Businesses reveal incredible boost handed to them by Shropshire Council
A series of businesses have revealed the incredible boost handed to them by Shropshire Council through special grant funding to help the county bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
Several firms have spoken about the help handed to them by the council through the Wider Economic Recovery Fund which saw grants of £10,000 – £25,000 handed out as the third Lockdown came to an end.
The funding was open to all enterprises in the Shropshire Council area that could show that their activity met local economic need, were sustainable, would provide legacy and benefit Shropshire as a whole as the county emerged from the crisis.
Over 50 awards were made, revealing a wide range of exciting projects, innovative businesses and inspirational individuals within the Shropshire business community.
Ed Potter, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for economic growth, regeneration and planning, said:
“It is incredible to see the very real impact the grant funding has had on businesses the length and breadth of Shropshire as we aim to bounce back from the pandemic.
“As a council we are determined to do all we can to keep Shropshire the place to be for businesses, and this will show everybody how serious we are.
“To hear first-hand accounts from businesses means so much – these are real stories from real businesses owners and mean so much.”
The stories will be published over the coming weeks, and begin with The Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop’s Castle.
The Poetry Pharmacy is a bookshop with a difference and has already featured widely in national and international press.
Its founder Deborah Alma explains how, despite its appearance, the plan was always that the business would be so much more than a bookshop:
“We aim to be a national centre for the arts and wellbeing and have created our small arts venue or ‘social space’ where people come together to participate in an arts community, both locally and even internationally.
“It’s already proved very popular and we know it’s brought many new visitors to Bishop’s Castle just to seek us out. We have already succeeded in putting Bishop’s Castle on the literary map of Great Britain.”
Deborah has a deep-seated belief in the power of poetry to heal, console and inspire. A few years ago, she purchased an old ambulance and visited schools, libraries, organisations and attended events.
In a pastiche of a therapy session after asking her ‘patients’ a series of questions about themselves, Deborah would then ‘prescribe’ a poem or reading.
“I called myself the ‘emergency poet’ – it was primarily a piece of performance art, but it proved popular with hospices and dementia patients. I also worked with a number of charities, especially those supporting individuals suffering with loneliness.”
Deborah’s Poetry Pharmacy bookshop still offers ‘poetry prescriptions’ but also hosts workshops and events including reading groups and is developing a large poetry reference library.
The money from the Wider Economic Recovery Fund has enabled the business to purchase additional equipment and expand it facilities by developing the bookshop’s garden area.
“The grant has enabled us to improve our cafe space, with a new outside space for events and workshops, which have already started happening. We couldn’t be more delighted and grateful for this assistance”
Deborah also has exciting further plans for growing the business. She would love to develop accommodation space so that she could offer residential courses, explore additional innovative projects – eg making ink from natural materials – and continue to build on collaborative links and outreach work with charities, schools and the health sector.