Life In: Urmston, Manchester, by Carla

We invited Carla Speight, a photographer, writer and PR to tell us about some Cool Locals in her neck of the woods. Carla chose businesses trying to create a ‘new normal’ in the leafy suburb of Urmston in Manchester. Over to Carla. Editorial note: this was written after #lockdown1 finished and sadly we are now, in November 2020, in national #lockdown2:

Local Economy Heroes

Two business owners in Urmston have come together to arrange a pop-up market aimed at bringing attention to the independent businesses in the local area. Mark Rackham, of the Barking Dog Pub and Gemma Marshal, of Gem’s Delicious Treats, have come up with the idea of hosting a weekly pop-up market. It’s designed to inspire the residents in the area to shop local and to continue to support local business. It’s held on the soon to be constructed M41 Market site on Railway Road and has already received a great response from the community, as Gemma pointed out. “Saturday was a huge success and it was super to see so many people enjoying the event. We really hope more people will come out and show their support over the next three weeks.”

Mark explained that this weekly event has a clear safety plan with a focus on building up the local economy again. “We followed Government guidelines closely in the development of the market and are confident that the format works well to ensure everyone can enjoy the event fully without any concerns about overcrowding or personal space. We really hope that these events enable local traders to get back up and running again in a safe and well-managed open-air environment.” They have worked closely with Trafford Council to ensure the entire event is Covid compliant and safe for all visitors and staff. The numbers in and out are carefully monitored to ensure that the event is able to enjoy the event safely. The event is already a hit with locals and the organisers are hoping it will encourage the Urmston community to return to local business in the future. More details can be found on their Facebook page.

Dancing the Lockdown Away

Lockdown has been tricky for many to feel like they could connect with others from a distance. This has had detrimental effects on the mental health of so many people all over the UK. But throughout the lockdown we have seen some wonderful people doing thoughtful and amazing things to inspire people to keep going. Karen Green of Urmston’s K & K Dance Academy has been one of the inspirations that we could all learn from.
Throughout the whole of the lockdown, Karen couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. Her love of dance and years of experience meant that she couldn’t just leave her dancing shoes in the cupboard. In fact, she encouraged her entire street to dust off their Sunday best and take to their front gardens at 2pm every week for a dance lesson. This proved a hit with her neighbours and on social media too.

Alongside the growing popularity of dancing on your doorstep, Karen has embraced technology and turned to teaching her students online. Despite the lockdown rules, Karen refused to allow this to stop her students from accessing their lessons and has used Zoom to keep their lessons going and keep their spirits up. She’s also been actively encouraging beginners to join in and learn to dance too. For more information about what Karen and the K & K Dance Academy are doing, and to view the truly uplifting videos of dancing on your doorstep, go to the K & K Facebook page. Do also check out this video.

It’s Important to Talk

Early on in the first lockdown, Sarah Steinhöfel from the Smart Bear, knew how vital something as simple as a conversation with like-minded people, could be to help ease mental health issues. Sarah is the owner of the Hive Mind Company, and she hosts a Facebook group dedicated to local independent business owners, and her weekly online chats have been a lifesaver for those who have had their livelihoods taken off them by the government rules.

Each week Sarah has created a theme and set up online sessions to tackle specific issues business owners have faced with the ever-changing lockdown rules. Her efforts have helped several Urmston-based business owners overcome the feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress that has been imposed on them with the economic uncertainty they face. Alongside her weekly chats, she has created monthly catch-ups that have provided a further opportunity for the Hive Mind Group members to get together and discuss worries. Plus she regularly posts motivational images and opportunities for the members to promote themselves or engage with the theme of the posts in the group.

Despite continuing to work, Sarah has taken time to encourage the wellbeing of local business owners and motivate them to embrace the time they have in lockdown. She’s helped them to not only come up with innovative ways of adapting their businesses but also encouraged her members to take the time to look after their own wellbeing too.
Find out more about Sarah’s inspirational work on The Hive Mind Company Facebook page here.

The Local Milk Man Brings More Than Milk and Orange Juice

Urmston-based Creamline was established in 1945. For several years they have employed the local milkman, who traditionally brings milk and orange juice. Over recent years they noticed that the older community residents would benefit from a few essentials such as eggs, milk, etc, and have been introducing and expanding this service for a while.
The lockdown has created so many more vulnerable people, there have been 2.2 million people restricted to shielding in their homes. They probably didn’t expect the local milkman to become a lifeline, but Creamline has ensured that this community wasn’t left without.
Creamline’s expanded range, beyond the daily essentials of milk, orange juice, bread, eggs, etc, is called the Best of Local. They offer locally sourced delights from butchers, bakers, deli’s, greengrocer, and fishmongers; a far cry from what we are used to. This range of products has not only helped the clinically vulnerable, but it has also helped support the local economy too. Their daily essentials range has also been expanded to include baby essentials, home and garden products, cupboard essentials, and drinks and snacks. It’s safe to say that your local milkman has embraced the lockdown and become an essential lifeline to many. For more information on the products available from Creamline visit their website.

Shocal Suppports Local

A locally designed delivery App, Shocal, set up in 2019, has seen an unprecedented rise in demand by both local businesses and residents of the Urmston community. When toilet rolls vanished from the shelves of the supermarkets, Shocal could deliver them within the hour. The panic buying saga that stripped the shops of bare essentials meant that the demand for the innovative shopping experience provided by Shocal grew quickly.
The app was created by Urmston-based neighbours, Max Thorley, a web developer for the NHS, and Ashley Warrington, an independent florist. They wanted to help independent business to compete with delivery giants and their ever-increasing commission rates. The ethos for their App is that there’s fair pay for delivery drivers and minimal commission paid to them, to enable small businesses to thrive in the Urmston community. Dentist to the stars, Lance Knight came on board to help make the idea of Shocal become a reality. Little did they know, his experience in scaling up business, became a vital lifeline that the Shocal app would be grateful for a year later.
The pandemic has forced many businesses to cease trading, and left their futures uncertain. Shocal has worked hard to save a huge number of businesses from going under. Lance explained, “We pay our drivers double what the big boys do. All the people that work for us now were laid off or self-employed and had no work. They’ve all now got enough money to feed and clothe their family and keep a roof over their head. We charge less than half the commission that the big players do. Supermarkets have such buying power that they dictate the buying price for farmers rather than the other way around. We’re not looking at bleeding a retailer dry. We’re doing the opposite. The whole reason that we set this up is to promote and boost their businesses.”

The most notable difference in the Shocal app is that it has the function available to order from multiple retailers in one delivery. If you fancy one kind of food for dinner and your partner or the kids want something else, along side a bottle of wine from one place and craft beer from another, you are able to do that all in one delivery.

Apps like Shocal have made it easy for residents of Urmston to self-isolate, with its many businesses available, this App leaves you with very little reason to leave the house. The drivers are all covid safe, wearing masks and gloves and delivering socially distanced. You can also order for your loved ones who are vulnerable, and their personable approach offers the opportunity to send deliveries and check up on loved ones.
To join the Shocal movement, you can order from their website and find links to download the app there too.