2018 has been a momentous year for Rochdale Stronger Together.   The initiative is an ambitious approach to transform Rochdale Borough and is bringing residents, communities, local institutions and businesses together to forge a good local economy and create community wealth. 

The goal is to create jobs that people want, communities where people want to live and opportunities for young people to aspire and achieve.

Over the last 12 months the initiative has turned ideas in to words and then in to actions.   Eight partners, representing the health, education, social housing, leisure, local authority as well as co-operative and social enterprise sectors, have come together and committed to building a good local economy across the Borough.  No less than seven of these are anchor institutions; called so because they are large-scale local employers, purchasers of goods and services and/or controllers of fixed assets.

Strong Principles

The principles underpinning Rochdale Stronger Together have already been very successfully tried and tested in Spain, the United States and the UK.  They are about:

  1. Enabling transformational community leadership,
  2. Using the strengths of anchor institutions to support local economic development,
  3. Buying locally produced goods and services,
  4. Supporting and creating local co-operatives and community businesses,
  5. Ensuring there is accessible investment for skills development and business growth, and
  6. Ensuring assets and services work for the whole community.

2018 Achievements

Given its only recent creation, Rochdale Stronger Together can boast many substantial achievements in 2018. Highlights are:

At the beginning of the year, this saw partners sign up to a pledge committing them to:

  • act as anchor institutions,
  • stimulate vision, renewal and local ownership, and
  • seek to provide economic opportunities to economically disadvantaged residents and communities.   Read More…

Delivered in July, these included:

  • Rochdale Jobs: Rochdale People – which looked at what anchors institutions could do to increase opportunities for local people to gain good quality work.   Read More…
  • Spending FOR Rochdale People WITH Rochdale People – which looked at how anchors can support the local economy by purchasing more goods and services from local suppliers whilst still delivering value for money. Read More…

The workshops brought together key employees from the anchor partners to explore best practice and identify practical steps that could be jointly taken to build a good local economy.  Partners had different levels of understanding and alignment with the Rochdale Stronger Together principles and so this was an excellent opportunity for sharing ideas, experience and learning.

Delivered by Alliance Manchester Business MBA students in collaboration with Rochdale Stronger Together. Over ten weeks, five international students with diverse professional experience delivered 400 hours of project work to develop and pilot a method to understand the flows of goods and services into and out of Rochdale Borough.  Within the construction sector alone, the MBA project team identified £373M of goods and services currently being imported into the Borough. The work will help Rochdale Stronger Together to identify opportunities for local economic growth and to support new and existing businesses with valuable market intelligence.   Read More…

This ensures Rochdale Stronger Together remains effective and true to its values and that partners remain accountable to each other as well as the community.

The establishment of four focused workstreams; each supported by a virtual team of anchor and community members provides the capacity to deliver the ambitious Rochdale Stronger Together workplan.  This represents a substantial step in Rochdale Stronger Together’s evolution; increasing operational capacity and enabling broader awareness of the Rochdale Stronger Together vision and principles.  Read More…

Although still underway, headline figures are emerging; providing leaders with the information they need to be able to increase the amount of money their organisations are spending with local suppliers. In the last year Rochdale Council has increased its spend with local suppliers by 11%, equivalent to an extra £13.3M for the local economy. The combined spend of four of the other anchors is £53M.  This represents substantial opportunity for increasing the money being spent with local suppliers and staying in the local economy.   Read More…

In a fabulous example of community assets working together, Zen Internet (based in Rochdale) provided at no cost a domain and domain name for the Rochdale Stronger Together’s website.  Then Hopwood Hall College Graphic Design students participated in a brand design competition to find a new brand for Rochdale Stronger Together.  The winner has yet to be formally announced (watch this space!) however the fabulous logo has already been rolled out.  And to show off the new brand, Rochdale Stronger Together has its very own dedicated social media presence.  See Here…

Looking Forward to 2019

With a Leadership Group established and a clear framework for delivery in place, in 2019 Rochdale Stronger Together can focus on delivering its core objective; community wealth building from the bottom up. 

Bottom up versus top down requires a new approach!  So many 2019 objectives focus on developing the information, knowledge and understanding necessary to have real impact at a large scale.   These include:

For businesses a comprehensive, seamless pathway bringing together the support, knowledge & experience local community businesses / entrepreneurs need to set up and scale. For the People’s Pathway, this means to help residents go from being economically excluded all the way to employed in high skills jobs – the goal is a tailored approach for every step of the way.

This means understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the local economy and will include acting on the recommendations identified in the Understanding Rochdale’s Local Economy final report (due to be published very soon…watch this space!).

To establish a detailed understanding of how much money is staying in and how much is leaking out of the local economy. This will also identify the sectors where Rochdale Stronger Together can most easily reduce money leaking out of the Borough.

This will include by assessing the number at each pay grade and the combined salaries.  Alongside this, work will continue to encourage local employers to become real Living Wage Accredited and to support the GMCA Bridge GM programme to connect industry and the world of work with the education of young people.

To ensure Rochdale Stronger Together is connected with the views, needs and strengths of the Borough’s residents as well as ensuring key individuals are in the know so that maximum support is generated for the initiative.

This exciting agenda to raise productivity in the North of England and to put it on par with London and the South East offers fantastic opportunities for northern communities to draw on the their industrial heritage, re-invent themselves and create more prosperous futures for themselves. Rochdale Borough is no exception.  Rochdale Stronger Together wants to explore what the Borough could like in 2050 and understand what it can do now to help that positive, confident and successful future become a reality.

One of the truly exciting aspects of working from the grassroots level and up, is that opportunities evolve and emerge unexpectedly.  So the Rochdale Stronger Together plan for 2019 will adapt and evolve with the opportunities as they arise.  One thing that won’t change however is the drive and determination to deliver a good local economy and shared community wealth for everyone in the Borough.

Join us on this journey – take control and be part of making that better future for you and the Borough….

If you’d like to find out more about Rochdale Stronger Together or get involved, please sign up to our blog CLICK HERE, follow us on social media and/or get in touch CLICK HERE.

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