Amid the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen PayPoint retailers across the country demonstrating their place at the heart of communities and going the extra mile to support those in need at what is a difficult time. It’s been amazing so far to see some of the initiatives and acts of true kindness being carried out.
About the award
In May we launched PayPoint Retail Heroes Awards as a thank you to retailers for their heroic efforts, our aim is to recognise retailers who are acting as a pillar of their local community.
Every month we will be selecting one retailer from the PayPoint network who has gone above and beyond to serve their local communities during the COVID-19 lockdown. This could be anything from offering a local delivery service, to creating a website so that customers can order online.
Each retailer selected will receive a certificate and £500 to donate to a charity of their choice.
Retail heroes of the month
Imran Hamid, Day-Today Express in Dennyloanhead, Falkirk
November's retail hero is Imran Hamid who runs the Day-Today Express in Dennyloanhead, Falkirk. He is working hard to support his customers and his community during these tough times. Noticing that all the nearby charity shops were closed and that fundraising was being limited he started a collection in store for the local hospice which supports the community and their families at the time when they need it most. He has a large Coke bottle money pot with almost £600 in it so far!
Imran and his brother have introduced a free home delivery service for elderly and vulnerable customers. Imran has offered free access to cash in store since the launch of the cash withdrawal service initiative as part of a trial to improve free access to cash in the area. The trial is going well, particularly since the nearest ATM is no longer available after 8pm and his customers love the convenience and security of getting cash from the store.
We would like to thank Imran for his continued support of his community. Imran has asked that his donation be made to Strathcarron Hospice in Denny, Scotland.
Mr Divyesh Patel, Tower Stores in Wallasey
This months Retail Hero is Mr Divyesh Patel, who runs Tower Stores in Wallasey. Since taking over the business in 2007, Divyesh believes that his community has taken care of him and his family. It’s because of this he believes it’s been his civic duty to repay their kindness.
To reduce the risk of spreading the virus he decided to close the store for several weeks and instead, started to take grocery orders over the phone, via WhatsApp and Facebook and deliver them to their door at no extra cost. They also would collect their customers gas or electricity cards to top up their customers’ accounts and returned their cards to them to ensure they wouldn’t go without power.
Divyesh and his family’s support went beyond their community. They ensured that no key worker in their local area went without a meal as they have prepared over 1,700 meals for NHS staff. Divyesh also teamed up with many volunteers to help supply meals to key workers in. They have also started to provide meals for the homeless in their community.
Divyesh has recently started delivering food boxes to key workers at the mobile and temporary Covid-19 test centres on the Wirral. We’d like to thank Divyesh and his family for their continued support to his community.
Divyesh has asked that his donation be made to Charlotte’s Brightside CLC in Wallasey.
Mr and Mrs Ford, Budgens in Barnsley
This month’s Retail Hero is Ron & Yvonne Ford, who run two Budgens stores in Barnsley and are a great example of what needs to be done to ensure the safety of their customers and their staff.
Their key focus has been on putting measures in place in and around their store to ensure that customers can freely shop in their stores while keeping to social distancing measures. Not only this, they have sourced plenty of Personal Protective Equipment to keep their staff as safe as possible.
Ron & Yvonne have also been looking after their community and have purchased over 250 bottles of hand sanitiser which they donated to the local hospice to help ensure patients, staff and visitors can keep as clean as possible.
The husband and wife team have introduced a delivery service to those most vulnerable in their community to ensure that no one goes without.
Ron & Yvonne have been supported during these tough times by their devoted staff and this support hasn’t gone un-noticed as they have paid their staff additional ‘Thank You’ payments for the help they have given them, the store and their community. Ron & Yvonne would like to thank their staff for their continued support and hard work.
Ron & Yvonne have asked that their £500 donation be made to The Barnsley Hospice.
Vinothkumar Kandasamy VSM Store in Andover, Hampshire
This month’s Retail Hero is Mr Vinothkumar Kandasamy, who runs the VSM Store in Andover, Hampshire. Mr Kandasamy and his small team have been working hard during these tough times to ensure their community gets the support it needs.
Mr Kandasamy has built a great relationship with his customers and has started to offer the opportunity for people to ring through and order items – they will also bring the goods outside if they don’t want to go into the shop.
We asked Mr Kandasamy about his experience since taking over the store “‘We took over this shop just 18 months ago and built everything from the beginning as the shop was closed 2 months before we took over. We would like to say big thank you to Mr. Martyn Parkinson (Head of Family shopper) and Mr. Steve Hazard (The Controller) who visited the shop just before COVID-19 and gave us lots of ideas to improve our business. We couldn't achieve this without their support and Booker team members of Eastleigh branch’.
At the start of lockdown, Mr Kandasamy was working extra hard, driving to the cash and carry to ensure his store was fully stocked so his customers never went without. Despite difficulties with suppliers, there was almost nothing he couldn’t get hold of and was able to provide a full range of fresh fruit & vegetables, fresh meat from local suppliers and even toilet rolls.
Despite the long days, Mr Kandasamy has been making sure his more vulnerable customers get their groceries by completing home deliveries to those in isolation. He also arranged for free copies of the local newspaper to be delivered to the community so everyone was kept up to date with local news.
His community have shown their appreciation of the support Mr Kandasamy has selflessly given with a host of thank you messages and feedback on the VSM Store Facebook page and village community groups with some saying they’ve not had to leave the village since lockdown began as everything they needed was available at Mr Kandasamy’s store. His actions and support to customers during this challenging time make him a worthy winner of this month’s Retail Heroes award.
