Bringing support conveniently to the local store

The story of The Shop that Talks: Community Bees run a monthly support and social session, The Shop that Talks,  directly in Haxby Co-op. 

Recognising that many people in society were lonely, vulnerable and needed support, and that everyone used their local store, Community Bees approached the Co-op, along with Dementia Forward to act as a monthly community hub for support.

At the same time the Co-op, who have always prided themselves in being part of the community, were looking to diversity and support their customers on a wider level. Colin, the Manager at the Co-op explains. 

“We have a diverse range of customers, struggling in different ways. We knew we had the footfall, we just wanted to offer a face for people, an opportunity to put people in contact with other people and supportive organisations.”

Community Bees has a table, chairs, leaflets from care providing organisations and most importantly real people who listen and advise. 

Some customers come for a chat, others with a quandary. Many are lonely and confused. It is not unheard of for people to break down and have a little cry whilst there. 

“The support from Community Bees is invaluable to our customers. They feel safe in the environment and manage to make connections they wouldn’t otherwise make.”

Some people are regulars, and some people are different every time, but in the 2 hour period Community Bees often support  up to 20 people.

They also host other service providers including Dementia Forward, Citizen’s Advice and Co-op Funeral Care. And the Local Area Coordinator pops in at times too. 

Pre-covid hot drinks were laid on by the Co-op. Now facing the 2nd Lockdown, there was a discussion about whether to carry on the service. Colin, the Co-op Manager insisted it was needed now more than ever. 

“This is a crucial time to support our most vulnerable people. Providing face to face contact and an opportunity to talk about issues they face is invaluable.”

Colin is also a big fan of Michaela. 

“She’s an absolute inspiration. The hours she puts in and the things she does, not just for individuals, but their families too, goes beyond the call of duty. She truly reaches the most disadvantaged, by supporting people other organisations wouldn’t.”
“She has so much passion and makes such a difference.”