Good Causes

Leicester shop helps struggling locals cope with spiralling costs

Tony Ward was working as a solar panel installer in Leicester when a suspected stroke forced him to give up work and claim benefits instead.

The 37-year-old admits the sudden change of circumstances was difficult, particularly when the cost of living is rising so rapidly. Tony said, “It was quite a shock. And the money from Universal Credit doesn’t always stretch far enough.”

Fortunately, Tony was aware of the community shop run by National Lottery-funded Leicester Community Benefit Society. Based in central Leicester, it aims to provide people with low-cost food and household essentials while reducing food waste.

Tony visits the shop every day or every other day, picking up bread, milk, fruit and oven-ready meals.

He said, “It’s not just important to me – it’s important to the community. With inflation at the minute and everything going through the roof, people on low incomes and struggling on benefits really need support like this. The staff are really lovely people and there are a lot of regulars who just drop in for a chat.”

Gill Coleman, a former volunteer who has worked at the shop for 6 years, said she has noticed a sharp rise in the number of customers in recent times.

The shop usually operates a membership scheme charging customers £5 a year or £1.50 a quarter to belong. Membership charges were suspended during the pandemic and have not been reinstated due to the financial pressure many customers are experiencing.

Responding to its customers’ needs the shop has started selling some items by the cupful – a cup of rice instead of a full bag, for example.

Gill said, “All the food is very low priced. We do have some things that are free depending on the amount we have. And we can refer clients who need emergency food.”

14th October 2022

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