

In Autumn 2019, we published an initial piece of research ‘Assessing the benefits of living in Co-operative and/or Community Led Housing (opens new window)’ which put into words what we felt we already knew. Residents living in this type of housing do experience a large range of benefits from living in their schemes including a greater feeling of community and less feelings of loneliness and isolation. Since the first lockdown, the negative impacts of the restrictions including a decline in mental wellbeing and an increase in people feeling isolated have been widely reported and remain a concern.

At Communities Creating Homes, we were interested in understanding the experiences of people living in CLH schemes during the lockdown and how much of their experience could be attributed to their co-operative and community roots.  We knew this would complement and build upon the first piece of research so we commissioned The Social Effectiveness Research Centre to ask these important questions. The picture that has been captured was a positive one telling us that many people living in CLH felt more supported and less isolated than they may have done in other types of housing.

During the pandemic, we have all seen media reports about community members who have galvanised themselves and perhaps we have ourselves been involved in activities supporting those who are vulnerable and less able. As a CLH hub, we have been impressed by how our clients have displayed co-operative values and helped their wider community. For example, Machynlleth Housing Co-operative played an active role in a town wide effort to support others through the difficult times. Leaflets were delivered, social media groups and a website were launched so people knew who to reach out to for help and there was a wellbeing group delivering virtual yoga and other online activities.

The positive impacts that residents taking part in the research attributed to living in CLH as opposed to if they lived in other types of housing reflected these co-operative and community values and included:

  • Reduced isolation and loneliness
  • Greater financial security
  • Better physical living conditions (e.g., more outside space)
  • Reduced psychological/mental distress
  • Closer links to the wider community
  • Greater practical support (e.g. day to day tasks, shopping, etc…)

In the words of one CLH resident:

“I feel very fortunate to have been here for the lockdown as I have felt protected and supported, otherwise I would have been entirely on my own.  The support has been physical and psychological, and I have space to move around in.  We have experience in respecting each other’s wishes, which helped with social distancing.  These things are, I believe, unique to cohousing.”

If you would like an invite to the launch event on 30 March 2021 and/or a link to the published research, please let Communities Creating Homes know by emailing

And to access a range of other useful resources and examples of practice on a variety of community-led approaches to housing, visit the Housing LIN’s dedicated co-housing webpage.


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