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Barham Village Store
Tel: 01227 832991
A short history
In 1908 Barham, a medium sized village in the lovely Elham Valley, south of Canterbury boasted seven shops of one sort or another. A hundred years later in 2008 the last of these, a convenience store with a fully operational post office, closed for good.
Despondency descended on the village at the loss of such an important amenity but as so often in times of crisis the residents rallied round. The Nailbourne Community Store Association was formed with over 200 shareholders buying £10 shares and many added to this with further donations and long term loans. Further funding was obtained from Kent County Council and others and it was decided to buy a portacabin aka shipping container to house the post office and a shop just large enough to provide some of the everyday essentials. A tenant was identified and given a 5 year lease. However this was always seen as a temporary measure and in the meantime plans to rebuild the Barham village hall were put in place and within that rebuild there was to be a ne purpose built shop. A bid for over half a million pounds was submitted to the Lottery Fund and was ultimately approved in 2014.
By this time a new committee has been elected to run the community association the founders' work having been well and truly done. The task of this new group was to decide how the next phase could best be conceived. There followed a good deal of exhaustive research including a village survey and several visits to other community shops. The decision was made to create a true community shop run by a salaried manager and volunteers. Comparative financial modelling indicated that the previous structure where the association merely acted as a landlord of a relatively small shop was not going to be viable if a market rent was to be obtained. Furthermore the considerably reduced income to be derived from the new post office 'local' would distort the ratio of staff costs to turnover to a significant extent.
However the overwhelming reason for choosing the volunteer route was the huge benefit it would bring to the community spirit within the village. This has been proven to be a success all over the country and with fingers crossed and hearts in mouths the management committee canvassed for volunteers. Some 60 people put their names forward and already 40 of these are on the duty rota with others carrying out many other useful roles in areas such as PR, design, IT and finance. The biggest bonus came from Jali Ltd, a nationally renowned and highly skilled joinery shop in the village which offered to manufacture, free of charge, all the shelving and, counters for the new shop. In the meantime the committee has managed to raise almost £50,000 from external funding such as Awards for All, Kent CC and the Henry Smith Charity, from several fund raising events and from generous local donations
The new venture started on April 7th in the existing portacabin but the new shop will be ready in early August which has the advantage of the learning curve being a little less steep. Thus far we have had sufficient volunteers coming forward and they say that they are enjoying the experience. The Post Office has been particularly challenging due to system failures for which the Post Office and BT both blame each other. What's new! We have 3 trained post operatives, the manager, the chairman and the treasurer both of whom also serve as volunteers. We have also recruited a young single mum from the village who is desparate to find a job to and say goodbye to income support. This recruitment is part of our policy to give paid work to younger people in the village.