Transforming shopping with CounterCoin

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It is so inspiring to see community initiatives rising and flourishing in the places we already frequent, such as the local pub, coffee shop or... shopping centres.

A shopping centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme known as York Place has become a shining example of this. The injection of new businesses run independently by entrepreneurs and investment in renovation has helped revitalise the shopping centre which is now not just a retail place but also a community space where locals meet and connect. And this month York Place was granted the Fairplace Award - a comprehensive ethical workplace standard which recognises companies' commitment to people and planet - for its effort in community building.

York Place has long suffered under-investment. Through partnership, creativity, resourcefulness and bravery our plan is to use the principles of the ‘sharing economy’ to turn-around its fortunes and at the same time effect sustainable change for the better by impacting the centre’s appearance and functionality. This will also impact directly on the local community’s educational under-achievement and health inequalities.

One of the spots where community meets is the YMCA's The Place to BE - a craft shop as well as a maker space to deliver, create & innovate. All monies go back into community initiatives.

But maybe the real transformational potential is developing in the youth-driven project CounterCoin which operates on a number of levels at once. CounterCoin looks at all the waste 'product' available - from excess food approaching its sell-by date to empty, unaffordable, cinema seats -  and turns it into rewards for jobless youngsters who are willing to volunteer at community and charity events.  Every hour volunteered will earn five CounterCoins with a total value of £5 – which can be 'spent' at the shops  and outlets within the  centre who have signed up to trade their excess in this currency. 

Mike Riddell, Director of Hometown Plus and co-creator of CounterCoin believes the coincidence of  youth unemployment, waste product and a multiplicity of needs and opportunities within the local community could, with positive engagement, create immense value for society. What's needed is a new concept of citizenship and imaginative training that helps them to bring 21st C skills to reinvent community. Contact Mike or if you want to help.

Meantime, the CounterCoin was designed and made at Wavemaker - a non-profit community maker space in Stroke. See how in the video below, also created, shot and edited by young adults from a local YMCA club.

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