The idea of ​​setting up a charity supermarket in Greenbridge shows how mainstream retailers have struggled in recent times.

I don’t think it’s just the result of the Covid pandemic. We had a lot of empty stores on shopping parks and downtown long before this happened. But I’m sure the lockdowns and people’s need to self-isolate has accelerated the shift to online shopping for many of us.

I had to self isolate more than once and after recovering from a bout of Covid I felt very uncomfortable going to places like supermarkets. I’ve gotten used to having deliveries now for my weekly groceries and I order things online from Amazon or stores with online stores. It’s easier and I don’t have to spend money on fuel or parking.

That said, I do miss a good dig at a charity shop.

While I’m sure Cancer Research won’t pay what a big chain would pay in rent, I think it might bring people back to Greenbridge.

With more space it can sell a much wider range of products and no doubt some of the stock will be new unsold items from traditional retailers, as happens elsewhere.

And there’s always the certainty that the money will go to a good cause and help reduce waste by recycling goods. As long as the prices are good, it might make me want to visit.

Ruth King

North of Swindon

Free transport for young people leaving care

At Barnardo’s, we know from our direct experience supporting young people leaving the care system across the South that one of the biggest challenges they face right now is the high cost of transportation.

There are currently over 80,000 children in care in England and every year over 10,000 of them leave the system – and are expected to live more or less independently.

Living alone can be difficult without the support of close friends and family, which is the reality for many of these young people. From our rural areas to our major cities, it can be even harder to get around the region if you’re struggling to make ends meet.

That’s why Barnardo’s has launched its new Transport For Freedom campaign, calling on the government to support and fund free bus travel for experienced young people up to the age of 25 in England.

Extending free buses is a simple thing the government can do as part of its ‘upgrade’ program and would make a big difference for young people who have had a difficult start in life and need a little extra help.

Elderly and disabled people are already entitled to free bus travel thanks to the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. Given the clear benefits that free bus travel could have for care leavers, including improved access to employment, services, and reduced loneliness and isolation, we believe that there is a strong case for investing in a national program for care leavers.

We are delighted to have the support of Stagecoach for our campaign. We know there is support across the bus and transport industry, which is why we are also urging the public to sign Barnardo’s petition at secure.barnardos.org.uk/care-leavers- bus-petition

Lynn Perry MBE

Barnardo’s CEO

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