The leader of City of Wolverhampton Council has described a group of volunteers who run a community shop offering cut-price food to families in need as “true champions” as he officially opened the facility.
Cllr Ian Brookfield saw first-hand how people are able to make huge savings on their groceries and other household essentials at the Big Venture Community Shop, based in Chesterton Road, The Scotlands, during his visit yesterday (TUES JUNE 14).
The shop, which is open Monday to Thursday, is run in partnership with the city council and is available to anyone who lives in Wolverhampton to become a member and benefit from heavily discounted food, recipe ideas and advice.
Customers are reporting savings to their weekly food bills of between £30 and £50.
Products such as fresh meat, bread, fruit and vegetables are purchased from local suppliers and other products are sourced via the Fairshare scheme.
Supermarkets including Marks & Spencer, Lidl, Aldi, Asda and Sainsburys also provide surplus stock which would otherwise go to waste and is made available for free.
Customers pay an initial £5 membership fee and are then able to visit as many times as they wish.
Cllr Brookfield said: “As we all know with this cost of living crisis, things are going to get worse before they get better.
“I did not go to the Big Venture Centre to celebrate the fact that community shops and food banks are needed in society. I despair that this is happening in modern Britain and I will celebrate the day that they all close because people can afford to make ends meet.
“However, I went there to recognise and celebrate the people of this community, the volunteers who are true champions out there doing superb work to help people cope with these hard times.
“The council is working in partnership with the Big Venture Centre to run this shop and we want to do as much as we can to help the people of the city. So in conjunction with other voluntary groups out there, we are looking to open another six or seven of these community shops around the city in the coming weeks and months.”
During his visit, Cllr Brookfield also spent time with Big Venture Centre manager Karen Trainer who was recently awarded the MBE as part of the Queen’s Jubilee honours.
Karen said: “I was completely shocked when I got the award and it’s still sinking in at the moment. The centre here provides everything for the community from cradle to grave, we try and do as much as we can for the local community and beyond.
“We have tried to create a haven for the community, the new shop is making a hell of a difference as people out there are having to choose between heating and eating.”