Cambridge workers' co-operative Daily Bread celebrates 25 years

by Stephen Hewitt | Published 1 Oct 2017 | Last updated 11 Oct 2017

A fair celebrating its 25th birthday at Cambridge workers' co-operative Daily Bread, 30 September 2017
30 September 2017: Cambridge workers' co-operative Daily Bread holds a fair to celebrate its 25th birthday outside its shop in King's Hedges

On Saturday 30 September 2017 the Cambridge workers co-operative Daily Bread marked its 25th birthday by holding a fair outside the shop in Kilmaine Close, King's Hedges, CB4 2PH. The mayor of Cambridge, George Pippas, cut the birthday cake.

The fair included speeches, live music and stalls from two dozen diverse organisations ranging from Borakis Greek Food to refugee charity CamCRAG.

Daily Bread founder speaks

Cambridge Daily Bread founder Andrew Hibbert speaks on 30 September 2017 at a celebration of 25 years of the workers' co-op
Cambridge Daily Bread founder Andrew Hibbert speaks on 30 September 2017 at a celebration of 25 years of the workers' co-operative

The founder of Daily Bread in Cambridge, Andrew Hibbert, gave the first speech, explaining the reasoning and motivation that gave birth to this Cambridge co-operative.

In the 1980s he said, he was in a Anglican theological college. This was not a good time. He was not interested in how many angels could stand on the head of a pin, but he did worry about ethics, the ordination of women, the organisation of work and what to do about unemployment.

In that era, he said, we were being "preached to" by the government of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, while they put in place the changes that lead "slowly but surely to the problems that we have today".

He said - more than once - that he didn't believe that bosses needed to be motivated by rewards while workers needed to be motivated with whips. He said that he became convinced that common ownership was a fundamental Christian principle and referred to what the disciples did after Pentecost.

This thinking initially lead him to the Daily Bread co-operative at Northampton where he was manager for five years.

Daily Bread in Cambridge took two years to set up and he found people to help - Pat Bernard, William McVey and Jen Holmwood.

Set up was complete by 1 October 1992 and the doors opened on 1 December 1992, an event attended by the Bishop of Ely and Cambridge MP Anne Campbell. The shop's takings on that first day were £100.

Daily Bread was to be a beacon. It's about changing the structure of how you organise work, he said.

“It turned my life around” says member

The next speech was by Lyn, who has now been working at Daily Bread for 15 years. She related that before she came to work for Daily Bread she had suffered a tragedy, the sudden death of her husband while they had been planning retirement. She said that within two months of his death she was admitted to a a mental hospital where she spent seven weeks. She had "no motivation, no sense of purpose" and life was like a nightmare, "my life was like a big empty void".

This changed after she came to work at Daily Bread. She was encouraged to "do things I never thought I was capable of" and has been the company secretary. "I do love coming in" she said. "Daily Bread has been a godsend. It turned my life around".