Our Community Housing Adviser, Colin McDonald, went along to the Norton-Sub-Hamdon CLT community shop, to pick up some supplies, and see how they’re getting on in the crisis.
All over the country communities have come together to help each other and protect the most vulnerable at a time when the pandemic threatens us all. The Community Shop at Norton sub Hamdon in Somerset is just one example. A few years ago the Community Land Trust, which was already working with Yarlington (a Housing Association) on a local housing scheme, stepped in when the shop might otherwise have closed. These days the shop has two members of staff but is otherwise run by volunteers; although inside there is also a post office which is staffed separately.
The Government advice on self-isolating caused an initial problem with many of the existing volunteers in the group expected to stay at home for at least 12 weeks. All was not lost though as others soon came forward, including locals furloughed from work and students not currently able to return to University. At the same time the shop began a new ordering system for anybody self-isolating including neighbouring villages. Several directors of the CLT, and quite a few others, stepped forward to make the deliveries. The new service was advertised in the traditional way locally (posters on certain telegraph poles that serve as local messaging boards!) as well as through the different Parish Councils.
As well as helping some of their neighbours stay safe, they’ve seen an increase in the turnover at the shop. Everybody is hopeful that once the current wave of the virus is over, some of that increased custom with people who hadn’t previously used the Community Shop will be kept.