Ways you can help your community

Week notes 13 September 2019

Posted on 16 September, 2019

 This week:

  • Co-operate background

  • Week 7 in numbers

  • Bollington events updates

  • Gatsby contribution for everyone 

  • Request for proposal (RFP)

  • Lend a hand – organiser form

  • Community update – Where's Natalie been?

Co-operate background

Stronger communities are at the heart of the Co-op strategy, so we’re going to completely reinvent what commercial, community partnerships should be.

Being a co-op we believe that more co-operation will improve our local communities.

Co-operation is harder than it needs to be, so we're going to make it easier.

The idea is that we build an initial range of tools or features and learn which ones Stretford and Bollington use and which they’re not interested in. These tools need to be as real as we can make them so we can really understand what users do, instead of what they might tell us.

Find out more on our About us page.

Week 7 in numbers

Infographic of all the results for this week.

Every week we report on the statistics of our What's happening website. It helps people find local events and activities that benefit them and their community.

Compared to last week’s update we’ve seen more email sign-ups. This is really encouraging especially as there’s been less of a push on social media.

Our next What's happening email newsletter will be going out around 23 September so watch out for that.

Off the back of launching in Bollington we’ve added another 14 events this week.

We've also crept past the 500 mark for return visitors which shows the continued social media push, email marketing and ongoing engagement with organisers on listing current events, is starting to pay off. 


21 events since last Wednesday live on the site! 

Some of the more interesting events added:

Two event listing images - badger vaccination fundraiser event and What were you thinking? production

Contributing to Gatsby

The Co-operate website is built using an open source framework called Gatsby. We’re big fans of Gatsby and open source software communities are a shining example of cooperation in a digital age. 

This week Fred contributed to the Gatsby project - fixing a bug that was causing us a headache, and now all Gatsby users (including us!) get to benefit. We’ve previously contributed to the framework’s documentation too, and Gatsby even send us free swag for our efforts. It’s nice to co-operate 🙌.

Request for proposal (RFP)

This week we saw 3 digital agencies who responded to our request for proposal (RFP). The ask is for them to help us develop 2 to 3, 12-week alphas to develop the tools: Get stuff, Find a space and Promote.

It’s an exciting time for Co-operate as our ambition is to now test the hypothesis that bringing together a range of tools will make it easier to for communities to make things happen. What’s happening and Lend a hand have been the starting points that will have interconnected journeys around finding space and materials to put on community events. 

We’re reviewing the scores this Friday and we’ll be sharing an update next week on our preferred partner. So watch this space as there will be lots happening between now and Christmas. 

Lend a hand – organiser form

We went live with a minimal usable Lend a hand product this week.

Up until now the Lend a hand service has been participant focused. We’ve been testing the appeal of social volunteering events where a group of people get together to make something good happen where they live.

As a team we sourced the opportunity with Marj at Coppice Library. This is obviously not sustainable. We need people in the community to add their own volunteering opportunities to our website.

So we created a ‘Find volunteers’ call to action component on the Stretford landing page and linked that to a Smartsurvey form capturing details about the organiser and their Lend a hand opportunity.

We’ll be working on the next iteration of this next week. 

  • Creating a Lend a hand landing page for organisers

  • Changing the event details page (for participants) to include more info about the organiser

  • Changing the event listings so that Lend a hand events are recognisably different from ‘normal’ events

Sketches on post it notes of the Lend a hand landing page

Community update – where's Natalie been?

I went to meet Ruth who runs the community group ‘Gorgeous Gorse Hill’ and Caroline who runs Gorse Hill Studios as a registered charity. These ladies both talked a lot about the power of the community and the ripple effect it can have. 

They also believe that Co-operate has come about at a good time for Stretford as its dynamics are changing: “There are a lot of professionals and families moving to the area, and there’s a buzz. Things like Stretford Foodhall and Longford Tap are bringing in new people with different ways of thinking”.

Artwork on brick walls outside the Gorgeous Gorse Hill building

They’re now both using What’s happening to advertise events they’re running, including a really interesting event called ‘Go Gorse Hill’ in October. This is appealing for people with an idea and an interest in getting involved in their community. I'm hoping this will be a great place to find the elusive organiser that will help us shape some of Co-operate’s future products.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the beautiful Victoria Park in Stretford, to meet Shelley who runs the Friends of Victoria Park group. The park is truly the hub of the community. Shelley and her group of volunteers mainly focus their attention on tasks to do with the upkeep of the park and raising funds to bring new equipment and resources to benefit the community.

The park has a whole host of free resources that are most likely not common knowledge like a working sundial and bespoke lesson plan for schools, community herb gardens and other edible crops (including Victoria rhubarb). Plus a trim trail using equipment in the park designed by a personal trainer and the only Petanque green in the North!

Friends of Victoria Park already advertise a number of their events on What’s happening, and with the plans to build their community building on the way, Shelley assures me that there will be plenty more! The group are keen to make links with other organisers and develop a sense a greater sense of community across Stretford.

Images of Victoria Park

Finally, after a busy week of meeting numerous other start up event organisers and colleagues, I paid a visit to Maureen who chairs the Friends of Lostock Park group who, since 2006, have tried to create a space that really meets the needs of their community through involving them every step of the way.

The friends groups' most successful piece of work in the park has been the skate park, which was designed by the young people that use it. There are now fundraisers which are being planned to develop it further by having a pod that can charge your iPods and play music, again a suggestion by one of the young people. Maureen and the volunteers have found that by engaging with their community to create a space they want and need, the park is getting used more and more.

Maureen was particularly interested in Co-operate’s Lend a hand tool as the group struggle to get volunteers to help them with their plans and the upkeep of the park. She intends to use Lend a hand to see if she generates some new volunteers for a bulb planting event they are organising in October. She’s hoping it will help them extend their network.

Images of Lostock park

Not a bad start for a Monday! Now have a great rest of the week.


Posted by Rachael on 16 September, 2019