UP CLOSE: Macclesfield Co-op Member Pioneer Louise Little

At Macclesfield Nub News, we support our community’s businesses, charities, clubs, shops and sports groups.

We are especially close with the Co-op, who also love to support their local community in a similar way. This community outreach is conducted by Member Pioneers, and we caught up with Louise Little, who is one of the Member Pioneers for the Macclesfield area.

Louise has been in the role since October 2020 and has overcome challenges in helping community projects during the pandemic.

A Member Pioneer is employed by the Co-op, the main part of the role is working with the local community, bringing different local community projects and local organisations together.

"We are a kind of catalyst for projects and people working together and that kind of connecting of different organisations," said Louise.

"And it isn’t for the Co-op just about the money I have been so impressed by that. It isn’t just about giving all these different organisations funding.

"It has been amazing to see if one of our Local Causes has a raffle or needs a prize for something. The Co-op will step in and give that. They want to help in other ways, and I find that really impressive.

"It has been a very tricky year since I have taken on the role in October 2020. Since COVID, the role has changed. There haven’t been as many face-to-face planned events, but a lot of things have been happening online."

Most Member Pioneers work with just one area - but Louise covers two areas across Macclesfield. She works with six local causes, four Co-op stores and one Co-op funeral home.

Those Local Causes are the environmental charity Macctastic, East Cheshire Hospice, Upton Priory Scouts, youth charity Cre8, Friends of Macclesfield Academy, and dance group Cygnets.

On top of all this, Louise still found time to help a then-unaffiliated charity that approached her in the midst of the third lockdown.

"At Easter, Pure Insight, a charity who helps children leaving foster care in the local area, asked if there was a way we could help," Louise added.

"They help are 18-year olds who are having to start their adult life on their own, isolated, especially with COVID you know there’s quite a lot of significant mental health issues and a lot of barriers they are facing.

"So, we got some funding from the Co-op in order to do some Easter hampers for these young people, with Easter Eggs and lots of chocolates and goodies.

"So, at the Thornton Square Co-op store, I packed all the lovely goodie bags and we had 50 beautiful bags to give to the teenagers.

"Pure Insight is an amazing charity that works in East Cheshire and Manchester that looks after young people who are really vulnerable, to provide that befriending support and education and opportunity support to young people in really difficult situations, and we gave them a treat for Easter that really cheered them all up. They were all delighted."

Louise listens to the local community and assesses Macclesfield's Co-op Community Wellbeing Index to help decide what her resources should help next.

The Macclesfield mum will celebrate her one-year anniversary as a Member Pioneer in three months. She first moved to our town two-and-a-half years ago and loves how chatty and community-driven Macclesfield people are.

Her good friend Charlotte Percy, who is Member Pioneer for Prestbury and Bollington, told her about the role.

"To make a great Member Pioneer, you have to be very organised," Louise also said.

"You have to be really friendly, confident, and interested in your local community. Being a good listener is crucial too, because it is easy for me to say what I think my community needs but listening to my local organisations and colleagues in store on what they think needs to be done is actually more important.

"I’m embarrassed to say I was never even a member of the Co-op before I became a Member Pioneer, I didn’t really understand how it worked.

"But now I sing the praises to everybody and it is very genuine because I do think it is a good deal for you and your local community.

"It costs £1 to be a member but you make that back almost instantly, and the deals you get are really quite exciting. And one thing I love is that it was also £1 in 1844 when the Co-op started to be a member, that was a lot more money then.

"You simply have to pay something to have a share in the Co-op, it is so easy to sign up online. And the app you get is so easy to use and pick your local cause."

You can contact Louise at [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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