Mr Kandasamy has asked that their donation be made to the Hurstbourne Tarrant Parish Council in Andover, Hampshire. Mr Kandasamy has also generously decided to donate an additional £1,000 to the charity, a true Retail Hero.
Abid Hussain & Clare Hussain T-A Top Square Convenience Store
This month’s Retail Heroes are Mr Abid and Mrs Clare Hussain, who run the Top Square Convenience Store in Treharris, Mid Glamorgan. The husband and wife team have been going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their community gets the support it needs.
Mr and Mrs Hussain are ensuring that children in the local community do not go without by donating a hamper to a childcare nursery who have no funding available. The hamper was then raffled to raise money for the nursey to ensure it could remain open.
They are currently offering a free delivery service for customers who are self-isolating within three surrounding villages to ensure they get the supplies they need during this tough time. They are working closely with their local councillor, putting together hampers of groceries and supplies which are then donated to local NHS workers, fire stations and other key workers on the front line.
Mr and Mrs Hussain are more than happy to help their community even though the store is run solely by themselves and having only been in business for 10 months. Their support has been invaluable to their community and it has not gone un-noticed with their local MP, Peter Vaughan, sending a letter of thanks for all they have done during the pandemic. The efforts they have gone to for their customers make them both true retail heroes in our eyes.
Mr and Mrs Hussain have asked that their donation be made to the Nursery Rhymes Playgroup in Treharris, Mid Glamorgan.
Mr Rekz Afzal, RSA Your Local Shop, Paisley.
This week’s winner, Rekz, runs a stigma-free food bank for the local community from his store in Paisley, Refrewshire. The food bank, which he donates to personally, helps those who are unable to get out, the elderly and people facing financial difficulty. In a typical week, 120 people will use the food bank.
Not content there, Rekz has set up a care convey to transport food packages to the those who can’t physically get to the food bank. He has called upon all locals within his community who have their own transport to help make deliveries (which are free of charge) to those stranded.
Rekz has been encouraging other shops and business to get involved and pull together during the health crisis. The reaction to Rekz’s free food bank has been incredible and businesses and locals alike have all got involved by making donations and helping to volunteer. A local member of the community has donated £500 to the shop for the food bank so that Rekz can buy more fruit/veg and fresh products.
The welfare service which Rekz runs for those in hardship has previously been recognised by The Provost of Renfrewshire and by MPs and MSPs.
Those wanting to volunteer are urged to get in touch with Rekz at his store, where all donations are welcomed.
Rekz has decided to make his £500 donation to Eat Up Charity in Glasgow.
Mrs Dancy Stephen and Mr Nallanthamby Suthkaran, Midlands
This week’s Retail Heroes are Mrs Dancy Stephen and Mr Nallanthamby Suthkaran, who jointly run three sites in the Midlands and have been working hard to ensure the safety of their staff during these tough times to enable them to continue to give their community the support they need.
Across their stores they have installed safety screens to protect staff as well as fitting sinks near the till area to allow staff to wash their hands regularly. Alongside these safety measures they have made personal protective equipment readily available for staff to help that little bit more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have supported their community by donating food to families they know are vulnerable and delivered groceries to those unable to get to their store. They have also been sourcing additional essential items they would not normally stock to help their customers who would otherwise struggle to access these items.
Dancy and Nallanthamby have always been supportive of their community by regularly donating food and drink to local homeless charities, not just during the pandemic. For the past four years they have also been running a foundation that supports seven preschools in Sri Lanka.
Dancy and Nallanthamby have asked that their donation be made to The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham.
Mr Daljit Singh, Coolfoods in Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan
Our second Retail Hero is Daljit, who runs six sites in Wales and has been going above and beyond to support his community during these times.
Across his stores he employs over 30 members of staff who work tirelessly and Daljit would like them to know how grateful he is for their continued support. All six stores are operating normal opening hours to ensure his community can get what they need.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has gone the extra mile by making supply runs to local NHS hospitals with tea, coffee and soft drinks for the hard-working doctors and nurses as well as patients in their care.
Alongside this, Daljit has been making sure his more vulnerable customers are still able to get groceries by offering free deliveries to those unable to leave their homes due to isolation or disabilities.
And it’s not just during these tough times where Daljit supports his local community, during winter months Daljit provides coats, sleeping bags and blankets to the homeless and helps poorer members of his community all year round.
Dajit's has asked that his donation be made to the Prince Charles Hospital, Children's Ward and he has decided to match this donation. The actions of a true 'hero'.
Mr Amothen Kandasamy, Premier Dyce, Aberdeen.
Our first hero is Amothen, who runs five convenience stores in Aberdeenshire and is very busy serving and supporting his local communities at this time.
Across his five stores he employs 23 staff, five full time, and works longs days balancing trips to the cash and carry and shifts at every store. All his stores are trading normal opening hours and he says that business is doing well and that his customers have remained loyal and appreciative of his efforts to keep and supply them with what they need.
Amothen has recently started Amazon parcel collection at his Bucksburn store and is also looking forward to launching the Deliveroo food delivery service to further support his customers in the community.
During this crisis, Amothen has sourced and supplied toilet roll at affordable prices, and is happy to help his regular customers with free items such hand sanitiser, bread and milk if they are struggling or are in desperate need. He also supported welfare payments from Aberdeen City Council in the form of Cash Out vouchers.
Right now, a typical day sees Amothen closing his stores at 11:00pm before doing 40-50 free-of-charge deliveries of essential items to the elderly and finishing between 3:00 – 4:00am. That makes Amothen a true ‘hero’ in our eyes.
Amothen has decided to make his £500 donation to Bucksburn Academy Friends of ASN Wing.