Holne Community Shop & Tea Room is owned by the community, for the community and provides not only services but a valuable place for social interaction.
The social enterprise received a loan from Charity Bank to assist with the purchase of its premises. Gilly Simpson shares how important the shop and tea room have been to their rural community.
“The premises for the community shop and tea room were built by a local couple back in 2008 and it was run by another local woman for quite a few years before she decided to retire. No-one else was in a position to take it on as a business, but the community didn’t want to see this important social hub disappear. We joined forces with members of nearby Scorriton village and together formed a committee, taking responsibility of running the shop and tea room for the benefit of our wider communities.
“We are in a beautiful part of the world in Dartmoor National Park, but it is also very rural and remote. The community shop and tea room has proved an invaluable resource. Not only do tourists who are walking or cycling in the park flock to the tea room, it provides a great meeting place for various members of the community. It provides a real lifeline for certain people who might otherwise struggle with loneliness and isolation.
“The shop is entirely run by volunteers; our eldest is 94 and loves coming in for a few hours a week to chat to people. She’s also got the sharpest math skills among us! The tea room has a mixture of volunteers and paid employees. We offer employment and volunteer opportunities to lots of the young people in the area, helping them to get experience in the world of work or gain volunteer hours towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards, for example.
“In 2014, the landlord was moving away from the area and wanted to sell the premises. We managed to raise the bulk of the money from selling community shares but required some extra funding. Charity Bank offered us a loan and were brilliant. Some challenges and unexpected difficulties came up along the way, but Charity Bank remained supportive and flexible throughout.
“To everyone who saves with Charity Bank and made our community project possible, I’d say thank you and please continue to save with them because your money really is doing good. We would never have been able to make this a reality without the support of Charity Bank and its savers. In a rural area like ours, it’s so important to have a place like this for people to come and socialise. The shop and tea room are at the heart of our community now.”