Case Study: Papay Coop

Shared by Tim Dodman, Secretary, Papay Coop

Name of Organisation/Project

Papay Community Coop (Papay Coop)
Papay Westray, Orkney KW17 2BU

Funding/Partners Involved

Climate Challenge Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Orkney Islands Council

Background Information

Papay Coop was established in 1979 as a social enterprise on a remote island with the aim of providing a community-owned shop for the island as well as an island hostel and guest house as the only (tourism) accommodation on the island. The Papay Coop has also organised tours and transport. Its services are lifeline for the community of around 85 folk and the 4-star hostel provides the only real option for visitor accommodation.

The organisation faces many logistical challenges due to the remote location and transport / freight arrangements. Staffing can also be a challenge for running the shop and hostel. The recent refurbishment (2017-18) was completed more-or-less according to plan, but such projects always require extra planning, e.g. when boats are cancelled due to rough weather. Recently, the shop has been unable to purchase petrol for the island due to a change in transport regulations, though this appears to be resolved now; it was an issue however that made national headlines.

The success of the Papay Coop is largely dependent on the commitment of a voluntary management committee and the goodwill of other volunteers. This can place some strain on folk who are already busy with work and other voluntary commitments.

Inclusive Growth Outcomes sought

The Papay Coop’s economic profile is rooted in the geography of a small island. It therefore depends on local partners and local facilities, such as ferries, local suppliers and volunteers.

It aims to provide employment through the community shop, hostel, transport provision and eco-workshop. Employment opportunities are generally hard to come by in small islands. The Papay Coop also provides school holiday jobs.

It aims for good partnership and wide participation, and to provide add-on social benefits to the island community.

The Papay Coop aims to provide a warm friendly centre for community functions and sharing.

Actions Taken

The Papay Coop employs local staff and provides real living wages.

It operates as a non-profit enterprise, with any profit put back into the development of facilities and services.

The Papay Coop is in partnership with the Papay Development Trust, which operates a market garden on the island, and commits to purchase anything that they produce, thereby assuring part-time employment of market gardener(s).

The Papay Coop has been organising a programme of workshops focused on sustainability and has been operating an eco-workshop, for producing local products out of local waste (mainly glass, cardboard and composting). The Papay Coop has also partnered with other agencies to secure energy-saving measures in a number of homes on the island, in parallel to its own eco-refurbishment.

The Papay Coop hosts a local bar (Saturdays only) and local events in a warm environment.

Challenges Encountered & How Overcome

The main challenges are logistical ones and dependence on a limited number of volunteers, as well as securing staff for the different jobs. The community hostel and shop also were in a poor state of repair prior to the recent eco-refurbishment.

Logistical and volunteer challenges remain, but are at least partly overcome through good stock management and maintaining flexibility. The committee shares its tasks.

Assessment of Impact & Future Opportunities

The Papay Coop continues to provide a lifeline service to the remote island community of Papa Westray and provides excellent accommodation facilities. Tourism is vital for the business but also good for the island, with numerous social and economic knock-on effects.

In the future, the Papay Coop aims to improve sustainability of the shop and invest in renewable energy, whilst trying to keep the eco-workshop going through innovative developments.

Links to relevant documents

Click to access SURF-Awards-Publication-2018-1.pdf

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