We’ve made it our mission over the last year to learn what stops communities from coming together. We do this because we’re owned by our members and this is one of the things they care about.
Talking to volunteers, organisers, charities, social entrepreneurs and those who just want to get involved but don’t know how, we’ve been constantly amazed by the spirit of goodwill.
There’s no shortage of people who want to help, and no shortage of organisations and groups desperate for that help.
What’s stopping them is simple. There are tools out there but they’re often hard to find, hard to use and don’t connect to each other.
Starting small in Stretford
It’s important we don’t assume what communities across the UK need, so we’re building Co-operate, co-operatively. Others have failed in doing this by creating national, one size fits all products with no physical presence in the community.
Right now the team are working with the people of Stretford in Manchester to shape what the product might be for their particular community.
The first tool we’re looking at helps people find out what’s happening in Stretford. To build this the team gathered events and activities from Stretford’s community notice boards, which are normally hard to find and poorly maintained. But when brought together, show a diverse range of opportunities.
With a couple of taps people can see events and activities that benefit them, and their community. An easy way to start co-operating.
But Co-operate isn’t just a website or app. It’s a platform, and the useful content and tools can be used in other ways. We can connect Co-operate to digital screens in Stretford Mall, again making it easier for the community to co-operate.
What Co-operate could be
This is only the start. We’re learning and iterating just as we would with any digital product.
Our next tool will make it easier for potential volunteers to connect with groups that need help. We’ve learnt that organisers struggle to find and manage volunteers, and potential volunteers want to help but are time-poor and don’t want to over commit. We’re currently testing our first designs of this in Stretford.From what we’ve already heard, we can see a world where Co-operate grows to include tools that help people:
- start their own local groups and find others to team up with
- find a community space that’s available when they need it
- club together financially to reach a goal with more ease
- come together and campaign to take a stand on something they’re passionate about
Co-operate has the potential to transform communities. Our vision is that it becomes the one place to go to make things happen.
Take a look at our early version of Co-operate at coop.co.uk/co-operate.
And If you’d like to co-operate with us, email
Chief Membership Officer