A FORMER youth centre in Leicester is to be leased to an award-winning social enterprise which plans to open a new store in the city.
Leicester City Council will lease the vacant building on Marwood Road, in Stocking Farm, for a nominal peppercorn rent to Community Shop, the UK’s first social supermarket chain.
Community Shop, which has seven stores across England, has recently been granted planning permission for the proposed new store, which would offer eligible members of the local community high-quality, low-cost food and household products, alongside personal development support.
It is hoped that the new store would serve an estimated 750 members and bring eight jobs to the local area.
Membership of Community Shop is open to people who live locally, receive welfare support, and are motivated to make a positive change to their lives.
Members can buy heavily discounted food and products, which is surplus stock and has mostly been donated by major retailers and manufacturers and may otherwise have gone to waste. Community Shop prices are on average 50 per cent lower than normal retail prices, helping to stretch family budgets further.
Money raised from in-store sales is also invested back into a community hub, where members can sign up for personal development support. Sessions on offer will include cook clubs, home budgeting, interview skills and business courses. The building will also house a community kitchen, offering wholesome hot meals to members and their families, and a large, new community space that will be available for community hire.
As well as providing the building, Leicester City Council will contribute additional funding of up to £150,000 to support the set-up of the new Community Shop.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am really pleased that we are able to support this exciting proposal. By working closely with Community Shop, we are able to help breathe new life into a long-underused building and provide a valuable new facility for people in Stocking Farm.
“Bringing vacant and underused buildings back into new use will be a key part of ambitious plans being developed for the future of Stocking Farm. It’s important that any regeneration of this neighbourhood meets the needs of those who live and work here, now and in the future.”
Natalie Brown, Head of Community Shop, commented: “We are really excited to be bringing Community Shop to Leicester, especially during a period when the support we offer is more valuable than ever in helping people through challenging times. We know the store will have a really positive impact on many people locally.
“We are hugely grateful for the support we have received from Leicester City Council and the wider community. We are looking forward to working closely with many more local organisations as we make Community Shop Leicester a reality.
"Anyone who would like to find out more about Community Shop and the opportunities available, via both membership and external support, should please get in touch.”
Details about the opening date for the new Community Shop in Stocking Farm will be made available soon.
In the meantime, individuals and families in receipt of means tested benefits are eligible to register for Company Shop membership here.