Volunteers who opened an ’emergency shop’ in Brent Knoll when the Covid-19 crisis first hit have agreed to keep the shop open for the rest of this year.
Since opening the shop within ten days of the lockdown being announced, the team of volunteers has provided a seven-days-a-week service to the village, providing everything from flour to newspapers.
During that time, the shop has become a nationally acclaimed model of a community enterprise.
The Brent Knoll venture has been used as a case study by the Plunkett Foundation in its national report to Government on rural community businesses and has recently been featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘World Tonight’ programme.
The team has secured the support of the Plunkett Foundation, which has helped more than 300 rural community shops, and has succeeded in running for more than five months at a profit.
“But profit is not our aim,” says Dr. Niall Moore, Chairman of the Brent Knoll Community Shop. “We exist to provide our community with a service, and our aim is to restore both the village shop and the Post Office that this village has lost.”
While currently based in the former village shop, the team of volunteers are now planning how they can provide a permanent Community Shop – and restore the Post Office services to the village.
“We are also exploring how we can deliver a ‘village café’, having proved the potential for this from a series of weekly coffee-mornings outside the shop,” he adds.
Brent Knoll’s shop is open every day, Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 12 noon, and on Sundays from 9am to 11am.
“In the near future, we’ll be announcing our future plans, and asking our community to support those plans,” he added.