Collyweston community shop could close unless more volunteers come forward

Collyweston shop
Photo: Lee Hellwing

Collyweston shop Photo: Lee Hellwing

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A busy village shop faces closure unless more people come forward to help run it.

A steady stream of customers visits Collyweston community shop to stock up on a wide range of food and other essentials.

But even though the shop is thriving, it will be forced to close unless more volunteers come forward to serve customers and help stock the shelves.

Members of the committee which runs the shop have set a deadline of the end of next month to find additional volunteers, or they will be forced to make plans to close the well used local amenity by the end of June.

Community Shop Association chairman Paul Johnson said: “The shop is a little gem and offers great community support to all sectors of the community.

“The shop is financially viable, and turnover, profit and footfall are up, but without more help the shop will have to reduce hours and this would cut income, making it unviable.

“Unfortunately there are just not enough willing helpers at present.”

The shop, in the High Street, opened in 2010. Manager Rachel Forsyth, who works 20 hours a week, is the only paid member of staff. She is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, currently numbering eight, but faces a constant battle to juggle rotas to keep the shop trading 60 hours a week.

Mr Johnson says at least five more volunteers are needed, and ten would be better, to help cover for holidays and other gaps in coverage.

He said: “A lot of people have other commitments. Younger people are out at work all day and have limited time in the evenings and at weekends. The majority of our volunteers are retired people.

“Shifts vary from two to four hours and we can be flexible. Some younger people are able to spare us a couple of hours a week and others with demanding jobs do a couple of hours a month, on a Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon, for example.

“The shop has had to close from time to time, but when that happens we are not taking any money. We tried closing on Saturday afternoons as an experiment, but we lost £600 so we cannot afford to do that.

“People in the village say it would be a real shame if the shop had to close, but they also say they don’t have any spare time to help keep it going.

“It would be a big blow for a lot of people, particularly the elderly, disabled and non-drivers.

“We have helped the village in other ways, too, raising more than £2,500 for good causes and donating a bench and defibrillator.

Volunteers qualify for a 10 per cent discount scheme in the shop and anyone interested in helping out is invited to call 01780 440830 or e-mail collywestonshop@googlemail.com