Like so many villages, Brent Knoll has lost both its Post Office and its village shop. We lost our Post Office at the end of 2019, when the Post Master retired, and we lost our village shop on 1st March 2020 when the owner decided that the shop was no longer commercially viable.
While that was going on, we conducted a community consultation survey which revealed an overwhelming support for the idea of a Community Shop, with more than 40 people saying that they would volunteer their time and more than 90 people saying that they would invest in becoming share-holding members. That enabled us to secure the support of the Plunkett Foundation, which has helped more than 300 village shops to become successful community shops.
Then we were all hit by Covid-19!
Within ten days, we garnered the backing of enough volunteers – and the support of the shop-owner – to re-open the village shop as an ‘Emergency Shop’, to ensure that Brent Knoll residents retained access to vital supplies. Brent Knoll, which had no bus service, has a high number of elderly residents, many of whom had to self-isolate and had no access to cars for driving to supermarkets.
We engaged the local media to publicise our initiative – and secured local buskers to entertain our lines of waiting customers. This initiative has proved to be successful.
Our small volunteer-led shop has gone from strength to strength and we plan to be sticking around for a lot longer.
Children at Brent Knoll School produced bags that our customers could buy