UP CLOSE: Co-op Member Pioneer Amy Collier

Barry Nub News aims to support our community, promoting shops, businesses, charities, clubs and sports groups.

We will be profiling some of these businesses and organisations regularly in a feature called ‘Up Close in Barry'.

We caught up with Amy Collier, the Co-op Member Pioneer for Barry.

Co-op’s Member Pioneers bring together its Members, colleagues and Local Causes to help its communities.

For Amy Collier, it was these community connections that brought her to the role. Having moved from London to Barry, she was looking for ways to get involved with the town.

“We moved because we wanted to be somewhere by the sea and with a sense of community. Barry just was the ideal place for my family,” said Amy.

“I had some experience with charities, fundraising and volunteering, so when I found the Member Pioneer role with the Co-op, it felt like the right path for me.

“Through my work and volunteering, I had a good understanding of how much of a challenge charity work can be, and wanted to help, even if it just meant meeting up and talking with people.

“It was a great way to settle in and get involved.”

After taking on the role during lockdown, Amy has worked hard to support local causes and organisations.

She described the Member Pioneer role as someone who acts as a communicator, a catalyst, and a connector.

“We get out into the community, find all of the local causes who are doing amazing things and link them with whoever it is they need linking with,” explained Amy.

“We’re also spreading the word about these causes and organisations, to support them.

“The good thing about the Member Pioneer role is that we're the link between the local groups and things that they need doing or need help with. For example, if I know that a charity needs donations, or help with an event, I’ll go out and find out how to get it to them.”

One community organisation Amy has been working closely with is Cwtch-Up, an independent food bank that began in Cardiff but has recently expanded to Barry and Caerphilly.

“They do really amazing work at Cwtch-Up, but because of the limitations they’re finding it really hard to reach their full potential,” said Amy.

“Currently they’re really struggling to find a base to run out of. They’re delivering food to people in need almost every day, so the right facilities are crucial.

“It doesn’t need to be huge, but it needs to be a decent space, as they’d like to run workshops in the future. So, I’ve been helping them find a base.”

Amy has also connected with Castleland Community Centre and Community Interest Companies at The GoodSheds, which are social enterprises that put their profits back into the town.

“There is a community feeling in Barry, even though it’s a big place,” said Amy.

“Using the Co-op Community Wellbeing Index, which measures well-being factors of towns across the UK, Barry scores quite high in many of the categories such as health, education, and having a voice.

“But what stands out is the feeling of relationships and trust is low in our town. My gut instinct is that comes down to loneliness, perhaps through lockdown.”

A useful resource that can connect people in Barry is Co-operate, which is making good things happen in our community.

“Co-operate is amazing, so we need more people to know about it,” said Amy. “It has the potential to be really useful and helpful to the community, and our local causes. It’s a bit like a community noticeboard but on a large scale.

“Organisations and groups can register on the site, share information about themselves and also appeal for things they need, whether it’s donations or volunteers.

“Then they can also share any upcoming events, and then local people can go on, enter their postcode and find out what’s happening in the area.”

Amy said having the vision and drive to help those in the communities was the key to success in the Member Pioneer role.

“A good Member Pioneer is someone who cares,” she said. “You’ve got to communicate well, have passion, and be willing to find something and run with it.”

To find out more about your member pioneer, the Co-op and local causes in the area, contact Amy via [email protected]

If you've got any ideas on how Co-op could help your community, or want to know what Co-op is doing near you then contact the Co-op Member Pioneer Co-ordinator for your area, who will then put you in touch with your local Member Pioneer.

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