- 25 Post Office branches across England chosen as recipients of a grant worth up to £10,000
- Recipients won funding as part of the Community Enterprise Fund
- Projects will support for their outstanding plans to support local people and businesses and to tackle isolation amongst the elderly
25 Post Office branches across England were today chosen as recipients of a grant worth up to £10,000 from the Community Enterprise Fund for their outstanding plans to support local people and businesses, and to tackle isolation amongst the elderly.
The Fund was launched in July asking the public to suggest projects their Post Office could start up to benefit the community. Many members of the public spoke with their local branch to propose ideas to the Fund.
Each of these branches, which were announced by Minister for Communities Stephen Williams, will receive the funds to make their idea a reality. Proposals include providing free Wi-Fi access and IT training, developing community apps and websites which point to local services and a scheme to protect elderly and vulnerable people during wintry weather, by keeping them in touch with neighbours, local services and charities.
Stephen Williams said:
“The millions of people visiting branches to post cards and parcels at the moment remind us of the huge community role the Post Office plays, but this will not just stop in January, it goes on all year round. Post offices are becoming community hubs, getting local people and businesses involved with each other, learning new skills, and sharing information and today is a big step forward with 25 areas becoming even more active.
“Christmas is a time when people can feel particularly isolated and the problem is most acute amongst the elderly so whilst all these schemes will benefit the whole community I also want to congratulate those schemes that are in particular aimed at helping the elderly.”
Over 100 Post Offices put forward their ideas to help their communities. The initial aim was to fund up to 20 schemes, but the quantity and quality of the proposals meant that 25 have been successful. Funding from the Cabinet Office for proposals which specifically address isolation enabled the additional schemes to be supported. All nominations were for projects that were not-for-profit, but which provided a service or activity which was easily accessible and open to all.
Paula Vennells, Post Office Chief Executive said:
“The Post Office is at the heart of communities across the country and our sub-postmasters understand how they can make a real impact on their customers’ lives. The Community Enterprise Fund builds on this unique role, enabling 25 branches to provide additional services designed around the needs of local people and businesses, such as helping the elderly to access support during cold winters and giving people access to the internet and computer training.”
Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:
"Post Offices have a special place in the community. So we welcome this opportunity to support great ideas that show how post offices can bring people together to tackle social problems like isolation.”
In many places in England, particularly within more rural areas, Post Office branches already play a role in the community which goes beyond offering the services such as government transactions, financial and postal services.
A branch in the Cotswolds for example provides free internet access. Another in the North East is based in a disused pub and combines internet access with a health centre and a nursery. Over 99% of the population live within three miles of a Post Office.
Around 18 million customers a week and around a third of all small businesses use the Post Office each week. 99.7% of people live within three miles of their nearest Post Office outlet with 93.1% within a mile.
The Post Office already provides 170 different services and products spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards. It also offers telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.
The 25 winning schemes are:
Build a workspace area within Post Office with a public use computer, develop an integrated community website linking different SMEs and community groups, and run training events at the hub to help SMEs and community groups grow their skills and knowledge
The winning scheme in Lesbury Post Office in Alnwick will create a new outdoor seating area which will act as a community hub. This will extend the Post Office’s current role with the Dementia Friends initiative, where it acts as an informal meeting space to share information and provide support for older, isolated people.
Tourist Information Centre
The winning scheme in Ambleside will work with LearningPlus, a local self-help group, to increase access to key skills training (literacy, numeracy, IT, and English as a second Language), using activities linked to Post Office products and services.
The winning scheme in Andover will work with parish council and the Enham Trust disability charity to create walled garden to provide accessible community space where disabled residents and those without gardens can improve gardening skills, gain horticultural work experience and learn about healthy eating, with excess produce to be sold in Post Office Village Shop.
107 - 109 Upper Commercial Street
The winning scheme in Batley will work with local charity to deliver key skills and IT training for disadvantaged, including older people and children, utilising space in the branch during non-opening times/days.
149 Alcester Road
The winning scheme in Moseley will promote the activities of the local Moseley Community Development Trust. Locals will be able to find out about services and offers through notice boards, merchandising, and screen advertising. The scheme will also work with Moseley CDT to launch a competition for young people to develop a new social enterprise, and support for the winner to set it up.
