Residents in South Ribble are being urged to “help local businesses to help you” during the coronavirus crisis – with a new directory letting locals know what is on offer right on their doorstep.
Forty shops and services have so far signed up to the Help Penwortham website – which, although targeted at the town, includes dozens of businesses which serve the whole borough.
The listing provides details of how each firm has tailored the way they operate during the outbreak - with deliveries and diversification being the order of the day for many.
At The Ram’s Head in Longton, meals which are usually put on a plate and delivered to diners just yards from the where they are prepared, are now put in a box and dispatched all over the district.
Owner Angela Green said that she hopes the community will benefit from the decision to completely remodel the business.
“There’s no financial reward for us – we’re running at a massive loss, but people have looked after us for all the years we have been here, so it feels good to be able to look after them when so many people are like rabbits caught in the headlights at the moment.
“People are concerned about getting the raw ingredients to cook, but some people are not in a position to prepare food for themselves, so it’s good for them to have the option of having a meal delivered.
“We have cut down the menu size a little – simply because some things wouldn’t fit in the takeaway boxes – but most of the pub dishes are still available,” explained Angela, whose local Green Crab chain operates five pubs across South Ribble and Chorley. She added that the kitchen space and reduced staff numbers meant that workers were all able to socially distance from each other.
The firm is also providing free meals to nearby Longton Primary School, which is open for the children of designated key workers – and subsidised meals at the cost of a school lunch for other children, including free food for those presenting a pupil premium voucher.
Other businesses featured in the directory are also finding themselves appreciated amid the sudden need to focus on life’s staple goods – and where to source them.
Longton baker John Saunders usually makes his dough by providing bread to local eateries. But with their doors now closed, he has begun to offer his services to individual households.
“I’m happy to supply everybody, but I’m making my priority anybody who is self-isolating or who has children.
“So in spite of everything, I’m still doing what I love doing – which is baking and feeding people. Everybody is so grateful that it even makes the early starts worthwhile,” laughed John, who added that he is not currently experiencing any problems with obtaining his bread-making ingredients.
For Leyland-based taxi firm Avacab, their sole purpose - ferrying people around - appears more than a little fraught in the face of a lockdown.
For that reason, the firm has now partially shifted its focus to running basic shopping errands for its customers and delivering them to their door – but their core business has not completely dried up.
“Trade has dropped off dramatically, but we’ve still got some of our client base who we are taking to the shops for basic essentials,” said manager Philip Briggs.
“I think the deliveries will pick up in the next few weeks – so far, we have been doing more prescription pick-ups than food shopping, but that may change.”
Cllr Will Adams – who came up with the directory concept – said that the lockdown was proving a “different challenge” for South Ribble businesses depending on the nature of their work.
“It’s good to see businesses helping out local people, because that’s the only way we’re going to get through this,” said Cllr Adams, who represents the Middleforth ward.
“There could be some opportunity in adversity for these places, because it might make people realise their worth and what it is that they actually bring to the community.
“Hopefully, in future, people will carry on thinking more locally.”
Find the directory at www.helppenwortham.com