In Stockport, Greater Manchester, community organisers are harnessing the power of social enterprise to bring organising to the area.
The Windmill looks, from the outside, just like any other modern coffee shop, but its history is quite remarkable. In 1819, a group named the Stockport Radical Union for the Promotion of Human Happiness gathered at the spot where the coffee shop now sits, to march to St Peter’s Fields in Manchester and demand the vote, at a time when only men who owned land could engage in the formal democratic process.
Today, almost 200 years later, things have changed significantly, with universal suffrage now granted to adults across the country, regardless of background, status or gender. But considering the national voter turnout for the last general election was just over two-thirds, and Stockport’s turnout was just under two-thirds, this highlights a sizable chunk of people who either don’t feel that formal democracy is working for them, or are pursuing alternative ways to engage, meaning the work of those who gathered at the site of The Windmill in 1819 is far from over yet.
The Windmill coffee shop is continuing this legacy of people power and challenging business as usual in its mission as a social enterprise. What its customers may not know when they go in to buy a latte, is that the profit made from their purchase is going towards funding a role designed to challenge existing power and support the community to create lasting change in Stockport.
Greater Manchester’s member organiser Nicola, from Social Action Hub Starting Point, explains the reasoning behind funding community organising with coffee: