Bringing Co-operation to a new generation - Co-operative Heritage Trust scoops HLF grant to work with young people

Date published: 06 December 2018

The Co-operative Heritage Trust is delighted to announce that it has secured over £47,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, giving the green light to its Young Roots project ‘Up Our Street – Exploring Rochdale’s Co-operative Places'.

This unique project will work with the Co-operative College, based in Manchester, and young people in Rochdale, with the aim of reconnecting them with the rich co-operative heritage unique to their local area and beyond.

Toad Lane, Rochdale. On December 21st 1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society opened their store selling pure food at fair prices and honest weights and measures. The business revolution that started here now involves a billion co-operators as members of 1.4 million co-operative societies across the world
Toad Lane, Rochdale. On 21 December 1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society opened 

The project will be run from Rochdale Pioneers Museum, the site of the birthplace of co-operation, where working class people established the first successful cooperative society in 1844. True co-operative heritage is much richer than just one building however, and it from this starting point that young people will explore other spaces and buildings in the borough as well as in Greater Manchester to uncover hidden co-op stories and share them with others.

Littleborough Co-operative Society Central Offices
Littleborough Co-operative Society Central Offices

The project seeks to help Young People celebrate uniqueness of place, a key part of the Greater Manchester Cultural Strategy, and will focus on improving their lives and opportunities through positive engagement with cultural identity. Through participating in the project, young people will learn new skills, make new friendships and develop the confidence to use their voices to inspire positive change. Using community reporting tools, those involved with the project will be able to share their experiences with others and examine what is important to them about the places they call home.

The project itself comes at a great time of change and investment in the regeneration of Rochdale, with Co-operative identity part of the unique history of the town centre, giving local young people a way to comment not only the impact of the past, but how the lessons from it can be used to shape the future. 

Liz McIvor, Co-operative Heritage Trust Manager, commented: “We at the Trust feel that this project will be instrumental, not only with helping younger residents to understand what co-operation is, but why it is something to be proud of today.

“We want Young People in Rochdale to know how something which started on a small scale in their town not only shaped its future, but affected the way lives were lived in villages, towns and cities across the country and the world.

“We believe that doing this will help participants take pride in their town’s heritage and celebrate how ordinary people have always taken risks and worked for what was right for the wider community.

“We believe that this is something which will inspire a younger generation to do the same , making their world a better, fairer place and proving that engaging with local heritage can have real meaning and power.”

The project will begin to recruit participants and a co-ordinator in early 2019, culminating with the production of resources which can be used across the borough. There will also be celebration events at the end of the project year. At the start, the Trust would encourage as many young people from different parts of Rochdale to come together to be involved, to provide a voice for their community and work together to help spread the word.

Liz McIvor said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for young people to get involved as part of the project and can help with funding transport as well as essential equipment which might be needed to take part.

“Anyone wanting more information about how to be involved, or how to volunteer to help as well as involve any youth groups they may work with should contact the Trust Manager in the first instance via Rochdale Pioneers Museum. Look out for messages on social media from us as well as information sent to schools, colleges and youth hubs.”

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