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GRA Community Award Shortlist Announced

Community Award

Entries to the Community category of the 2021 Good Retail Awards have showcased many impressive examples of retailers using innovation to succeed in what has been an incredibly challenging year.

We would like to take the time to say thank you to all who entered. The number of inspirational stories shared by so many retailers made it a privilege (and a real challenge!) to narrow them down to the final shortlist.

The Community Award is open to retailers who have made an effort to give back to their community. It honours companies who have gone above and beyond to transform and enhance the lives of others.

Modern Retail is delighted to announce the official shortlist for the Good Retail Awards’ Community Award.

The shortlist is as follows:

Make Town

Make Town launched an initiative to assist NHS workers by creating scrubs for them to wear. Set up by a core group of four women, they launched a fundraising page towards materials and stock, collecting over £20,000. Setting up an online presence to network and spread their message, Make Town saw local professional seamstresses and theatre costumers that were out of work, assist in sewing scrubs and other medical attire for the community.

Providing more than 400 sets of scrubs and multiple washbags and gowns, Make Town created a sense of productivity and helpfulness among locals, as well as those further afield.

This collective project helped to fulfil a physical need in the community, while combating personal mental health struggles of helplessness and loneliness.

Corbridge Larder

Corbridge Larder has helped those in the local community through countless initiatives in recent months. One of their approaches has seen them providing a free, vital delivery service to those in their village as well as the surrounding area. In addition to their usual produce, they began supplying fresh fruit and veg, household products, animal food, flour and even yeast, to try and cater to all customers’ requirements. This service was incredibly popular, preventing vulnerable people from needing to visit shops.

Working with a local author, Corbridge Larder asked followers to nominate key workers to surprise with goodies, as well as delivering bulk provisions to those in care homes. In addition to this, Corbridge Larder also delivered weekly groceries to 48 families in deprived areas via their schools, making sure they could enjoy at least one hot meal a day, as well as giving families the opportunity to cook together.

The support from the community has been outstanding, celebrating Corbridge Larder’s efforts to support those in the local area throughout tough times.

Birdsong

Starting in 2014, Birdsong has provided living wages, as well as safe and happy working environments and income for people facing barriers to work in London. Pausing all production for the months during the pandemic, they switched to a made to order model, making sure seamstresses could still have work when it was safe for them to sew again.

Setting up a hardship fund, Birdsong managed to fly their embroiderer back from Egypt. Without putting any of their supply chain at risk of COVID, Birdsong has made over £40,000 in living wages for marginalised people in London and the organisations that support them.

Using sustainable fabrics and creating a supply chain from local charities, social enterprises and community projects, Birdsong have helped those from all walks of life to succeed, showing that fashion can be done in a compassionate, better way for local people and the planet.

Stationery Supplies

Stationery supplies supported their local community by making it simple to work and educate children from home, as well as being actively engaged in fundraising and coming up with fantastic ideas. Introducing regular video and social media live videos, Stationery Supplies kept face-to-face contact with customers, as well as sharing craft ideas and community events during the pandemic.

Creating a service that meant people could receive supplies in whichever way they were most comfortable, Sarah also took part in numerous community projects to help others. Shaving her hair off on a live Facebook video to raise money for a local charity that supports low income families that have lost income due to the pandemic, Sarah raised £7,500, alongside others to help locals. 

In a true collaboration of local business, Sarah produces a Marple Calendar every year, which is printed by a local printer, to raise money for a Marple-based charity. As a founding member of a support group for Marple independent shops, Sarah is passionate about helping businesses in the area to succeed, through regular initiatives such as the ‘Marple Young Person’s Writing Competition’.

MAKE@Aldingbourne Enterprises

Make is a social enterprise that is part of the Aldingbourne Trust, supporting adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to reach their potential and to learn a range of new skills. Providing support and encouragement, as well as opportunities within catering, retail and art, Make enable people to have more independent and fulfilled lives, while creating community engagement.

Make places the people that they support at the heart of everything they do, training them and helping them to gain qualifications wherever possible. Amidst COVID-19, Make had to come up with innovative ways to support the community remotely, creating activity packs tailored to individuals’ needs, each with specific purposes and outcomes.

Utilising a closed Facebook group, video calls and Zoom, they provided online cooking tutorials, phone calls and socially distanced visits to support their team. Allowing people to gain irreplaceable skills while having fun and making friends, Make typically run events, as well as providing a space and donations for community groups to use.

The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café

The Old Moat Garden Centre & Café is part of the Richmond Fellowship, reinvesting 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.

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, 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.

For more information on the Good Retail Awards, click here.

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