Ways you can help your community

Week notes 27 March 2020

Posted on 27 March, 2020

This week...has been rather eventful... 

  • Platform pivot  

  • Co-operate support for communities  

  • Launched online events  

  • Launched how to guides  

  • Developing a schedule of online activities  

  • Community response to coronavirus    

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 truly impact a community. 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 page. 

Co-operate pivot  

The NHS volunteering scheme announced on Monday focuses on the 1.5 million people in the high-risk category and focuses on direct 121 matching.  

There are more people that need help, and there are more ways to help than 121 matching. That’s where we come in. With a plethora of information online, we’ll aggregate and distribute this to people to have expressed an interest. Sometimes we’ll match people 121 where it’s relevant. At other times we’ll point them to Co-op schemes, like Food. We’ll highlight local inspiring activity from Member Pioneers. We’ll help them connect to virtual community groups online. We’ll be the one place to go to get and give help during the crisis. 

Adam and Helen shared our thinking in a remote product update you can watch the full presentation back here: 

Support for communities  

There have been two primary blockers to volunteering previously; time and a fear of commitment. The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed these in the short term as people both have excess time to help, and they’re clear that the help is short-term and time-bound.  

In capturing those in communities who want to help at this time of need, we’re building an army of community-spirited people that may continue to help and get involved in communities long after the pandemic fades. Now is the moment that community is in the consciousness of everyone in the country. Now could be the start of a new community movement. 

  • We’re busy beavering away working on launching a service to help communities find our what support is available to them both locally and nationally. Watch this space!  

Launched online events 

We’ve launched a dedicated “Online” category and various ways in which to find online only events and activities. To add an online event we now have a new form as well.  

The online category has a distinct purple colour so that it stands out when viewed amongst offline events and activities and you can clearly view a list of only online events when navigating to the results page via our dedicated online card, which you can see on the “East Leeds” card below. 

When viewing an online event/activity’s details page you will see a “Join online” button vs our standard “Attend” button. This button will launch the associated link attached to the event/activity, which in most cases will be a link to a video call service such as Zoom. 

So far, we’ve got 12 local community online events in these areas:  

  • 3 in Stretford 

  • 9 in Leeds  

So that means based on the 378 online events currently listed in what’s happening 3.1% of communities have made the shift to their events been online and that’s within the first 2 days of us reaching out to organisers.  

Examples of the sort of events and activities that have now moved online include: 

  • Stretford Singers 

  • Uplift Café's Story Time 

  • Woolpack Music Social Club and Woolpack Studios Choir Sing Along,  

  • Spinning Mill Life Class, 

  • Big Draw Event 

  • Online baby massage and Mummy social 

Launched how to guides to support through coronavirus  

We also launched 3 new how to guides to provide support for communities through coronavirus.  

How to set up an online activity 

Currently has the highest unique page views with over 120  

How to attend online events 

How to stay entertained 

This page currently has the highest average page dell time of 3 mins  

Though our first how to guide on ways to help your community is still performing strongly with 1,991 unique page views which accounted for 58% of total unique page views across the site this last week. The page has a dwell time of 2 mins 55 seconds. 

Developing a schedule of online activities  

We know during this time of huge change, it’s important for people to have a routine. With the wealth of skills amongst Co-op colleagues and potentially Member Pioneers, we could pull together a schedule of online activities people can take part in from home. 

Our initial idea is we maybe have a few set slots, maybe: 

  • A morning workout 

  • Lunchtime yoga 

  • Afternoon Story time for Children   

  • Evening knit and natter 

  • And any slots in-between can be filled as an when, by anyone who wants to take one 

Vicky and Catherine have started trying to track down the colleagues with skills they are willing to share. So far we have: 

  • trainee yoga instructors 

  • crochet masters 

  • a cupboard basics chef 

  • a children’s drama instructor  

We’re working out how we promote the live activities and get as many people to follow along as possible, how we can make use of the archive of video this creates, and how to facilitate a great, social online activity. 

We are excited about the opportunity this provides for us to measure Co-operate’s impact on attendees, which is much harder to track through the physical events we usually promote. 

It’s still early days, but we’re hoping to start running sessions in the next week or two. 

Community insights 

In our local communities all of the brilliant activities we had listed on our events pages have had to close due to social distancing measures, a tough blow for groups whose primary aim is to increase social interaction for vulnerable or isolated people. 

We rang and emailed all of these organisers to identify their thoughts and plans for potentially offering their activities as an online version. Many liked the idea but felt that more immediate challenges needed to take priority, some of which were personal and some helping their communities. Those thinking of running something remotely had concerns about how it would work, however; more established organisations like libraries seemed more readily geared up to take on this challenge, potentially adding to existing online provision.

What are organisers are doing?

  • Some organisers have already adapted their events to be Zoom/ Facebook Live/ adhering to social distancing measures 

  • Some are just keeping in touch with their members through What's app groups, Facebook Messenger, Facebook pages and Tik Tok 

  • Some have new priorities- befriending initiatives/ food parcels/ keeping spirits up 

  • Some are thinking about running remotely but have questions or concerns about how it would work 

  • Many have simply postponed their event and haven't thought about adapting 

How are we engaging communities?  

  • Phoning all organisers who had an event live on Co-operate before the crisis to see how and whether they are adapting their events 

  • Sharing the new add an event form and 'How to guides' via social media platforms at a localised level 

  • Sharing information with larger organisations and Councils in Trafford and Leeds 

  • Talking to Member Pioneers in Leeds and national communication 


Posted by Ben on 27 March, 2020