Blog article

#CoopFortnight - Reviving derelict buildings to bring hope to communities

Nudge Community Builders in Plymouth will be flying the flag for Co-op Fortnight, leading a group of volunteers to mend and clean a much loved community space at Union Corner in Stonehouse.

It's a vital resource for the 49 local groups who host activities there such as crafts, tai chi, wellbeing activities, gardening clubs, soup kitchens and support groups, attended by 1,300 people over the last two years.

A derelict shop for 25 years, Union Corner was restored and made into a community space after a crowdfunfing campaign and investment from the local council. It's managed by Nudge Community Builders, led by Wendy Hart and Hannah Sloggett who both gave up their jobs in 2017 to set up the organisation for the benefit of the local community. A community share offer saw them raise over £200,000 with 165 local people investing money to support their work and to have a say in how the organisation is run – only the second organisation in Plymouth to do so.

Wendy says, “Our area had a lot of derelict buildings and this can bring people down. Transforming them into community spaces with the help of volunteers has brought so much life back into Stonehouse. We knew that if we didn’t do something we’d be watching someone else doing it, and I was very proud when recently our local GP said that we’d brought hope to a lot of people that things can change.”

On Saturday 29 June, they’ll also be working with Food Plymouth to organise a take-over event in another Nudge-run venue, The Clipper, which will feature local food retailers and growing projects. They’ll be running a stall about co-operative working and will have information about the upcoming volunteering days at Union Corner. 

The Clipper is another hive of regular community activity, with a local monthly market where people bring products along to sell – where artists, businesses, charities and community groups come together. To encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs, Nudge have started a scheme where they give young people suitcases and a £25 grant to buy and sell on products at the market.

Wendy is keen to get as many people as possible together for their planned Co-opertive Fortnight events. “We’d love to have crowd of people join us on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 July to roll up their sleeves and give Union Corner a new lease of life,” she said. “It’s used so much by so many members of the community that it’s starting to need a bit of TLC, and we want everyone who uses it to have a great experience, whatever their background. We’ve organised this over two days so that local businesses can join in as part of team building activities on the Friday.”

She adds, “It’s increasingly important for people to come together to take action and Co-op Fortnight is a chance to shine a spotlight on what can be achieved when we co-operate.”

Find out more about Nudge Community Builders at https://nudge.community

Written by Wendy Carter
Updated: 11/06/2019