Catfish Housing Co-operative LTD is a Housing Co-operative based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. At present we have a membership group of 12 people, plus 3 children, various cats, 1 dog, 2 gerbils… We have all known each other for many years – some of us having lived together before in larger co-op – and have considerable knowledge of running and maintaining property. We also have over 60 years of co-op living between us and are more than willing to share our experience (or lack of it!) with others.
Our aim is to provide secure, affordable and decent housing in the form of separate units within geographical areas identified by our membership .
In April 2018 we finally managed to buy our first property at 69 Reed Street Marsh, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire – 4 years after we held our first meeting and registered as a Co-operative! This was a huge moment for many of us, both personally and in the short history of Catfish – it’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road to Reed Street. We have all learnt a huge amount along the way and the simple (or rather, not so simple) act of buying a property as a housing co-op, took many of us by surprise.
As a result a huge amount of learning has been gained and shared throughout our membership, knowledge that we as a Co-operative now use to help others looking to set up their own co-op. We do this through educational workshops held at a network of festivals in the UK, including Shambala and The Green Gathering.
We have designed our Co-operative’s structure with guidance from Radical Routes’ aims and principles. It is run via a democratic approach, which uses all our skills collectively, and through a process of consensus decision-making. We share knowledge and ideas we are gaining with all our members on an equal basis, as well as networking with other people and co-ops. We follow the seven Co-operative principles (we have them posted up on the kitchen wall as a reminder!) and operate as a non-hierarchical structure, encouraging all to participate as much as they can.
The basic ideology is simple – to return property to the Common Wealth and away from the hands of speculators, to refurbish and maintain properties in as a sustainable manner as possible, and to create a supportive and secure environment for our members.
Next plan – buy another property – we haven’t housed everybody yet!…