Community springs into action to fight virus
A number of independent businesses in South Bristol have altered their offering to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic
by Charley Rogers
As the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic spreads across the world, stories of community spirit are keeping people buoyant. From viral videos of an Italian neighbourhood singing on balconies, to the nationwide ‘clap for our NHS’ that took place on Thursday 26 of March, an unfathomable and unprecedented situation is shining a light on the power of community.
This is, of course, also true of our very own South Bristol. Up and down the city, individuals and businesses are banding together to provide much-needed support. A spokesperson for the Bedminster Business Improvement District (BID), said: “Over the course of the last two weeks, Bedminster’s businesses have all stepped up and adapted with these crazy times we’re facing and have banded together to support BS3 residents.”
Businesses that have altered their offerings include the Tobacco Factory, who have set up a contactless drive-thru to replace their usual café bar and kitchen, which has been shut in line with government measures. The drive thru includes a pick-up spot in the car park behind the Tobacco Factory, where customers can pick up their orders. Orders can be placed either via Facebook or over the phone, and products include fresh fruit and veg boxes, recipe boxes for easy-to-make-at-home meals, pre-prepared food, and staples like flour and eggs.
Executive head chef, Charles Mooyaart, said: “We closed on Friday, after the government announcement, and we managed to turn this around in 24 hours. It really is a team effort, everyone chipping in with ideas. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my career – it was a truly inspiring moment, everyone really thinking out of the box and with the ‘let’s do it!’ spirit.”
Kask, a wine bar on North Street is also now offering delivery, transporting their wine across Bristol by bike.
Sarah, a South Bristol resident, said: “Small businesses have been at the forefront of this unprecedented time. Hugo’s fruit and veg shop, Mark’s Bread and Rare Butchers of Southville are amazing. Especially Hugo’s – they’re going that extra mile and delivering to those in isolation and the vulnerable, and are offering discounts for all key workers.”
Industry discounts are another popular way that businesses are offering support. Tim from For Mice and Men grilled cheese street food said: “We’re giving 50% off to NHS workers, as well as 50% off for anyone struggling without pay. We were also asked via Twitter how to help cover our costs for the NHS discount, which gave us an idea. So now if someone orders and leaves a tip and a note, we will use the tip to cover the NHS orders we receive.”
For Mice and Men is usually a roaming kitchen pop-up, appearing at Bristol’s various street food markets and other events. During the current circumstances, the company has switched to takeaway and delivery.
But not all businesses offering community services are food-related. Yogafurie, a yoga studio in Ashley Down, is offering free online classes since closing their doors before the government announcement, doing so to follow what they believe was the “responsible course of action”. Sinead, a Yogafurie teacher, said: “Since closing our doors we have uploaded a new yoga practice daily to our online channel on Vimeo for free. We are offering daily, hour-long yoga practices to anyone who would like to take part. We are choosing to offer them for free for as long as we are able to because we feel this is the best way we can support our community.” Those who are interested can register to receive emails via the Yogafurie website.
Similarly, Jacqui at Acting Out Drama is offering free weekly drama lessons for 4-11-year-olds, and drama stories that can be accessed for free online. Jacqui has been working with the Southville Centre, and said: “I wanted to shout out to the Southville Centre for printing lots of the leaflets that we could put through neighbours’ doors.”
Jacqui added: “It all makes me so proud and grateful to be part of this community.”
There are many more individuals and businesses across South Bristol that are offering support. A list of businesses with altered offerings is available at https://www.bedminster.org.uk/covid-19-community-response, and if you have access to Facebook, you can search your postcode and COVID-19 response for your local community group.