Opinion: Keeping calm and carrying on – the village store shows its worth

John Ryan

Doing volunteer work in a village shop is normally a pretty relaxed affair, consisting of amiable exchanges with those dropping by and making sure you’ve marked up the papers for those who’ve ordered them if you happen to be an ‘opener’.

It’s a little different at the moment. At present, just like the big grocers, there’s somebody to guard the door – and sterilise it with a spray whenever anybody goes in or out – and only two people are allowed in at once. There’s also the now-familiar screen between customers and till operator.

For many, however, the shop is a no-go area. They are the self-isolating ‘vulnerable’ and the reason the shop trades for three fewer hours than previously is because those working a ‘shift’ in the afternoon prepare orders that have been phoned in by (mostly) vulnerable account holders.

At 5pm, or thereabouts, volunteer delivery drivers arrive. The shop reopens for an hour for those able to visit and socially distance and the rounds are then done locally around East Knoyle, Wiltshire, with food boxes being left on the doorstep.

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