Wednesday, 15 June 2011

National Lottery Awards - Humshaugh Village Shop

The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects. Lottery players raise around £28 million each week for Good Causes. Thousands of great projects get the cash they need to make a real difference to people and their local communities across the UK. Public voting for the semi-finals of The National Lottery Awards is now open.

The three projects in each category with the most votes will progress to the final round of public voting, which will run from 5 September - 23 September. I urge everyone to support Humshaugh Village Shop.
I have long championed this fantastic community project and they have already come to Westminster where I welcomed them for the Countryside Alliance awards.

Please join me in voting for them by clicking here you can see their bid and the great story behind this true community project below...

Humshaugh Village ShopCategory: Best Voluntary/Charity project
Funding amount: £7,500
Website: Hexham
The story:
When the local post office in the small village of Humshaugh closed early in 2009, residents were concerned that the local shop, which shared the premises, would be next. “We were worried that without a shop, people would stop moving here and the village would become dormant,” recalls Humshaugh Community Ventures Limited Chairman Dick Moules. The community had already fought a tough but unsuccessful fight to stop the Post Office closure so the villagers decided the only thing to do was to band together again to save their shop.

Contributions from local supporters and a grant from the Lottery helped pay for the lease and refurbishment of the shop, and in November 2009, Humshaugh’s local store reopened as a shop run for the community, by the community. Eighteen months later, and it is thriving. It sells a range of products including lots of local produce and even surplus fruit, vegetables and plants that villagers have grown in their gardens – the popular ‘crop for the shop’ initiative. “We’ll stock anything that anyone asks for,” says Dick. Dick kindly came to the Big Society event in February in Hexham and helped explain to others how the community had done it. Other local villages are now looking at copying the Humshaugh initiative.

I have been there many times and can testify that the shop has become a real community hub, staffed entirely by volunteers. “Their enthusiasm and commitment means we don’t require a paid employee,” says Dick. With over 50 people giving up their time to work in the shop for a few hours a week, customers are flocking. “It’s a chance to have a good chat with people, get the local gossip and talk to the neighbours you might otherwise not engage wit.”
The shop is now trading with a profit every year, and this money is ploughed back into the community, with profits going to new windows in the village hall, equipment for pre-school and afterschool clubs and an environmental project to monitor swallows in the village. The committee behind the shop is currently looking into green projects like using biomass and hydro-electric power, and were also recently able to save the village pub from closure, taking over the tenancy for a few months until a new buyer was found. “Without the funding we could be a village with no pub or shop,” says Dick. “It’s amazing how one little project can spark so much more.”