The Plunkett Foundation is pleased to announce that a community-owned rural shop supported by its hugely successful Village CORE Program has won a coveted award for best village shop and post office in the South West of England.
Berrynarbor is a small village located on the North Devon coast. In 2004 the community faced the prospect of losing the village shop and post office when the postmaster retired. Residents decided to take action and formed a co-operative to save the shop. As Alex Parke, of Berrynarbor Community Shop and Post Office explains, the shop and post office are “one of the key facilities, the heart of any village” and a future without them was unthinkable.
Berrynarbor is one of over 190 community-owned rural shops in the UK and this number is growing by around 20 each year. The shops come in various shapes and sizes, reflecting the needs of the community in which they are based. Some, like Berrynarbor, are based in purpose-built premises whilst other are based in previous shops, village halls, portacabins, churches and pubs. The Plunkett Foundation supports rural communities wanting to set up and run a community-owned rural shop, providing practical assistance through a network of community retail advisers, its web site, various publications and a national office.
Berrynarbor Community Shop and Post Office has gone from strength to strength. After four years of dedicated and determined fundraising and planning, and with financial support and advice from the Village CORE program, the shop moved into purpose-built premises in 2008. It continues to be staffed by nearly 30 volunteers, who, along with the shop’s managers, form the enthusiastic team behind this thriving rural social enterprise.
The shop – which has a small café and plans to install an internet point – stocks a wide range of local produce, from freshly-baked bread and pies, to cider, ice cream and locally-reared meat. Berrynarbor is also taking part in a Plunkett Foundation-led pilot scheme to encourage shoppers to ‘Look for Local Food’ as part of the Making Local Food Work program, and recent figures show that approximately one third of the food sold in the shop is local. This reflects the shop’s determination to be an asset not just to the village but to producers, suppliers and the local economy as a whole.
The success of Berrynarbor Community Shop and Post Office over the past five years demonstrates what can be achieved by rural communities given the right support.