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You are here: Home » News » Hillpark Young Co-operative, Glasgow

Hillpark Young Co-operative

Hillpark Secondary Logo copy

Hillpark Young Co-operative report on the good work they have been doing both in their school, Hillpark Secondary School in Glasgow, and the wider community.

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Hillpark Young Co-operative was set up in Feb 2006 in response to wishes expressed by pupils in the Human Rights Group to set up a Fair Trade group. Initially, the group was known as the Fair Trade Enterprise Group, but members rapidly voted to become a Young Co-operative. This was an important step as co-operative values and principles meant that the group was led by pupils and not teacher controlled. Acting on pupils’ ideas and wishes can prove challenging but rewarding and empowering for all.

Hillpark Young Co-operative

Initially, the group started with £12, which was used to purchase some promotional materials. Pupils from the group and a member of staff spoke at assemblies during Fairtrade Fortnight and this culminated in a Fairtrade Day of Action being held in the school, supported by the Scottish Co-operative, local fair traders and charities and campaigning groups. It was decided that this event would not be primarily for profit but would promote the group within the school community. It was highly successful and the Young Co-operative was able to send £100 to Actionaid as well as retain some funds to spend on goods for a Fairtrade tuck shop. Now that the Young Co-operative had become recognisable in the school community, the mission became to educate pupils about injustices in the world’s trading systems as well as to promote the benefits of co-operative enterprise.

Hillpark Make Poverty History

The co-operative voted to hold a Battle of the Bands in October of their first year in order to raise more funds but also, importantly, act as a platform for their message of how young people can help address poverty in the developing world, particularly following targets of the previous year’s G8 summit in Gleneagles’ and the Make Poverty History campaign. It was particularly apt that this was a rock concert as this has in recent years been a traditional vehicle for communication on poverty issues. The event was a huge success and enabled the group to expand their awareness raising and Fair Trade enterprise activities. These included taking part in a local community festival and, importantly, running workshops on Fair Trade in all the primary schools in Hillpark’s Learning Community.

Hillpark Young Co-operative Battle of the Bands

We were delighted to be awarded the Young Cooperatives UK award for Selling Success after our first year and were presented with this at the Co-operative Education Trust Scotland’s (CETS) Conference in 2007. CETS have been invaluable in providing support and advice, as well as enabling us to network with others involved in the co-operative movement, and we continue to enjoy mutual benefits from this.

Hillpark Young Co-operative mural

The following year, the Young Co-operative was invited to take part in a Curriculum for Excellence performance event in the Arches Theatre. The theme was the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery. The group felt very strongly that they wanted to make people aware of modern day slavery, so working with case studies provided by Anti Slavery International they produced a large graffiti mural with a Glasgow urban artist. They also put together a rock band who wrote and performed a song, “Slavery is not Dead”, in front of the mural with an accompanying multi media show giving hard statistical evidence and images showing the scale of modern day slavery and particularly the number of children involved.

Hillpark Young Co-operative rock band

The co-operative’s success has continued to attract interest, and consequently funding, so we were nominated to take part in a project with Sense over Sectarianism and YRock, a music promotions and development company which works with a wide range of musicians and artists. The group wanted to challenge common thinking about sectarianism and stereotypes so a band was formed to convey this message. A series of workshops covered a wide range of activities, from songwriting and recording to marketing and music promotion. A CD was produced in a professional recording studio in Glasgow for distribution in the community and the co-operative ran workshops and performed for primary schools. This was covered by the media, including STV.

Over 2009-2010, the co-operative made a film, a short drama about a teenage girl with autism, with funding from First Light Movies and the UK Film Council with our partners, the Media Co-op. The pupils were responsible at all stages of the filming process from script, direction, camera and sound to the soundtrack, titles etc. The theme is very apt as a high proportion of the members of the Young Co-operative have Asperger Syndrome/Autism due to Hillpark having an Autism Unit. The film, “I Know Her Kind”, was premiered at the Cooperatives Fortnight launch day at New Lanark in June 2010 and screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre in July.
We acquired Fairtrade status for Hillpark Secondary School in July 2010 and will continue our work to maintain this.

The Young Co-operative have forged strong partnerships with other co-operatives, businesses and campaigning groups, such as the Scottish Co-operative, CETS, Green City, Media Co-op, YRock, Created (Tearcraft), Anti Slavery International etc.
All this has been achieved through Fair Trade enterprise and anti-poverty campaigning, which will always remain the driving force of the group. All the activities undertaken have been generated by members, voted on and agreed by the group’s members and have been self funded or funded by outside bodies so we are not dependent on education authority budgets. Pupils have learned the impact of unethical trading and environmental damage on global poverty, how to work co-operatively in teams, problem solving, creative approaches, business management, stock, accounting, etc, marketing and campaigning skills, engaging with others in the community, media skills, expressive arts skills in visual arts, music, drama and performance.

This has resulted in greater awareness and understanding of global issues, the value of young people in the world and the effect of their choices and actions. Realisation of previously unknown or unacknowledged skills has led to increased confidence, enhanced self esteem and the acquisition of skills for life, learning and work. There are so many aspects to the group’s work that all can contribute in their own way and all are valued. In addition, pupils experience enhanced health and wellbeing – particularly as it is fun!

For more information, please visit the Young Co-operative section of the Hillpark Secondary School website.

A video featuring Hillpark Students talking about that they get out of being in a Young Co-operative can be viewed on The Co-operative's Ethical TV channel.