I’m Stephen, a Co-op Engagement Advisor (CEA) covering the most northerly part of the British Isles. Part of our role is to support Member Pioneers and local causes, which allows me to see firsthand the difference our members’ 1% makes to local causes in our most remote communities.
That’s why I always encourage everyone I meet to go online and choose the local cause that matters most to them.
Recently I travelled to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to visit some local causes who were part of our very first round of funding.
The Stornoway MacAulay Road food store is among the largest of our Co-ops in the UK and serves the combined wider populations of Lewis & Harris as well as the local residents of the town.
My first visit was to Catch 23 (managed by Del Gunn), part of an initiative by the Western Isles Association for Mental Health. Together with the help of eager volunteers and session workers the Catch 23 drop-in centre had over 5,500 visits last year and supported over 200 individuals.
Based in a converted town house, the project offers a safe space to visit as well as creative writing classes, arts classes and gardening sessions. The kettle is always on and there’s always some hot food available at no cost to service users.
Del couldn’t be more grateful to Co-op members for the huge help and support shown towards the project. He said:
“We were astounded by the help we’ve received from the Local Community Fund. It’s helped us put on art sessions and provide over 4,500 healthy meals, as well as pay the rent. I’d like to thank Co-op members and all the Co-op colleagues in Stornoway and beyond for the incredible support and encouragement they’ve shown towards us.”
Second stop was to meet Chrisetta Mitchell at the Leanne Fund, which provides special treats/experiences and a range of support services to young people suffering from Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and their families in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland.
“Moving away to college/university or setting up home for the first time can be really exciting but it can also be extremely stressful for someone with Cystic Fibrosis,” explained Chrisetta. “The money from the Local Community Fund has meant we’ve been able to buy new fridges for storing medicines and food, bedding, travel costs and funding for mentor/befriending training. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the Co-op.”
What an inspirational day.
Remember, if you know a cause that could benefit from our Local Community Fund there’s still time for them to apply.
Co-op Engagement Advisor