When the village of Hampstead Norreys lost its shop and subsequently its post office, residents were deprived of important local services and vital community space. Deciding to take action, the villagers came together to set up a community shop and social hub – Hampstead Norreys Community Shop.
They found a new site, raised funds through donations, grants and a community share offer, and in 2011 opened the new facility. Run with the support of over 50 volunteers and with a keen focus on sustainability, the shop prioritises local produce and encourages zero waste. A majority of the village’s 800 residents own shares in the community shop and input into the shop’s direction. It has won numerous awards.
Transforming the shop’s offering
After a few years in business, other shops in surrounding villages started improving their offering, meaning that Hampstead Norreys Community Shop needed a new revenue stream to remain financially viable. So, once the team had gained a Power to Change grant, they built an extension and created a café, which provides extra income to supplement the shop and make the entire business sustainable.
Off the back of the café’s great success, Hampstead Norreys Community Shop has broadened its reach to the community through eco-friendly craft workshops, and even transforming neighbouring land into an orchard. As well as providing fresh fruit, the orchard acts as a community space for local residents, including children, to better connect with the source of their food.
“The shop and café has become the heart of our community,” says Jane Dipple at Hampstead Norreys Community Shop. “Since it opened, we have seen old relationships rekindled and new ones created. With the grant, we’ve protected this valuable community asset.”
The value of Hampstead Norreys Community Shop came to the fore during Covid-19, where it was a lifeline for residents who needed essential supplies. To ensure the community felt safe, the team set up an outside collection point and ran delivery services, many of which were offered by new volunteers. The café also quickly adapted its offering to continue trading with takeaway services, which meant that no paid staff needed to go on the furlough scheme.
Continually responding to the community
Hampstead Norreys Community Shop continues to evolve to champion the vision of the local community. It is deepening its sustainability efforts, hosting an annual Green Fest with 3,000 attendees, with speakers and stalls promoting eco-friendly choices. It also has started making links with the local authority to share its expertise on sustainability, and it has plans to expand its ethical offering by partnering with other communities around the world.