Community businesses across the UK are making huge efforts to maintain and adapt services in the face of hugely challenging circumstances, and I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to you all for your incredible commitment to your communities and to those most vulnerable and dependent on your services – I am immensely proud to be working for Plunkett Foundation and the opportunity to represent you at this time.
We have been hearing a number of challenges our members are facing, not least, the forced closure of community pubs, but we are heartened to see how so many have adapted to ensure a level of service continues.
In the last week, however, we have seen a further challenge faced by community shops, in regard to accessing adequate supplies from wholesalers, to the extent some members are being forced to close. I want to assure you we understand how urgent this problem is and that we are working hard to resolve this, and have been lobbying at the highest of levels.
We have written an open letter to national wholesalers and are now in discussion with senior representatives of some of the largest wholesalers. We have also been raising this matter with central government, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Cabinet Office. A number of you have also adapted our template letter and sent to your local MP, many of whom we have been liaising with, helping them to add additional weight on to the matter. We understand community shops have long been getting the thin end of the wedge when it comes to dealing with some wholesalers and we are determined to keep up the pressure to get a better deal for the long term as well as overcome this immediate issue.
We do still need your help, however, as evidence is key to our lobbying and negotiations. we ask you, therefore, to continue to sharing your own experiences of supply problems and keeping it as factual as possible.
We are very keen to hear the experiences of all community businesses, whether you are a farm, forest or fishery! The Facebook Groups continue to be a vital tool for us to gather this information, as well as email so please keep sharing or contacting us directly.
Remember, our advice line is also open so do get in touch on any issue relating to community businesses and our Covid-19 Live Page is regularly updated with the latest advice and guidance.
Please do keep in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 01993 810730.