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Lockdown heroes - three amazing organisations

A couple of weeks ago I wrote to explain how we were affected by Covid-19 and the lockdown. You go back and read the article here. We're getting on track, and we'll have some news about our first range of coffees very soon.

But today I want to tell you about three businesses or organisations which I have been mightily impressed by during the last few months. All three are within a 15-mile radius of the roastery and deserve your support.

1 – Civic Square (www.civicsquare.cc)

I instinctively almost wrote “Impact Hub” instead of Civic Square, since the former morphed into the latter in recent months.

Somehow, even in the midst of a global pandemic, Imandeep Kaur and her team managed to put together a truly diverse set of talks, Q&As and workshops over six days in June 2020. You can see all of the collaborators on Re Festival here. I only managed to take in a couple of these sessions, but the expertise freely shared – and for free – was outstanding. And it was entirely typical of the work that all of the Civic Square team live and breathe.

I can probably do no better in describing the mission of Civic Square than to use its own words: “A bold approach to visioning, building and investing in civic infrastructure for neighbourhoods of the future.” You should support Civic Square with your time, money, and expertise. 

2 – The Clean Kilo (www.thecleankilo.co.uk)

I made a small contribution to the Clean Kilo crowdfunder a couple of years ago, in the hope that Jeanette and Tom would fulfil their dream and promise to make a zero-waste shop in Birmingham. And now they have two.

I was so impressed with the Clean Kilo crew because there was the potential for them to be seriously hamstrung by their USP and raison d’etre: the fact that they are unapologetically zero-waste. But, I wasn’t surprised that these go-getters came up with a plan of action very quickly. From memory I believe the shop in Digbeth closed, and the Bournville shop remained open for click-and-collect and then increased that to an outdoor market model to complement the click-and-collect. They moved incredibly quickly and I am very impressed at how agile they were able to be. 

They are now open in both Digbeth and Bournville with Covid-19 protection measures in place. Go and support them with your money! And if you have designs on your zero-waste store, then you might be interested to know that they are consultants, too.

 3 – Orchard Hills Bakery, Aldridge (On Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/orchardhillsorganicbakery/)

Dave and Michelle run Aldridge’s own little craft bakery, selling amazing loaves and cakes. In a short period of time they have a cult following – or at least as close as you can get to a cult following in sleepy Aldridge! 

When the lockdown started the shop shut immediately, but after a few weeks there were plans in place for a local delivery service twice a week. That’s not an easy task for a business that doesn’t have home delivery baked into (ahem) the business model, and whose product does not lend itself to easy packaging. But they ploughed on regardless, and got themselves back to work for the benefit of the local community.

The shop finally re-opened a fortnight ago, to little fanfare but big queues. And I overheard Michelle reassuring a customer that if she didn’t feel comfortable venturing out yet then the deliveries could still go out to her. I do believe that at the time of writing that remains a standing offer to all customers (pre-order by Sunday for Thursday delivery). You can contact the bakery through their Facebook page here. My recommendations? The sunflower and pumpkin seed sourdough loaf, and Michelle's Bakewell tart. Both are amazing!

And hundreds more

I am certain that there are hundreds more businesses and organisations that could be praised here, but these are three that have stood out for me. Think about supporting all three of them where you can. They deserve it. But feel free to let me know about the ones that you think I've missed - I'd love to hear about them.