West Hall SAS
The winning scheme the in Brampton will provide a new computer with Internet access for local community groups in the West Hall village hall where Post Office services are currently provided. This will enhance the village hall’s role as the only community hub for Brampton.
16 Beatty Avenue
The winning scheme in the Coldean Post Office in Brighton will open a charity shop and community hub next to the Post Office to offer classes and services. It will be managed by a local group, including the Post Office sub postmaster, who will also offer practical support in running the shop.
11 The Causeway
The winning scheme in Burwell will create an electronic notice board to advertise and signpost people to local social enterprises, and promote local events and other services. Working with two local social enterprises the scheme will also provide various training and work opportunities for disadvantaged groups.
25 Denmark Hill
The winning scheme in Camberwell Green will establish the Post Office as a community hub with a host of activities to help various local groups in Camberwell. It will offer social media training for SMEs, support for locals to get involved in neighbourhood planning, and an opportunity for local artists to exhibit and network via a pop-up gallery space.
7 Cleeve Road
The winning scheme in Cheltenham will establish IT facility including broadband, PC and IT skills training provided by local community, and a resource centre where elderly people or mothers with young children can learn new craft/hobby skills
The winning scheme in the Bache Post Office will work with local voluntary organisation to develop 'Snow Angels - Altogether Upton' scheme to support for older and vulnerable people in severe weather, by linking them to neighbours, voluntary organisations and public services, both to prevent illness and winter deaths and address social isolation
Youth Centre The Old School House, High Street,
The winning scheme in Doncaster will establish a community space in the Post Office for workshops, crafts and other activities, including for the elderly to reduce isolation.
Godshill, Isle of Wight
The winning scheme will develop Godshill Post Office as a community hub to reduce the isolation of older people.
26 Park Lane
The winning scheme in Havant will create a free Wi-Fi network around the Post Office for 800 homes to increase digital access and tackle isolation of the local community. It will include a private web portal for the community where they can find out about a range of community-centred features and services.
42 Main Road, Bamford,
The winning scheme in the Bamford Post Office in Hope Valley will create a community café within the community-owned Post Office, which will act as a hub of activities to bring local residents and businesses together. It will offer space for local artists to display their work, local meetings for businesses and internet access for the community.
The winning scheme will refurbish the Welwyn Park Post Office to provide a community meeting space and hub for residents of Hull. It will provide access to IT, support in life and work skills for older people and the vulnerable or unemployed. It will also host arts and crafts workshops for the community.
5 Hangsman Lane
The winning scheme in Hull will work with local football club to involve older men in community activities including IT skills, health advice and exercise
The winning scheme in Broom State Post Office will work with local charity to deliver key skills and IT training for disadvantaged, including older people and children, utilising space in the branch during non-opening times and days.
13 The Parade
The winning scheme in Mickleover will put up video screens to display advertisements for local community groups.
The winning scheme will see the installation of a digital booth in Amble Post Office to offer private IT access and skills training, with support from local Digital Champion volunteers.
Improve Internet and ICT provision in social enterprise-run Post Office, to enhance community hub and support more residents to access services and information, and seek employment
Royal Wootton Bassett
33 High Street
The winning scheme in Royal Wootton Bassett will provide Wi-Fi and tablets to establish an internet club for older people to address the lack of IT skills, financial barriers and social exclusion.
High St Stevenage
The winning scheme in Stevenage will work with a community centre to establish a base in the Post Office and a community run Internet café with free Internet access in the centre, to provide training and support to local people. This would be promoted through community notice boards.
As part of their winning scheme Walthamstow Post Office will work with local community organisation, Significant Seams, to develop local apps as a virtual community hub which signposts people to community services and information.
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About the Post Office
The Post Office (Post Office Limited) has an unrivalled national network of over 11,500 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of communities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The Post Office has made a commitment to maintaining its network of branches at its current size and reach. It provides around 170 different products and services spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards; Government services; telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.
The Post Office serves over 17 million customers a week and a third of small businesses. Some 99.7% of the total population live within three miles of a post office and over 97% live with one mile of a post office. For many rural communities, the post office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices branches remain highly valued and trusted, and are the focal point of many communities. For more information, visit http://www.postoffice.co.uk/.
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