Supporting local businesses & freelancers - a community lifeline

Some of us have the real luxury (in the circumstances) to be able to continue our normal jobs whilst working at home and isolating ourselves.

Many, sadly, do not. We know that there are the many incredibly brave and hardworking staff in the frontline of the fight to save lives in the health service, and also those who work to keep our country ticking over - the delivery drivers, supermarket staff, warehouse workers, and those managing the utilities, and many more.

But what about the self-employed, and the small local shops?

Some of the most heart-warming stories I’m hearing (when trying to focus on positive news) are the ways that local people are coming together to help each other. Because these stories are often local they may not get noticed or discussed, but if we share them, maybe they can inspire others in communities around the country.

Please share stuff here that inspires you and might help others. You do not have to have taken part, this is simply about helping us all feel like there is something we CAN do to help beyond simply staying home to stop the spread of the virus.

A little positivity can go a LONG way.

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I’ll start with this one.

A friend of mine is a local dad, member of my (now virtual) choir, but is also a self-employed photographer. Now that all his travel and work has been put on hold or cancelled, he has no income. So he’s found a way to keep working to make money, to record the current experience, and create positive memories for families by taking “lockdown portraits”.

Here’s his story. If you happen to be in SE London, let me know and I can share the details. If not, maybe share this with a local photographer who can maybe do this locally for you and your families

I am a local dad and a documentary portrait photographer.

Like many other self-employed people, my work has been massively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of my imminent jobs have been cancelled and it has been difficult to plan anything for the near future. I obviously can’t do my job from home.

Instead of sitting home and waiting for the current situation to pass, I’ve decided to take my documentary family photography through the window of your house by adhering strictly to the full social distancing rules at all times. I want to offer to capture this moment when our lives are changed by these unusual circumstances. It may sound odd but even a window itself can provide a beautiful frame for some candid photographs documenting this unique period in your family’s life. It can also provide a distraction in those long days at home with children and will definitely create some laughter!

For this photography session I am reducing my normal prices and offering the following package:

  • Up to 30 min of photography from outside your window (keeping a safe distance)
  • All digital pictures provided in high resolution
  • Post editing and online gallery

This package will be £50 and free for NHS staff as a way of saying thank you. I am also happy to reduce my prices for people in financial hardship.

Following government guidelines, I will only be taking one booking a day as part of my daily exercise and only locations within a walking distance of SE23.

As I said above, this is what I’m doing to try and make some income for my family during this period. I completely appreciate that this might not be for everyone but if you are interested to know more or would like to book a slot please email me

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Not exactly the same as above, but related, this is a local activity that independent shops and concerned residents have got together to arrange.

This is a fundraiser to create food boxes of essentials (vegetables, and other foodstuffs) for the NHS staff working at Lewisham Hospital.

They buy the ingredients for the boxes at cost through the connections of the local retailers, and get these to the staff in the hospital. The cost per box is £25 and so far they have raised enough for 200 (!!) boxes.

Maybe this is something that you could also help to arrange for your local NHS staff?

Thinking of musicians in particular, here is a wonderful collaboration to raise funds for Help Musicians that is supporting artists who’ve lost their incomes from cancelled shows, performances, concerts and more.

This is a video made by amateurs and professionals, and links to the fundraising campaign below:

justgiving.com/fundraising/whatfg

I came across two more sites that are recent creative responses to helping local businesses.

The first is an innovation, created by volunteers, that simply allows local businesses (that often have little technical infrastructure beyond their google business page) to create vouchers to sell that bring in much needed cash:

https://savemylocal.org/

The second, close to my heart, is a site for selling and distributing plants from nurseries and garden centres who were unable to sell their stock directly. There is a lot of stock going to waste, and plenty of folks wanting to do something in the garden, on their balconies or porches, so this seems a lovely idea:

https://plantsavers.co.uk/

(oh, and if anyone knows where to get hold of some courgette plants, I’ve got to replace the ones the foxes tore up in my garden)

Here’s another clever idea.

Two local activists have launched a clever kind of raffle to support local business.

They launched the raffle on raffal.com and they sell tickets. The difference is that for every £60 of tickets that are bought, they go to a new / different local business or freelancer and ‘buy’ a prize of that value to put into the raffle.

In other words they convert the raffle fund into local spending vouchers, but you have some gamification involved as you don’t know if you will win, or what you might win - plus there’s advertising and goodwill for those local businesses. Win / Win / Win

So far they have generated £13,000 of revenue (by selling £1 tickets) for these local businesses and they have listed 236 different prizes.

Check it out:

Maybe you can organise something similar locally?

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