Community Shop

Update for the Fairness Commission Board – March 2015

Background

The project originated with a Fairness Commission Steering Group discussion, from members who had noted  the opportunities for providing well-priced, good-quality food in areas of Blackpool that don’t have access to such provision. A community shop may also provide a more long-term solution for residents accessing food banks.

A community shop working group has been set up to explore the feasibility of the idea. Joining Steering Group members Tracy Hopkins (Chair), Arif Rajpura and Mark Fitzgerald, are community representatives, Blackpool Food Partnership representatives, Council staff and ward councillors.

The venue will be the City Learning Centre (CLC) at Grange Park.

Current planning

Key elements will include:

  • Focussing on reducing food poverty;
  • Retail training opportunities for residents;
  • Employment opportunities – it is likely that at least one role will be paid;
  • Making links with other geographically-close projects, like the community farm, the community garden, the Fairness Commission’s social isolation project;
  • Exploring whether it would be feasible to make use of the café/cooking facilities in the CLC, for eg courses;
  • Making a shop sustainable, and self-supporting

Key areas of output to be measured would be:

  • Access to good quality food;
  • Improvement in nutritional inputs;
  • Improvement in levels of knowledge of food education;
  • Profit/loss;
  • Work skills gained and employment opportunities

Support from the Plunkett Foundation

At around the same time as the discussion at the Fairness Commission Steering Group, the Plunkett Foundation launched a national funding and business advice programme to support the development of urban community shops (they have a track record of supporting community shops in rural areas).

CVS led a bid to the Plunkett Foundation and secured an initial £5000 of business support. This supports communities to explore feasibility of a community shop prior to bidding for further capital funding (also from the Plunkett Foundation). Blackpool’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau will be leading the bid for further funding.

Next steps

The group will be carrying out some market research, led by community members  – this will include:

  • working with community members to assess the existing local provision
  • mystery shopping exercises, and costing up a basket of ‘favourite’ shopping items
  • visits to other community shops
  • exploring bulk buying options