Lockdown local heroes

By Indie Cambridge Anne Beamish, Founder of Indie Cambridge, shares and celebrates some of the amazing stories she has come across recently of how members of the local indie community are not only helping each other, their local communities and frontline NHS staff, but also showing us all now, more than ever, how crucial localism is and how hopefully, it will be the way forward for a better world and a better way of life.

She writes:

Indies to the rescue

First up, we want to say a huge thank you to local indie businesses who answered our call for help to get the latest issue of our publication - The Indie  - out to our readers. Our usual routes to distribution were locked-out in the lockdown, but with the support of the following people and companies, we are now getting copies out at an incredible rate and who knows, possibly to a completely new audience, so massive thanks to Neil at Cambridge Fruit Company, Kelly at Cambridge Juice Co, Daniel at Mill Road Butchers, Clare at Burwash Larder, Hal at Cambridge Wine Merchants, Rob from OliveOlive, Noel at NYWines, Rory from Fired Up Pizza, Kieran at CambridgeBBQ and Pascky at The Plough Coton.

Tackling food poverty

Cambridge – the most unequal city in the UK, and the current lockdown is only making the picture more extreme. Local councillor Alex Collis is spearheading one of the efforts in the city to help distribute food to those in need, and I've been helping out (hence the hairnet!). So too have local indie heroes including Andrew from The Garden Kitchen, who has pitched up every week of the project so far, to help cook meals for 100s of families. Also lending a helping hand have been Leo from Steak & Honour, Jack of Jacks Gelato, Rosie Sykes and Kath of Kath's Kitchen. What a team! Thanks also to our printer Langham Press for a very generous donation of Easter eggs – a special treat for local children.

Over at Neil's yard

If you're at all plugged into the local scene on social media, you'll no doubt have come across the incredible journey of Cambridge Fruit Company and its owner Neil Bharadwa. From having to completely change his operation from business to consmer-led overnight, because of Coronavirus, through to delivering donated fruit boxes to NHS staff and local charity The Red Hen Project – when does he ever sleep! Local photographer Jemima Willcox created this great video telling Neil's story.

Mask makers

Katie Benson from The Cambridge Fabric Company and Kath Goodwin from Make Cambridge have joined forces to help coordinate and contribute towards NHS national shortage of resources - masks, scrub bags and scrubs. Kath has designed the patterns/instructions and Katie is supplying the materials and making up the kits at home. If you have sewing skills (basic for the masks and scrub bags, more advanced for scrubs), and want to get involved, email either Katie at info@thecambridgefabriccompany.com or Kath at info@makecambridge.co.uk

If you want your own, ready-made mask, Jane Horwood of Catfish Web Design is making them and raising money for the NHS in the process. She's teamed up with a friend and several sewing bees, to make masks (intended for community use only – for those essential trips out, instructions on using the masks are also provided). They are asking for a suggested donation of £4 for each mask plus postage. If people live locally (to Haslingfield) they can collect. So far, Jane and the team have raised over £1000 in two weeks. To place an order, email Jane Horwood at info@catfishwebdesign.com

Credit to our indie key workers

A small personal story to illustrate how we have come to (hopefully) appreciate all of those people working at this current time – be they NHS staff, shop workers or those we rely on to grow and pick our fresh produce. Local guy, Will Sutton, works at Hilary's Greengrocers – on the corner of my street and Mill Road. When I spoke to him recently, he was exhausted, and he said, "I used to be just a guy who worked at a greengrocers, now I'm a key worker. I hope people remember that." I hope so too. I'd also like to include in this the amazing teams at Burwash Larder and Country Kitchen in Haslingfield who are all working like crazy in difficult circumstances. You are all heroes!

A clap for the council

Grants are available to some small businesses to help with the current situation, and we know some of our members have already received the money, so well done Cambridge City Council and other local authorities, for getting the funds out quickly. Currently, there are two grants for businesses who already qualify for rate relief:
1. Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) If your business is based in England and on the 11 March 2020 was eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief or the Rural Rate Relief, you could receive a cash grant of £10,000.
2. Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant fund (RHLGF). Properties, based in England, which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the Business Rates Expanded Retail Discount scheme will be eligible for this grant as follows:
rateable value of £15,000 and under - £10,000
rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 - £25,000
For more detailed information, click here.

Indie Cambridge members CKLG AccountantsPrice BaileyWebsters Cambridge Ltd and Weir Associates are all keeping up to date with government directives for small businesses, and all have free, and very useful, information on their websites.

Stay safe everyone!