Over the first half of this year the Bradshaw family received a lot of media attention with their unusual New Year's resolution to live, as a family, on only British goods and services. James 34, Emily 29 and son Lucan (2¾) have now survived exclusively on British produced or manufactured products for 6 month, and they have an uplifting story to tell about the state of British industry from a unique consumer perspective.
The family believe that, despite what you may think, British manufacturing is healthier than it has been in years, there is growing and passionate support for British goods from both consumers and retailer and, if you know where to look, buying British is easy and fun to do.
They have also has some real surprises along the way too, for instance:
Counter to popular opinion, they have found that buying British food to feed the family has actually begun to work out about 20% cheaper than before they started their project.
There is a burgeoning electronics manufacturing industry in the UK making things such as TV's, computers, tablets and mp3 players. The irony here is that the British made products tend to sit at the lower end of the market while we import all of our high-end electronics from the Far East.
There is a high demand for British products abroad, especially in Asia and the Far East, because we are seen a providing quality and provenance by a growing number of people with disposable incomes in these countries.
They have seen first-hand a marked improvement in the promotion of British goods from high street retailers and the supermarkets in the past 6 month alone.
However, is is not all good news. The family have been in contact with 1000's of businesses and heard many tragic tales such as the dramatic decline of whole industries over the last 20-30 years as a result of government policy, iconic British brands beings sold abroad, and whole communities decimated by the closure/relocation of factories leaving highly skilled British workers unemployed. As if to highlight this, the Bradshaw’s bought possibly the last batch of domestic light bulbs produced in this country, thus ending a more than century of domestic lamp manufacture.
It is by no means the case that the family are anti-imports or indeed politically opposed to products made abroad, but in the last 6 months we have seen the horse-meat scandal and the deaths of hundreds of Bangladeshi workers producing clothing for the low end UK market. The Bradshaw's suggest that such catastrophes highlight our need to become more conscious of the origins of the stuff we buy as consumers.
The family have learnt to adapt their way of life over the last 6 months. They live entirely seasonally as far as food is concerned, have adopted a make-do-and-mend policy around their possessions and about 60% of what they buy is made within 30 miles of where they live. Such a life style has been compared to that adopted during World War II or, more comically, the 70's TV show The Good Life.
The family have been surprised by the level of support they have received, through their blog (www.britishfamily.co.uk) which receives over 10,000 hits per week and their growing twitter account (@britishfamily). They have been so overwhelmed by the response that they have unwittingly become campaigners for British manufacturing and farming, leading them to now organise a huge celebration of British manufacturing in their home town of Westerham, Kent (www.britishfamilyfayre.co.uk). This event is already supported by some great British manufacturing brands such as Ebac, Steelite and Derwent. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is also supporting the event as part of its Back British Farming campaign.
The Bradshaw Family have already proven themselves to be engaging and confident on TV, radio and in print and are available for comment or interview about the first half of their project and their campaign to raise the awareness of British manufacturing and production. Further details of selected past press can be found here: http://britishfamily.co.uk/press/