A warm welcome was received from Sue and Ros at Westbury Community Shop and Café. As part of the new village hall build, Westbury shop and cafe, which is run by a separate Community Benefit Society (CBS), received a boost of funding to help get the shop up and running and a Power to Change grant to help with the running of the business. Access to the shop isn’t always ideal, without a footpath link to the village, but the location next to the hall and playing fields is perfect for bringing in passing trade and providing refreshments to the local clubs and sports teams.
Westbury’s paid manager; Hellen is a fantastic addition to the team at Westbury and thankfully relieved much of the pressure that was falling onto the Management Committee of the CBS and other volunteers. Recruiting a high number of volunteers still remains a challenge, but it has been rewarding to have committed staff and volunteers as part of the team.
Westbury Community Shop and Cafe have a good number of dedicated people on their management committee, but are aware of succession planning and their task to find individuals who’d be willing to take on these roles in the future. We discussed the feeling that you need to have knowledge about these kind of community businesses, a confidence that you could be part of committee and a supportive network who can help bolster the safety net.
The café is a lively hub for parents, visiting cyclists, families and builders working on a nearby housing development . While we were there, a volunteer popped into buy cake ingredients with her young family and the members of the village hall committee were in for refreshments too. The café has a thriving café society in the evenings with 48 members. This costs £10 per year for 4 events which range from comedy evenings to talks, including a recent presentation from a couple of luthiers (a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars.)
What’s clear is it’s really the people at the centre and behind the scenes that are critical to the survival of the shop and cafe. The ability to pay for salaried staff, the relationship the manager has with volunteers and staff, and the dedication from the committee is really at the heart of this community business. Oh.. and the fishfinger sandwiches are pretty top notch too.
Check back soon to read about our next stop, Tackley Village Shop in Oxfordshire…