A new Community Shop in Athersley has opened its doors and will provide low cost food for the community as well as access to support and advice.
The shop is a partnership project between Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Community Shop and stakeholders including Barnsley Council, which provided the asset transfer of the building and Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group.
MP for Barnsley Central, Dan Jarvis opened the store marking the first collaboration between the two organisations in the country. Their partnership builds on Community Shop’s experiences in its two existing stores in Goldthorpe and West Norwood, London.
Community Shop stores are located in areas of deprivation, with membership that is open to people who live locally and receive welfare support. As well as getting access to heavily discounted food to help to feed their families for less, membership also enables individuals to enrol in a Success Plan.
The Success Plan is the first step on a member’s journey to addressing the issues that are causing them challenges in their lives and getting back on the road to independence. This could be through classes on debt and finance, through cookery skills and home budgeting or as a result of mentoring to bridge back into education or employment. The impact has been transformational.
Recognising the need in coalfields communities and the aligned values and positive impact that has been reported by both organisations, this unique partnership creates a model that could be replicated throughout the country to the benefit of thousands of people who want to build a future for themselves and their families.
Cabinet Spokesperson for Communities at Barnsley Council, Cllr Jenny Platts, said: "We're delighted that this valuable asset has opened in Athersley. It’s an important step forward in providing support to local people, helping them to get back on the road to independence. It will also complement the council's ongoing commitment to support people and the community in this difficult financial climate."
Chief Executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Gary Ellis comments: “The only way to make a real and lasting change to the coalfield communities, supporting the future of generations to come, is to work in partnership with organisations such as Community Shop, that have a responsive and progressive strategy in place that aligns with that of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.”
John Marren, Founder and Chairman of Community Shop said: “We are excited to be working with The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, who share our sense of passion and purpose for the local communities we serve. We hope that Community Shop Athersley will be the first of many more joint projects to come, enabling us to achieve even greater impact together.”
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, added: “It is good to see another Community Shop open in Barnsley. I have seen for myself the brilliant work Community Shop has already done in Goldthorpe – not only providing great food at affordable prices but also helping its members to deal with issues that are holding them back. With the support of local food manufacturers, I am confident that the new Community Shop will thrive in Athersley.”
Dr Nick Balac, chair of NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Community Shop has been a fantastic resource for the people of Goldthorpe. The Success Plan initiative has offered a lifeline to people in the community who needed it most. It has had a great impact in their community and we hope the new shop will bring the same benefits to others in Athersley.”
In order for the partnership to work in other coalfield areas throughout the country support is required from local stakeholders. This could take the form of land, buildings, funding and experience.
These stakeholders include local authorities, LEPs, MPs, councillors, funding bodies and private companies. Additionally, for a Community Shop to flourish, it needs food partners in place to donate a proportion of their surplus product to the project. Both organisations urge any food manufacturers who would like to support to come forward.
With this infrastructure and external support in place, Community Shop and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust can plan for the development of more stores to tackle the social challenges faced by the coalfield communities throughout the UK.