Punchline Business and Community Champion: Shop 'N' Drop volunteer service boosts Stroud economy
By Matt Hall | 28th May 2020
In these times of crisis, people from across Gloucestershire have shown compassion and a true community spirit.
Amongst hundreds of projects and programs aimed at helping those in need, many people have been giving their time to collecting and delivering items for local residents who are shielded or self-isolating.
One particular group of young adults from Stroud have played a crucial role in fulfilling local requests through a scheme set up by Access Bike, part of Creative Sustainability, a local community interest company.
Having been trained and DBS checked, they were ready to get moving - so they developed a flexible, free cycle service offering responsive support to local businesses by helping them deliver their goods to the community.
And their voluntary efforts have not gone unnoticed, with Punchline awarding the team as its latest Business and Community Champion - an initiative backed by GFirst LEP, the Growth Hub, Gloucestershire County Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The cycle service, which extends to shopping on behalf of people self isolating and vulnerable, invites further interest from the local community to help respond to the range of challenges faced now. But looking longer term they want to establish this delivery service in Stroud to create local jobs for young people, reduce carbon emissions, keep the team fit and active and to support local businesses adjust to the new normal.
"We're so happy to have been able to use this fantastic community scheme...the service has been friendly, safe and super-efficient, and it feels great to support a local initiative that keeps people active and involved in these unusual times," said Camilla, a Rodborough resident.
Julie Loose, a local business owner added: "There is something joyful about the simplicity of a volunteer coming to collect the parcel and just taking it where it needs to go. Our customers are so appreciative."
Another fruitful partnership is with StroudCo; a non-profit online grocery service for Stroud whose core values are to choose local produce first, keep footprint tiny, support caring husbandry, and connect the local food economy. Volunteers have been delivering items on a weekly basis with vulnerable customers benefitting from a priority ordering scheme.
Having linked in with the Chamber of Trade's Welcome Back to Stroud Toolkit and tested their offer with several local businesses the team are now working on formalising and streamlining the service through specialised software and are consulting with other similar schemes across the country.
The team said that the Shop 'N' Drop service will evolve around what Stroud needs and how it will benefit the local community be it for the community and its business owners.
Tony Davey, from Stroud's Chamber of Trade said: "Many businesses in Stroud have adapted rapidly to the challenges COVID-19 has posed, and to the changing needs of their customers. They have embraced technology to allow more online transactions and provided new services (such as local delivery) that were not previously viable or a necessity. The Chamber are all too aware that the need for local delivery services will not disappear on 15th June when restrictions are planned to be lifted - in fact the need may grow.
"To be able to include the Shop 'N' Drop service into the Welcome Back to Stroud Toolkit for Stroud businesses is great, as it is likely to play an important role in keeping businesses that reopen in Stroud within the reach of their customers who may still need to self-isolate, or who simply don't feel it is the right time to return to the high street yet.
"This is an excellent example of how a volunteer facilitated service can work in harmony with the business community, linking those businesses to the social community they serve. Shop 'N' Drop will be a viable delivery option for a range of businesses reopening after restrictions are lifted, in addition to continuing to serve the businesses that have been delighted with it since its introduction."
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Punchline's Business and Community Champion Awards are sponsored by:
The Growth Hub Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire County Council
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