The small village shop at Englefield near Theale in West Berkshire has taken-on a pivotal role in the local community; delivering groceries, collecting prescriptions, doing odd-jobs and checking on elderly neighbours and those who are vulnerable and self-isolating.
Andy Allen, who runs the Englefield Stores, along with his wife Laura and son Jake, have been taking orders from those in the village and delivering directly to their doorstep, even sourcing items that they don’t usually stock and helping out with other jobs that people can’t get out to do.
Andy said: “When lockdown came into place, we realised that there were many people in the village who were self-isolating and might not have family nearby to help them, so we offered to deliver.
“The uptake has been great and we’re now taking calls at all hours of the day with requests of what people need and we’re taking everything straight to their doorstep.
“We’ve changed what we’re bringing into the store too, to respond to what people are asking for. Normally, we wouldn’t stock much fresh fruit, veg and meat as there isn’t the demand for it, but now we’re getting lots of requests so we’re sourcing it from wholesalers and taking it out in the deliveries, along with store cupboard staples, newspapers – anything people ask for really.
“I didn’t think that at 54-years-old that I’d be back doing a paper round, but that’s what I’m doing some days now!”
Andy has also been helping out with other tasks, such as collecting prescriptions, posting letters, and sometimes just stopping for a chat.
“We’ve been checking up on people while we’re dropping off food to see what else they need, stopping for a chat from the path or knocking on the window to see if people are alright, and lots of others in the village have been doing the same and checking in with each other. The community has really come together.
“I think we’re usually all so busy, but now people are stopping to chat, shouting hello as they pass and contacting their neighbours more. It’s really brought the community spirit back to the village.”
Edward Crookes, Chairman of Englefield Parish Council, said: “As someone who lives in the village, it’s evident that Andy, Laura and their family are playing a crucial role in this community and managed to quickly and successfully adapt their business to meet the needs of many people who are having to stay at home during this difficult time. On behalf of everyone in the village, we would like to say a very big thank you for an exceptional service.”