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Bythams Community Shop and Café goes from 'strength to strength' as it looks ahead to third anniversary

A community shop has gone from “strength to strength” since first opening, as it looks ahead to its third anniversary.

The Bythams Community Shop and Café first opened in 2020, and it has served the people of Castle Bytham and Little Bytham ever since the last community shop closed over 10 years ago.

The shop, which is managed by two paid managers, 52 volunteers and seven volunteer committee members, will celebrate its third anniversary in June.

Fourteen out of the 52 volunteers who have helped the Bythams Community Shop and Cafe go from 'strength to strength'. (63171710)
Fourteen out of the 52 volunteers who have helped the Bythams Community Shop and Cafe go from 'strength to strength'. (63171710)

Ingrid Goode, who helps run the shop, said the feeling from people in the area is “thank goodness we are here”.

Although the shop opened in 2020, it was a project of six years in the making.

In 2013, two shops that served the Bytham community closed down which “left a serious gap in the provision of services to those communities”, said Ingrid.

One year later, a group of “like-minded and determined individuals” sought to open a new shop.

In 2014, a questionnaire was delivered to 295 households in Castle Bytham asking them eight questions, which included asking the importance of having a community shop.

From the survey, 81 per cent of people saw it as very important.

The survey also indicated a need for basic groceries and a demand for local produce.

From a combination of grants, gifts, loans and a sale of shares to the local community totalling £250,000, the group was able to get the ball running to open the shop.

The Covid 19-pandemic halted the progress, but the shop was able to officially open in June 2020.

Ever since it opened the need for it has been “so high, it has taken us all by surprise”, said Ingrid.

She added: “The reaction from the locals is all positive. It’s generally what was really needed. I mean 10 years without a shop is rubbish.

“It’s going from strength to strength and we have a good set of community members.”

Ingrid also said it is “not all about standing in the shops” as there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.

“We do cater for a lot more than a shop and a cafe”, added Ingrid.

As they look ahead to June, they have a few ideas of how to celebrate.

At the time of its anniversary, Castle Bytham’s Midsummer Fair will be taking place on June 24 and June 25, so nothing big is planned.

However, the shop will have a big cake stall and tea tent on the grounds of the fair.

Ingrid added: “I think we’re going to combine it [the celebrations] with something like that because otherwise I think we will exhaust the community with the coronation, the fair and then that.

“We will have a banner over the shop which I am still to create!”

The shop’s committee is “beyond grateful” to all of the volunteers who help to make it the success it is.

Ingrid said: “It’s all about the small things everyone does.

“We are more than grateful for them all. Yes, the majority of people are going to be retired who come here and help, but there are still a lot of people who come and give time for their weekend when they work on the weekdays. To me that is above and beyond.”

People from far and wide who pass through Bytham are also “grateful [for the shop] because there’s nothing out there.”

As it looks ahead to its future, the shop hopes to take on more volunteers, despite its large number already.

“Fifty-two volunteers sounds a lot but it’s needed, and we’re on the cusp of needing more”, added Ingrid.

She said: “We still need to encourage people to spend a couple of extra pounds, because it makes a difference over the whole month’s spending.

“However, it is down to us to bring in new and exciting goods for people.

“We are not here to rip off the community, we want to be fair to them.

“We search for the best products that we can at the best cost.

“They [the community] still know we are finding it not a struggle I would say, but it won’t be as easy until we get out of the energy crisis.

“However, it is still stronger the more we go on.”

The Bythams Community Shop and Café is in Station Road, Castle Bytham.

It is open seven days a week from 8.30am until 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, 8.30am until 1pm on Monday and 8.30am until noon on Sunday.

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