Why you should support your local newsagent during the coronavirus crisis
- Credit: DAVID PATRICK
Calls have been made to support local newsagents as the coronavirus crisis continues to put pressure on small businesses.
For towns and villages across the county, the local newsagents is more than just a place to pick up a pint of milk – it serves as a hub of the community, bringing reliable news direct to the doorsteps of its customers.
Now, with the coronavirus crisis continuing to keep people at home, newsagents are stepping up their delivery efforts in a bid to help those in isolation remain connected to the outside world – while pressure continues to mount. MORE: How you can donate items to NHS heroes on the frontline
Newsagent David Patrick, who owns shops in Framlingham and Halesworth, said he has gained between 200 to 300 new delivery customers during the pandemic and the need to serve them is greater than ever.
Mr Patrick said: “I’m down two drivers and one shop worker because they need to self isolating, but at the same time the customer base is growing.
“We’re now delivering more than 4,000 papers to people across east Suffolk, many of whom are vulnerable and desperate for a paper.
“I’m making sure our drivers and paperboys and girls have the right safety equipment like gloves and masks – it is challenging because of the precautions but for so many people a paper is their main source of news, something to read and something to do. It is a mental thing too.”
Research from the World Health Organisation shows the risk of contamination from packages received through post are low.
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Mr Patrick, who also delivers to Woodbridge, Kesgrave and other surrounding villages, added the crisis has highlighted the central role in communities newsagents and newspapers alike should provide.
“Our drivers get to know the customers,” he said. “They can always tell when something is wrong and are always there to talk to people at their doorstep, but unfortunately now we have to keep our distance.
“All of them deserve a pat on the back for the great work they’re doing to serve their communities, but really it is an absolute pleasure for us all to do so.
“One customer even called me scared as she hadn’t had milk in the house for two days, so I delivered some to here. I can’t help everyone, but if someone is genuinely in a muddle, then it is my pleasure.”
At Brunswick Road Post Office, brothers Sunny and Babsy Singh said they have a duty of care to their customers and ensuring all of their health and welfare is a top priority.
Although not offering delivery, the post office remains opened with revised opening hours so people in the community can pick up a paper and household supplies.
Sunny said: “We’ve all got to stick together and help each other as much as we can in times like these – but trying to keep indoors is they key.”
Brad Jones, editor of the EADT and Ipswich Star, said: “We are extremely grateful to all those newsagents working so hard to get the papers to readers during these difficult times. They really are heroes.
“The newspapers are giving people reliable, trusted news – and that is so important right now. So thank you to everyone who is helping make that happen.” MORE: Join our Facebook group for the latest coronavirus updates
•As newsagents continue to see a rise in the number of delivery orders during the coronavirus crisis – why not lend them a hand?
Self-isolation among delivery workers, just like in other industries, poses a threat to keeping supply chains running and adds mounting pressure among small businesses like newsagents.
Mr Patrick said he already has one volunteer helping his deliveries in east Suffolk, but has called on others who may like to utilise their one allotted outdoor exercise allowance to help vulnerable people receive their newspaper.
Mr Patrick said: “I have one person who has been furloughed who has offered his support to deliver papers in the local area.
“He isn’t doing it for money, but instead as a way to help keep fit while helping other people.”
Those near Halesworth, Framlingham, Woodbridge or Kesgrave who would like to lend a hand should contact Mr Patrick on 01986 875229. For the latest daily updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.