The Community Award category of the Good Retail Awards set out to find retailers that go above and beyond to transform the lives of others.
Last year’s winners,The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café, set the bar high, with their work-based program for local people living with mental health challenges, giving them the confidence and skills needed to get back into employment and help them move on to the next step in their recovery.
Following on from the success of last year’s awards, this year saw retailers enter from far and wide, sharing their fantastic work in the community and inspirational stories, despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Those that were shortlisted demonstrated a wide range of approaches to giving back to their community in recent months.
The Good Retail Awards’ panel of judges went through the shortlist for the Community category, looking for retailers that have shown innovation and dedication to making a lasting difference in their local area, as well as the community engagement that this has resulted in. After a challenging judging process, the winner of the Good Retail Awards 2021’s Community Award was decided.
The Community Award winner – The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café
The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café has won the Community Award for the second year in a row. This impressive achievement is due to their outstanding work in the local area, combining their ongoing commitment as a wellbeing service with continuous innovation in the retail space. As part of the Richmond Fellowship, they reinvest their profits into supporting the recovery of people living with mental ill health. Helping around 50 people at any one time and providing them with the confidence, skills and qualifications they need, the Old Moat Garden Centre & Café is a place for them to work alongside staff and volunteers in a safe, supportive environment.
When the garden centre initially had to close due to lockdown, they quickly adapted their support service to offer digital support, including regular Zoom chats, which some described as a lifeline. Amidst challenging circumstances, the Old Moat has adapted its offering to keep their team safe, training the team to bake cakes away from the public, as well as launching an online ordering and delivery service.
Speaking about the ways that they have shifted to offer support virtually, Joy Ridley of The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café said: “We have a virtual tea and coffee break twice a week which I host for the Old Moat family; the staff, volunteers and people that we support. It’s lovely as it lifts people and gives everyone an opportunity to have a regular chat, which makes a big difference.”
Recent months have seen a large increase in the number of people being referred for their wellbeing service, as well as a continuous growth in website visits and social media followers, enabling them to help more people when it is safe to do so.
Seeing themselves as a wellbeing service first and retailer second, the garden centre has made the difficult decision to close its doors for the time being, in order to keep their staff and customers safe, however their work in the local community continues. Joy explained: “Although we are recognised as an essential business by the government, we have acted according to what we believe to be right. As a wellbeing service first, in order to enable the people we support to come in if they want to, it was safer for them if we closed to the public. It’s also made it safer for our volunteers and loyal customers. We have a skeleton team on site every day with about four staff and the people that we support. Whoever wants to come in is able to, and this makes a huge difference, with one person coming in almost every day because they say it’s the place they feel the happiest.
The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café has been supported by those in the community as they work to provide the same opportunities for those that need it, while protecting their volunteers. Joy added: “All the feedback has been so positive. We’ve had so much support on Facebook and through emails from people saying that we’re doing the right thing.”
As well as continuing to provide support within the community, the team are busy behind the scenes, working to create more opportunities. Joy shared: “We’ve been able to use this time to look into types of funding such as grants. Many of these have been successful and I’m submitting more applications, as well as going onto webinars to learn and improve skills, so we’re remaining productive during this time.”
The Good Retail Awards judges praised The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café for their work within the community, with James Mansfield, Ecommerce, Warehouse and Logistics Consultant at The Access Group commenting: “I cannot fault the originality and diversity of this social enterprise offering. Truly awe-inspiring and a lifeline to the community it serves.”
Catherine Erdly, Founder of the Resilient Retail Club, said: “The Old Moat have managed to not only grow their business during the pandemic, but also continue to deliver their main purpose – supporting those in their community most in need. An impressive performance.”
Julie Driscoll, UK Regional Director of Hyve Group plc (Spring Fair) said: “This is a great example of a small business making an impact in the community, making an impact in people’s lives and also providing a great retail experience.”
Holly Worthington, Content Editor of Modern Retail added: “The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café does a brilliant job of helping those in the local community to gain lifelong skills, as well as putting their needs and requirements at the forefront of everything they do. They have adapted throughout the pandemic to help as many people as possible and continue to do so.”
The Good Retail Awards 2021 shortlist highlighted retailers that are leading the way in their local communities. The calibre of entries was incredibly high this year, with the campaigns and creativity displayed making the judging process a real challenge.
The shortlist for the Community award included:
Make town launched an initiative to create scrubs for NHS workers to wear. Creating an online presence, they networked to tap into the expertise of local professional seamstresses and theatre customers that were out of work, creating essential medical attire.
Corbridge Larder helped those in their local community in numerous ways, making a difference by launching a free delivery service, surprising key workers with goodies, supplying groceries for families in deprived areas and much more.
Birdsong has provided living wages as well as safe and happy working environments and income for those facing barriers to work in London, helping those from all walks of life to succeed.
Stationery Supplies introduced regular video and social media live videos to keep face-to-face contact with customers, share craft ideas and create community events throughout the pandemic.
MAKE @ Aldingbourne Enterprises
Make is a social enterprise that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to reach their potential and learn new skills through the likes of catering, retail and art.
We’d like to thank everybody that entered the Good Retail Awards 2021. It’s been a pleasure to learn more about each and every entrant and we look forward to continuing to celebrate their successes in the coming months.
To read more about the Community shortlist, click here.
Thanks again to all who have made the Good Retail Awards 2021 such a success. We’re proud to be part of a community that showcases the most inspirational and exciting initiatives in the industry. Congratulations again to The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café and we look forward to continuing to share the most innovative campaigns in the world of retail.
To find out more about the Good Retail Awards, and to keep up to date with the latest news, click here.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.