Whirlow Hall Farm shop becomes lifeline as sales increase 400 pe cent since lockdown began

Whirlow Hall Farm Trust has seen a 400 per cent increase in shop sales since the lockdown began – which it says has become a lifeline for the charity.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 12:38 pm
Updated Friday, 15th May 2020, 4:38 pm

The trust provides outdoor education for children of all ages and young adults as well as specialist provision for children who struggle in mainstream education.

Much of its funding usually comes from events, fundraisers and its cafe but due to restrictions brought in during the coronavirus crisis, it has had to halt most of that work and rely on its shop.

Ben Davies, Whirlow Hall chief executive , said: "It’s given us real hope that, provided we can maintain that service, we’ll get through this thing in better shape than a lot of charities.

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"The shop is our source of income at the moment and it’s absolutely essential for the survival of the trust - not only to get us through the covid period, but actually the six months afterwards, which will be the crux time for a lot of small businesses."

The shop sells meats from the farm and other local produce, including baked goods, preserves and cakes.

It has had to adapt to protect customers from the coronavirus by only allowing one person in at a time, doing more regular hand-washing and lots more deliveries.

Kelvin Charles, commercial operations manager, said deliveries were not a key part of the business before lockdown, but they are now doing about 50 a week.

He dsof: "I think people have got a bit more time to come and see us and the deliveries have helped to reach people in self isolation.

“Also it's a nice environment if you are coming out to visit the shop and it’s open and low risk.”

Mr Davies said staff did a ‘fantastic’ job of adapting to the changes in demand and hopes customers will continue to use the shop as restrictions ease.

He said: “What’s troubling everybody is whether the customers will be there after the coronavirus restrictions have lifted, or if people will go back to doing what they were six months ago, which is in the main was shopping in supermarkets or online.

“Clearly it’s a major challenge for small independents like us.

"I think sometimes people get caught up in the pace of life and they overlook small independents producers and if people just spread their money around a little more, then they might find some gems.

"They’ll probably be surprised that shops like ours aren’t actually more expensive than many supermarkets.

“You can come and have a chat with a proper butcher about what it is you're planning to cook, what’s in season and what’s good at the moment, you can buy eggs that were laid yesterday or that morning and see a lot of produce that's made either within the city or within a few miles."

While all of their events have been cancelled, the trust is holding a virtual balloon race with big prizes to be won. It is £3 to enter and all money raised goes towards running their services.

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