Kingsdon is a small village in Somerset with a population of about 320 residents, many of whom are elderly and unable to access facilities outside our locale. In the past four years the community has been devastated by the loss of the post office, the primary school, a special-needs school and the village shop. Jobs have been lost, as has much of the life in what was once a thriving village. Many residents are now effectively housebound and cut off from the community.
We decided this could not go on. People need people. So a few local residents approached Somerset County Council to discuss turning the closed primary school into a volunteer-run community shop and, eventually, a vintage tearoom. In March, after three years, they finally agreed to the lease the school on a peppercorn rent.
And so we got to work - a team effort of cleaning, painting, building shelves, sorting out practicalities, raising funds and speaking to local suppliers about providing goods for the shop. It was hard work, but collectively the plan came together.
Since the shop opened, the effect on villagers has been electrifying. People pop in for a pint of milk, and stay for a cup of tea and a chat with the volunteers. It has brought life back to our streets and reduced the levels of loneliness and isolation that many older residents suffered.
We believe that we have returned a sense of belonging and community back to our village in the short time we have been open. We are using the school playground once again for our children, having installed a basketball facility that is in constant use.
But there is still much more we can do. We would love your help to further expand our facilities with the development of the cafe. If you would like to contribute to the building work and equipment costs to get it up and running, please donate whatever you can. We look forward to welcoming you in for a cup of tea….
The Kingsdon Community Shop