Village store and Post Office closure hits businesses and elderly

Take a look at our top stories of the week Picture: EMMA LLOYD-SMITH

Take a look at our top stories of the week Picture: EMMA LLOYD-SMITH - Credit: Archant

Neighbours are rallying round to help the elderly and housebound by offering to help with shopping after the sudden closure of their only village store.

The shop in Woodland Avenue, which serves more than 3,500 residents in Rendlesham, ceased trading on Thursday, October 11, leaving the community without a shop, Post Office or cash machine.

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David Oliver posted on Facebook: “I feel sorry for the elderly and those who can’t drive that relied on it for getting cash and parcels.”

Ros Thomas, 79, has lived in the village for eight years and has restricted mobility.

Even though she has her main food shop delivered, she used the store for newspapers as well as using the cash machine regularly.

“The shop was a vital source of cash and I used its banking services all the time,” she said.

“I can’t drive far and I would rely heavily on the Post Office too - along with many of the other elderly people in the village.

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“I use the internet to do my shopping, but a few of my friends don’t know how to use it and relied on the shop for their main source of food.”

Neighbour Liz Ferguson pointed out that the issue runs even deeper than not being able to get a pint of milk or a loaf of bread, and that the closure could compound feelings of isolation for older residents.

She said: “Some of those who live on their own have benefited from their daily walk to the shop to collect their paper, experiencing social contact which they’ll now miss.”

Neighbour Rachel Parsons added: “Some of the people only ever chatted to the staff when they visited once a week. There were many of us who regularly walked to the shop to collect a morning paper - giving a meaning to get out of bed and getting outside for a walk.

“We need the Post Office back ASAP, and of course it is necessary to have a shop ‘round the corner’ for the essentials. It was poorly stocked for ages, yes, but it did have long opening hours so when it had the essentials, it was good to be able to pop over to get them.”

Over the past week the community has rallied together - with the Broadwalk cafe selling bread and milk, and Community Action Suffolk setting up a good neighbour scheme to support the residents.

Sally Connick, from Community Action Suffolk, said: “With the shop and Post Office closing I think it shows just how important it is that communities pull together to help each other out and be resilient.”

Businesses have also been hit by the closure.

Kerry Potter, who recently moved to the area, said: “Small, at home businesses that rely on the post office will be impacted.

“Our cash-only businesses will see fewer customers, our non-drivers and non-digital neighbours will rely on the kindness of others to get money and food - also our children who are learning how to be independent and walk to the shop to pick up the bread or spend pocket money.

“And what really worries me is the impact on our older residents who take a short walk each day to say hello to others and pick up the essentials, keeping themselves socially and physically active.”

32-year-old Victoria Procter, who manages the UK side of Bambooty Real Nappies, said: “It’s created a problem for my business as I am no longer able to use the Royal Mail click and drop service.”

Kristina England added: “It will also make my business more difficult to manage without the Post Office service.”

The store owner has been contacted for comment.

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