Grandad’s Front Room struggling to open as storage problems continue
The CIC, on High Street has frequently found itself having to choose between valuable stock and opening it’s doors for business as its battle for storage space continues.
“In order to help the people that we’re here to help, in order to continue having empathy and compassion for those that struggle, we have to take in as many items as we can and keep them in the shop. But that means the shop is too full or unsafe to let customers walk around. So therefore we lose our income,” said Danny Dawes, owner of Grandad’s Front Room.
Mr Dawes said the issue has gotten so bad that the shop has had to close for the majority of the week and staff have had to take to using the CIC’s van- usually used to pick up donations and deliver furniture to those in need- as a de facto storage space.
The issues have been ongoing since October last year, when the Community Interest Company first registered its interest in the use of an empty commercial unit on the far end of the arcade, opposite the pier. Unable to gain access to the unit because it had been earmarked for a project, Mr Dawes proposed using the unit on a rolling one month contract, a proposal which fell on deaf ears, despite the fact that the unit remains unused.
“In one email they sent me, they told me it would be used from September. I’ve been asking since October and nothing’s happened since. We could have been using it to benefit the people they’re sending us.”
What makes this more difficult, Mr Dawes said, is the fact that many of the residents Grandad’s Front Room assist are referred to them by Arun District Council itself. He feels the council are not upholding their end of the bargain when it comes to supporting Bognor’s most vulnerable people.
“We’re here to help people and nine times out of ten, we help people for free because we’re given items by the community to help people in the community- I’d say 75% of the people we help are sent to us by Arun District Council.” He said. A spokesperson for Arun District Council made clear that the council is ‘sympathetic to the issues faced by Grandad’s Front Room’ but ultimately unable to help.
“The unit in the arcade that has been mentioned has been earmarked as the location of a new initiative we are looking to support in order to help boost the high street.
“We were hoping this project would have come to fruition by now, but its progress has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, at the current time, Arun District Council has no alternative empty units to offer aside from those on the market to rent as a commercial enterprise,” they said.
Mr Dawes remains unmoved by this, however. “The last time they told me it had been earmarked was two months ago. So for those two months, it’s been empty. So we could have been using it for those two months to help the people they’re sending to us,” he said.”
To find out more about Grandad’s Front Room, follow it on Facebook.