The co-operative spirit is alive and kicking in Hebden Bridge, despite floods on Boxing Day which devastated the town centre. Two of the town’s many co-ops, the Valley Organics worker co-op and the Egg Factory co-working space, are among the pop-up shops surfacing throughout the town.
The Egg Factory is hosting a weekend of pop-up activity this weekend (9-10 January), and has offered free desk space to anyone who is unable to access their office in the wake of the floods.
Sue Mellis of the Egg Factory said: “Luckily we survived unscathed but lots of our friends have been deeply affected at home and at work. It’s really hard on people but the community spirit has been amazing. The town has really pulled together.
“We wanted to be part of that so we’ve invited people who no longer have an office to work here for free during January and we’re hosting pop-up shops for itinerant shopkeepers over the coming weeks.”
Rubyshoesday’s pop-up shoe shop will operate at the Egg Factory until they move back into their Market Street premises the week beginning 18 January. Ribbon Circus, another refugee from Market Street, will join Rubyshoesday and other traders for the pop-up market this weekend. ”There will be other shops coming as well, which we’ll announce on social media,” said Sue. “The traders of Hebden Bridge need our support more than ever.”
Valley Organics has popped up at the Ground Floor Project at Salem Community Resource Centre in Central Street, Hebden Bridge. Its new temporary shop is bigger than its usual base on Market Street, which was four feet underwater at the height of the floods.
“We lost over half our stock,” said Ellie, a worker-member at Valley Organics. “We weren’t able to get insurance because it’s happened before so it’s too expensive. Most of the town centre shops aren’t insured.”
But, she added, the 10-member co-op, which employs a further three people, remained positive. “We need extra support to get back on our feet, but there’s a lot of us to shoulder the burden.”
The Fox and Goose co-operative pub remained open throughout the flooding, offering shelter, a fire and a drink by candlelight during the worst of the floods. “We never closed,” said barman Drew Megiera, “despite having no electricity for three and half days, being four inches behind the bar and half its staff being unable to work.”
The Trades Club, which became a co-op in October 2015, opened the day after the flooding as a hub for clean up activity during the relief effort, providing a place to eat and rest for flood victims and volunteers. Thanks to donated hot and cold food from individuals, businesses, community groups, churches and mosques, volunteers were able to offer hot meals by candlelight while the town centre’s electricity was switched off.