Dalmellington's Gaela Hall is one of a number of people across the country working hard to connect people with their community.

As part of Co-op's membership scheme, Gaela brings people and local causes together within communities to offer practical advice and help, to make communities better places to work, play, live and learn.

The work is being carried out as part of a Co-op study which found that almost one fifth (19%) of people asked, said they would not want to live in the place they currently reside in the next five years.

For these people, a third (33%) said it’s because they don’t have a connection to their area.

Gaela feels she has an important role within her community, to try and connect people with what's going on.

She enjoys being a face that people can recognise and feel comfortable with.

Gaela said: “I have so many moments I am proud of being a Community Member Pioneer. It is great to be 'pinged' on people's social media if someone is looking for help and advice.

"This means that local people are aware of me and what I can do to help them. I live in the village and I am active in many groups and that really helps. It is great to be able to support local groups.

“I decided to become a Community Member Pioneer, as I was already involved with many groups and the post became available in the early days of the first lockdown. 

Gaela Hall, Co-op’s latest Member PioneerGaela Hall

"Whilst I was still working for the high school, I had time on my hands to do more.  I can honestly say that helping the community gives me a buzz and I just want to help more, the position has made me feel more connected to my community, helping my confidence grow.

"I feel I’ve made a positive difference locally, have met more people locally, all whilst gaining valuable experience for my career and other areas of my life.”

Co-op is extending its Member Pioneers to 1000 by introducing a further 150 Member Pioneers across the country as a means of putting more people on the ground to help make communities happier and healthier places to be.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community & Membership at the Co-op added: "Our Member Pioneers have a vital role to play in helping their local communities connect, which is why, through our Co-op membership scheme we’re going to be arming more communities with even more of these wonderful people.”