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Shop Local: Initiative rewards stores for supporting community

PUBLISHED: 11:30 07 November 2020

'The Wednesday Ladies' received a certificate on behalf of Bliss Marshall and the team at Coddenham Community Shop.  Pictured: (left to right) Margaret Baker, Gail Springett, Diane Mills, Tracey Deveney Picture: MORE THAN A SHOP

'The Wednesday Ladies' received a certificate on behalf of Bliss Marshall and the team at Coddenham Community Shop. Pictured: (left to right) Margaret Baker, Gail Springett, Diane Mills, Tracey Deveney Picture: MORE THAN A SHOP

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A scheme recognising community stores for their work confronting loneliness has been inundated with nominations during the pandemic, as more people Shop Local.

Ellie Baldry at Peasenhall General Store has been certificated as More Than a Shop.  Picture: MORE THAN A SHOPEllie Baldry at Peasenhall General Store has been certificated as More Than a Shop. Picture: MORE THAN A SHOP

More Than a Shop is a scheme run by the team behind the Rural Coffee Caravan recognising shops for their contributions to the local communities.

Ann Osborn, who runs the Rural Coffee Caravan, said: “These community shops are so much more than just somewhere that sells tea, bread and milk. They offer a vital connection to the community for so many people.

“For some people possibly the only social connection that they have is coming into the shop. And if people know that they are welcome to tarry a while then it can be a place of friendship as well.

“Pre-lockdown we thought it would be a good idea to highlight all the extra things that these communities shops do.

Jo Boyd at Ashley Stores has received a certificate to say it is More Than a Shop.  Picture: MORE THAN A SHOPJo Boyd at Ashley Stores has received a certificate to say it is More Than a Shop. Picture: MORE THAN A SHOP

“They are a key part of a community. And we just wanted to highlight that.”

MORE: Shop Local: ‘We need to Shop Local and bootstrap our own economy’

Mrs Osborn said that since lockdown they had been overwhelmed with people nominating their local village shop.

“It became apparent after a couple of months that these shops were absolutely crucial,” Mrs Osborn said.

Ann Osborn and Sally Fogden of the Rural Coffee Caravan  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAnn Osborn and Sally Fogden of the Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

That was when More Than a Shop hit upon the idea of using this network of shop keepers to help lonely or isolated individuals.

Mrs Osborn said: “I would like to think that people have recognised how empty their community would be, if they didn’t have that shop.

“They are part of the fabric of community life. We should be able to walk down the road and buy a pint of milk and a loaf of bread.”

That is why this newspaper has launched the Shop Local campaign. Shop Local is a use-it-or-lose-it plea to shoppers to spend their hard-earned cash with the independent traders and businesses that bring so much to our communities.

Joe Wooster and the team at family-run Wooster's Bakery have been certificated as More Than a Shop. Pictured here with the founder of the Rural Coffee Caravan Sally Fogden in 2019  Picture: MORE THAN A SHOPJoe Wooster and the team at family-run Wooster's Bakery have been certificated as More Than a Shop. Pictured here with the founder of the Rural Coffee Caravan Sally Fogden in 2019 Picture: MORE THAN A SHOP

Mrs Osborn said: “In many instances community shops have become like the old village post offices used to be. The people who work regularly in those shops, know when someone who normally comes in hasn’t come in.

“They start to notice when things aren’t the way they perhaps should be and they will do something about it. They’ll get in touch or they’ll talk to a neighbour.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people that were saying our shop is fantastic, the shop keeper is amazing or even: ‘I don’t live anywhere near my mum, but I know the shopkeeper keeps an eye out for her’.

“It is just so heart-warming.”

Shops around Suffolk have been certificated as More Than a Shop.  Picture: MORE THAN A SHOPShops around Suffolk have been certificated as More Than a Shop. Picture: MORE THAN A SHOP

MORE: Do you Shop Local with independents? Fill in our survey

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What have shops been nominated for?

• Moulton Post Office & Stores

“The staff always have gone above and beyond for the community. We would be lost without it. The staff have worked so hard during this stressful and difficult time.

“Serving customers, keeping shelves fully stocked. Delivering to shielding members of our community and generally looking out for everyone. Definitely more than just a shop...”

• Orwell Stores, Nacton

“Paula and Robert Warner who have provided massive support to the fragile and elderly in Nacton, not only as a result of Covid-19 but even before that.

“They have been an absolute lifeline that allows my elderly mother to continue to live a full and independent life even when she has suffered fractures to her hip, wrist & pelvis.

“Due to my house set up, mum could not have safely recuperated with me but through the exceptional support from these two stalwarts of Nacton village, with each fracture, she was discharged from the rehabilitation nursing home with her and the family secure in the knowledge that she could order pretty much all her day to day requirements for food etc and they would deliver it straight to her home.

“This [award] would be an amazing recognition of all they do. Even after about 40 years they continue to be the beating heart of the village.”

• Peasenhall General Store

“After having a new baby and then losing all of their members of staff due to lockdown, they still opened everyday and did all they can for their village and customers.

“Parcels for the elderly, deliveries to people who were self isolating and still smiling while trying to juggle family life. Well done to you both at Peasenhall General Store.”

• Railway Farm Shop, Benhall

“I would like to nominate the Railway Farm Shop in Benhall for staying open and delivering their veg boxes to those stuck at home because of lockdown.

“With lockdown easing there is always a friendly face at the shop too. When you visit you are treated like one of the family.”

• Warwick Convenience Store, Ipswich

“So impressed with their community spirit and willingness to do whatever they can to help you.

“They have been a lifeline to the most vulnerable, delivering shopping to their doorstep, alleviating so much stress and worry.”


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