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I’ve been a Co-op Member Pioneer for Stocksbridge and Oughtibridge for little over a year now. It’s been an ideal role for me - everything is based around supporting the community. There’s a real focus on helping local residents and causes.  

Recently, like many areas in the UK, the biggest challenge for our community has been the pandemic. Much of my work has been supporting and helping where I can with this issue. 

Since starting the role, I've been able to help make a difference straight away. From working to establish a local community forum, to supporting causes and not-for-profit groups through local connections, knowledge, donations and funding. 

Local Hero Competition 

As part of Mental Wellbeing Week, the Oughtibridge Co-op store ran a local hero competition. Residents could nominate groups or individuals who had made a significant contribution to supporting the community, particularly during the pandemic. Many of the nominees helped residents with basic living needs and offered wellbeing support during this time. The nominees included a group who delivered lunch to elderly residents, and an individual who built booths in care homes so family members could visit safely.  

I worked to promote the competition through social media, posters and my local community forum. I also had the lovely job of managing nominations. As part of the competition, we were able to raise a substantial amount of funds for Co-op’s charity partner Mind, who work alongside SAMH and Inspire. They do brilliant work to support mental wellbeing.  

It was a huge success, we received so many worthy nominations! It was a great way to celebrate all the work of these groups and individuals. I had the honour of presenting the certificate and prize to the winners, HOWWL (Helping Oughtibridge, Worall, Wharncliffe and Wadsley Park Locals). They worked incredibly hard to set up a food bank during lockdown to support families in need. Alongside this, they ran a prescription delivery service for those self-isolating. 

A community that cares 

The impact on the local community, and further afield, was that it gave residents the opportunity to express their gratitude to those that helped support them during the pandemic. 

It’s great to see that HOWWL have now become one of Co-op’s Local Causes and will receive the Local Community Fund to help with their future efforts. It’s this element of my role which is so important - identifying groups that make a positive impact and providing them with the support they need to continue their brilliant work.  

Alex Archer, 
Member Pioneer