RURAL SERVICES

ATLANTIC & MOOR LAG

£66,680.19 FUNDED

Marhamchurch Community Shop Expansion

Marhamchurch Community Shop

To build a dedicated community shop at The Square, Marhamchurch

Village shop at the heart of the community

Village stores have been part of the British rural community for generations but, like local post offices, they have become scarcer in recent years. Those that have survived the age of the supermarket have struggled to compete on pricing and variety, and many locals might only use their village shop in an emergency.  So, is there any future for a community store?

As a model for a community-centric hub, you can’t find much better than Marhamchurch Village Shop. Staffed by forty volunteers and two part-timers, the custom-builtshop serves the North Cornwall parish seven days a week. Designed by the community for the community, this store provides more than just groceries – it’s a lifeline, as Peter Green, Committee Member, explains: “It brings life to the village… it’s a social centre as well as a shop.”

LEADER funding helps combat isolation
Before the shop idea was made real with the help of LEADER funding, Marhamchurch was a village suffering from the same lack of facilities, support and outreach that blights many small populations. With plenty of hard work from the dedicated committee, investment was acquired, and a thoughtfully designed building was erected in the heart of the village. The impact has been huge, according to Peter: “It’s given us scope to be all we can be as a village.”

Describing the transformation, Peter explains that their first attempt at a village shop was a makeshift grocery stall, in an awkward location, that had limited accessibility. “It was a cramped space before,” he says. Now, however, the shop sits “right bang in the centre of the community,” which has made “everything more visible and accessible.”

A great location is one thing, but has the building lived up to its expectations? Describing the structure, Peter says: “Fabulous! More space, storage space, even office space.” And it seems that the locals have wholeheartedly welcomed this new amenity, too. “For some people, this might be the only human contact they get all day,” explains Peter. “But more than the human contact, it’s a place where people can be known and have conversations.”

The example set by Marhamchurch gives hope to other villages experiencing lack of community purpose and individual isolation, especially for older people. But there is even more to learn from this story, specifically economic prosperity in the toughest of climates. Peter describes the village shop’s “lovely economic model,” which he says is driven by the values of localism and community. “We don’t aim to make a profit, but where we have made profit, we’ve funded other community projects.”

So what does the future hold for the tenacious team behind Marhamchurch Village Shop? “We want to shorten our supply lines,” says Peter, “and use local producers.” The investment into the wider community is set to grow, demonstrating that with the right support and a passionate team, small can be mighty.

To find out more about Marhamchurch Village Shop, go to https://marhamchurchvillageshop.weebly.com

 

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