People across the country are being urged to think local first and help fuel the nation’s financial fightback from coronavirus by supporting local businesses whilst still being aware of the public health guidelines.
On the 20th July Scotland’s Towns Partnership launched its Scotland Loves Local campaign – in association with the Scottish Government – encouraging everyone to support the businesses which are at the heart of their home communities. The campaign seeks to remind all those living in Scotland that town centres aren’t just a series of buildings and pavements – they are made up of people – and harness the compassion and solidarity that was shown by communities during the coronavirus outbreak to help fuel the recovery.
Details of the campaign can be found at the Scotland Loves Local website.
The campaign follows publication of new polling figures which showed two thirds of Scottish residents intended to shop locally once their high streets reopen post-Coronavirus and that the successful future of town centres depends on support at a local level.
Businesses across the country have been working with Business Improvement Districts, Local Authorities and others to put in place arrangements which mean people can shop locally, but safely. These arrangements include the use of screens, distance markers and signage, the provision of hand sanitiser in-store and capacity limits.
It comes at a time when the need to safely and responsibly support town centres has never been greater following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many traders – some of whom have been at the heart of community response campaigns during the crisis – have been forced to temporarily close throughout lockdown, with customers instead turning to large internet retailers.
In launching the campaign, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP said: “It is now more vitally important than ever to consider shopping, eating and drinking locally as we all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery. Simple steps like choosing to visit a nearby shop or café, or buying goods or services from a business in your own community, helps support jobs and goes a long way to fostering the vibrant selection of products and services on offer close to home.
“By following the public health advice, we can all make exploring what the neighbourhood has to offer as safe as possible. I would encourage everyone who is able to head out and discover for themselves what living locally can offer them – I know that business owners at the heart of our communities will appreciate it immensely.”
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “The impact of coronavirus has hit our town centres and local businesses hard. Now is the time for us all to support them to get back on their feet in a way which recognises that we still need to stay safe and follow the public health guidelines.
“By thinking local first, we can help Scotland’s economic recovery from its grassroots, supporting our town centres within all of the public safety guidelines. The impact we can have by doing this should not be underestimated. The breadth of businesses in our town centres is vast. Whether you need a book, a pint of milk, a night out and a meal or some garden furniture, please think local first”.
“Scotland Loves Local is all about getting people back to their roots and recognising that our town centre businesses and the people who run them are part of the fabric of our communities. Sometimes for generations these people have been there for us. Now it’s time for us to be there for them. One of the great positives of the terrible times in which we have found ourselves has been the greater appreciation of localism. We must now harness that to keep our communities vibrant and lay firm foundations as we work to ensure our town centres are fit for the future.”
As part of the launch, I wrote a guest column for one of the campaign’s partners, The Herald (see full list at end) and reproduce it here: