Ways you can help your community

Week notes 30 August 2019

Posted on 30 August, 2019

I reckon we all learnt a new word this week, although I’m not sure ‘prorogue’ is a particularly useful addition to my vocabulary. Anyways, here’s our weeknotes.

This week we...

  • saw week 5 of results and they’re still climbing 

  • started to improve how we organise our insights

  • got clearer on what to build to make it easier to organise ‘Lend a hand’ events

  • met with Stretford Uke Club, The Sip Club and Ashton-on-Mersey In Bloom

  • talked to a Community Interest Company aiming to improve Trafford’s wellbeing


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

And 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 / features and learn which ones Stretford use and which ones 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.

Results - week 5  🎉

Guess what!!

Last week we launched an ad on facebook to promote our Lend a Hand event and it was the most engaged-with ad out of all Co-op ads running that week with the highest engagement rate! Looks like showing reality (in this case an overgrown patch of land outside of Coppice Library) and hyperlocal messaging really works 👍

Organising our insights

 This week we started work on setting up a knowledge base. There's been lots of research and insights we've gathered since the start of the project and we've not put it all in an easily accessible format. So we ran an initial IA card sort exercise to agree on how we'd structure a Trello board to be a knowledge base hub so we can link off to relevant research and insights we've captured this far. This was a really effective activity. As it helped us to all agree on what our initial categories would be and then using real examples of recent research / insights we’ve been working as a test to establish which category it would be assigned to.

Thanks to Dave Cunningham for his support on this. Will share progress once we've populated it. This should make it easier when on-boarding new starters as well.

Next steps now we’ve mapped the initial set of categories and research to the Trello board is to start populating it with the examples. We’ve then got a bi-weekly research insights check-in session where we can review what new insights have been added to the knowledge base.

Lend a hand event

Anne and I went to the ‘Lend a hand’ event that we promoted to get ‘experiential wisdom’ (get me!) of grass roots, social volunteering.

We met other volunteers and helped clear the weedy area, ready for the planting of wildflower seeds next weekend.

Before: ugly weeds
Lending a hand
After: seed ready

Our promotional activity tests led to 9 people pledging to attend, 3 of those turned up, and another gentleman came on the day having seen our Facebook ad. Drop-outs should be expected, and a 30% drop-out rate is normal for this type of thing. 

As it turned out, the organiser, Marj, didn’t really need our help to recruit volunteers as she has a strong network, which meant she found 5 volunteers herself. A network that has taken a long time to build. But what if somebody without a strong network wanted to do something like this? Hmm...

We have gathered all the pain-points we have seen and mapped them to our user journey wall, from this we have started mapping out how Co-operate could help:

Pain points = opportunities

Where’s Natalie been?

I can see this becoming a regular feature in our weeknotes. As Natalie is on a mission to meet organisers of community groups to share what we’re doing, see whether Co-operate can help them and gather insights that can shape our future developments. 

This week she’s drawn on her inner George Formby and joined the Stretford Uke Club; held at The Sip Club in Stretford. Had insights into the time and dedication it takes to run a grassroots community group and how they got it off the ground.

They currently advertise their group through ‘What’s happening’ and are hoping that it will generate more diverse interest in their group as they don’t want their group to be a “group of ageing regulars”. 

They are also keen to promote the use of The Sip Club as a venue to other groups due to the resources that they have access to for free! Which led onto a really insightful conversation with the owner of The Sip Club, Heather Garlick, about Stretford community and the extensive network that she has and some of the events she is organising.

Also spoke to Robbie from Ashton on Mersey In Bloom to understand how she is bringing the community together to create a more age friendly village through the use of benches. She thinks that Co-operate is fantastic idea and talked about how our planned products sounded as if they were helping to drive people’s confidence to get their community together.

She mentioned how they could help with making resources that they have available to help other groups - for example surrounding the Coppice Library lend a hand event - “We have spare seeds, and we will have spare bulbs that we could donate. Or if they need refreshments we would  be happy to donate tea bags and coffee to fuel the volunteers”. 

She also talked about skills - the Ashton on Mersey in Bloom group has a network of people who know about plants and gardening who could offer advice.

A nice sit down

Who knows where she’ll pop up next week…

Who did Anne meet?

Anne met Stuart at Bluesci, a community interest company whose focus is improving mental wellbeing across Trafford. Their name reflects their aims as it is Blue’sci’ (not sky) and stands for social and cultural inclusion. Not sure why it’s blue though?

Operating out of Council owned properties that were potentially facing closure, they manage four sites that deliver wellbeing activities by local groups and organisations. They make sure that the services and activities are really focussed on the specific local needs. For example the Coppice library in Sale.

Anne showed him what we’ve made and whilst he liked the look of it felt that there was currently enough directories in Trafford providing events info. In his experience tools like What’s happening are mainly used by staff and volunteers within organisations to try to engage their service users to access activities, but may need support to do so. 

He also felt that only people who were already active would respond to Lend a Hand initiatives. Hopefully, we can change that.

However, he did feel there was huge potential for a resource to help new organisers get started. There are resources out there but they are aimed at structured organisational development (ie registered charities, CIC’s, social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations) and could be far too detailed and over-facing for individual members of a community to use. That’s encouraging.

I think I’ll prorogue these weeknotes for now. Have a wonderful two day recess.


Posted by Ben on 30 August, 2019