October 25th, 2016 – news about the ‘workers co-operative’ project.

In the previous news report dated September 20th, there was reference to a special collection made by the parishioners of Our Lady and St Kenelm’s Church, Halesowen, West Midlands and the hope to develop a ‘womens workers co-operative’.

This is now happening and shown below is a copy of the newsletter distributed to parishioners explaining the plan: (please note also the ‘stop press’ notice at the end!)

October 16th, 2016

Dear fellow parishioners,

Kerala Partnership (KP) – Lenten Alms project.

May we apologise for the delay in letting you know about the Lenten alms project; we are happy to confirm that it is now getting started and so want to share the details with you.

You may remember that many of the KP projects are in the district of Neyyattinkara. Here there are 6 ‘pension schemes’ for 60 elderly people (all are ‘below the poverty line’ individuals); a day centre (pakal veedu) for 30 elderly and lonely ladies; 6 ‘chicken and goat’ projects; and 6 other ‘petty businesses’ (self employment schemes). All are fully funded by KP and the contributions from our Parish have contributed to these over those years when Fr Bruce has kindly assigned special collections to the charity.

There is a strong set of volunteers in Neyyattinkara; many are parishioners from the various Churches in the villages where the different schemes are working.

The Lenten Alms project will be in the village of Udencode. 10 women have come forward with an income generating proposal that will have a number of ‘business strands’ but which will be run as a women’s’ workers co-operative.

There will be three strands of activity and the central one will be a readymade dress making centre where everyday and affordable items of clothing will be produced for selling in the local villages and local shops. Attached to this centre will be a stitching and tailoring workshop where some of the 10 women will teach other villagers how to become competent in home-tailoring so that they may be able to become self-employed.

Tailoring is the central strand as two of the 10 women are trained seamstresses and so they and the volunteers have gone out and found a local charitable trust that has agreed to donate 5 old sewing machines and 3 embroidery machines.

The second strand of business will be a workshop for making paper bags and candles to sell again either directly to homes (candles) or to local shops and businesses (the paper bags).

The third strand will be a catering service / kitchen that will cook and sell everyday food items.

The whole initiative has been in planning for some months and this has been one reason for the delay in writing to you all.

The 10 women will undertake all the arrangements, supported by a group of volunteers, for setting up the workshops and kitchens, undergo the training (for bag and candle making), and carrying out the marketing and selling. The income will be shared between the 10 and the enterprise will be run as a business with accounts being kept.

In broad terms the cost to launch the project is £1000. Key costs within this sum are as follows: £100 to repair and service the old tailoring machines; £120 for the equipment and training for candle and bag making; £250 deposit for the workshop space that will have to be rented (this is a fully refundable sum as and when the workshop is vacated); £180 for one year’s rent; £350 for the opening stock of raw materials; £100 for ‘working capital’.

You can see that of the £1000, much of it is ‘one-off’ and the plan of course is for the income to cover the recurring costs of ‘new stocks’ of materials plus provide salary / wages for the 10 women. There is the monthly rent needing to be covered too. We said a few weeks ago that KP will fund £750 if the women and volunteers find a local sponsor to pay the £250 deposit (there is no risk to this) with no interest being expected, as we felt it might be a way of engaging one of the more affluent local families / businesses in this social enterprise!. We understand this has worked and the £250 can be secured locally.

We have also said we will underwrite 12 months’ rent (£15 per month x12 = £180), but we have asked that the Co-Op try to cover the monthly rent at the end of the first 6 months trading. The monthly accounts will be copied to us and the overall aim is to grow the initiative so that more than the initial set of 10 women can benefit.

It seems the ladies are highly motivated and enthusiastic and their goal is to make enough to support their families, as their current circumstances are poor.

It looks to be a great project – well supported by the volunteers and well ‘driven’ by the 10 in these early stages of the plan! It has a plan to work as a co-operative where each person’s skills and strengths will be used to the full.

Your donations have enabled this. Without these Lenten Alms donations the 10 ladies and their families would not have this opportunity to thrive. Thank you.

The Lenten collection was more than £750 but we are holding the balance for a short while in reserve in case of and unforeseen costs, and any final balance will go toward the monthly cost of the 60 pensions.

With best wishes to all,

Jane and David (Clarke)

0121 550 5239


On Saturday, November 12th between 10.00am and 4.00pm there will be a ‘thanksgiving – coffee, cake and craft day’ at our place (36, Greenbush Drive, B633TL) to say thank you to all KP supporters, and where locally made craft items will be on sale. All proceeds to go KP. Just the chance for some Christmas gifts! If anyone makes items at home and would like to display/sell these on the day, please contact Jane on 0121 550 5239 / 07960 718510 to chat about it!


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Chairman D.Clarke 36 Greenbush Drive, West Midlands,B 63 3TL Phone: (0044) (0) 7939 037339 Email : djmbclarke@blueyonder.co.uk

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