Like any volunteer run entity, Stirchley Stores always needs more members. People join something like Stirchley Stores for all manner of reasons. Some of them are obvious – they agree with the aims of the shop want it to succeed – but some are more more personal, quirky and even selfish. For example, I work from home and often need an excuse to get out and talk to people, so a shift in the shop is a social lifeline that’s worth way more to me than the 10% discount. And on a more mercenary level, my photography teaching business can only be helped by my engaging with the community around the shop.
If my extra reasons are unique to me, I wondered what other reasons people might have, so I asked on the email list for people to tell me. And tell me they did!
If, on reading these, you’d like to volunteer at Stirchley Stores, either on the till or behind the scenes doing admin or marketing, contact Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I volunteer and on average do 8 hours a month in the shop as I want to be part of the community. I love chatting to people, and I get to chat to fellow volunteers but also the general customers. There is always a friendly feeling in the stores. This is created by us the volunteers and the gorgeous bread smell but also the whole ethos of a true co-op.
It is also nice to be there when someone buys my preserves and I can talk to them (whether they like it or not) about where I sourced the ingredients or the history behind the recipes! The personal touch when selling my artisan preserves is priceless to me, but also to continued sales.
- Rachel Carter
I volunteer in the shop as I like serving and chatting to the people that come into the shop. It is also good to be part of a team helping people to have local grown produce and I don’t mind giving up a couple of hours to volunteer when I can to help the shop run smoothly.
– Claire Peet
I started volunteering because I quit my 60 hours a week career to live and work more ethically. I first came to a meeting in the beer garden at the British Oak and volunteered to help recruit Emma, and after that it was a whirlwind roller coaster ride! I love the variety that being a member of the coop brings, and the fact that everything I do is new to me and you have to react quickly to your mistakes! I now have a fascination with cooperatives and how they work.
- Cat Frazer
My children have left home and the need for me to be around for them has diminished (not as bad as it sounds; university and employment beckoned!)
I was conscious of being stuck in a routine: work-home-dinner-tv-bed.
I love the idea of having a proper baker in my area so I wanted to support it.
I am quite shy so I wanted to try and be more public facing.
The idea of benefiting from cheap ingredients through my efforts appealed.
Finally, to quote Cheers, its nice to go where everyone knows your name – even though I can’t remember those of most I meet.
Because I have been a very happy member of Stirchley community for over 10 years, my children have grown up here and I wanted to get more actively involved in what goes on. I love playing on the till (very different from my day job), and it is a great opportunity for me to meet local people living around me, and eating great bread.
- Jess Allan
I work at the shop because I want it to exist.
- Rob Gilbert
I believe in the ethos of co-operatives; having recently been made redundant I am looking to spend some time doing something that feels worthwhile and come into contact with like-minded people. Also as a Stirchley resident I am really happy to see something new on the poor old High St! Especially when it’s not Tesco and sells such delicious bread.
I think there are quite a few reasons why I volunteer. A couple of the main ones are that it’s something useful and worthwhile to do with my time, which I’d probably otherwise spend farting about doing nothing of value.
And i do it because it’s fun.
- Neil Holland
I’ve volunteered for one thing or another all my life I suppose, especially after I started to work freelance. I’m now retired, and in theory have more time to get involved in local community ventures. I’m very much involved with some local environmental organisations, so I am determined not to put my head much above the parapet at the Stirchley Stores. But it’s a delight to support such a good ethically-based community venture, to see people enjoying their shopping and to share the encouragement of such awareness with like-minded people. Working the till is probably good for my brain too!
- Amanda Cadman
I volunteered to be a member and help in the shop because the idea of Co-operation is such a brilliant one that still follows the values of the founders. One of the values is to work with other co-ops so this gives me a chance to do that. I also like doing something useful for the community.
- Linda Chew
I started to volunteer because I wanted to be a participant in a wholefood buying co-op – having run a couple over the years, I was keen to get involved. I had not reckoned on getting so interested in the “let’s regenerate the high street” side of things – I don’t live in Stirchley after all. However, the more shifts I do, I am really enjoying that side of the shop – the encouraging of community spirit, the “local-ness” of it all. I enjoy meeting all the people – fellow co-op members, bakers and customers. I really enjoy my shifts -only sorry that I am not able to make the evening meetings to get to know every one a bit better.
- Louis Murray
We hold a bread bond with Tom Baker as we have always believed in his business. The connection with the food co-op was therefore an obvious one. I am recently retired and when the shop first opened I was a very regular volunteer as I had the time ( Less now as I have been given some part-time teaching )
Reasons? I hope the store succeeds, I want to support young people in their endeavors, we need an alternative to the monopoly of the supermarkets. It’s good fun working in a shop, never thought I could work a till! I like meeting the shoppers and chatting. I enjoyed cleaning the shop ( although not so keen on cleaning my own house on my own?! )
- Lucy Sobrero
My reasons for volunteering have changed as the food co-op / Stirchley Stores has evolved. I started volunteering when it was a buying group because I wanted access to cheap food without having to rely upon supermarkets. More and more people joined the buying group and we eventually reached saturation, there was simply nowhere to store the food that was being ordered each month! So we took up Tom’s offer of a shop/bakery team and started plotting for Stirchley Stores – and I put time in here because it seemed silly to be turning people away from our buying group and I wanted a way for more people to get good, low cost, ethical food. Doing the funding applications, business plans etc in the early baby stages of Stirchley Stores (which had the working name ‘Loaf and Larder’ then) meant that I learnt sooooo much about starting up a co-operative ‘business’ – things I would have never learnt otherwise.
All of this really paid off when I had an interview for my first job post-university as a teacher. I could show off in the interview about all the funding we secured for Stirchley Stores – although this alone didn’t secure the job, being able to brag like that gave me a lot of confidence in the interview. So interview-wise it’s a nice ‘hobby’ to have up the sleeve.
After working abroad for a bit, I came back to find Stirchley Stores about 1000% better than I left it – with over a hundred members and a real, proper, fully functioning (almost) shop! So now I volunteer because I like to serve customers in the shop and think ‘I cannot believe this is actually working’ .
- Lucy Whalley
I enjoy volunteering because I have struggled in employment in recent times due to mental health problems. Volunteering at Strirchley Stores reassures me that I’m not a complete waste of space and being in a work environment, if only for a few hours a month, helps to keep me motivated and has had a positive impact on my self esteem.
Access to Suma catalogue
Keeping up my co-op/community cafe/shop marketing skills/expertise/experience
Networking to find out more about local area & related interests
Feeling ownership of my local shop
I got involved with Stirchley Stores to try and help contribute to making my area more like I wanted it to be. I have met lots of friendly people who live close by and now regularly bump into people I know when I am out and about in Stirchley. I originally signed up to look after the day to day accounts but have since taken on the role of Treasurer, a role I had carried out for smaller societies in the past. I have had the opportunity to develop my business skills in the role including maintaining accurate financial records, producing forecasts of takings and operating costs and keeping track of invoice payments.
I hope that the skills I gained in the role along with the commitment I have shown to the project will help me gain employment once I finish my research degree.
- Roger Swan
If you’d like to add your reasons for volunteering, please do so in the comments below.