With Easter just past and spring setting in, I have been looking for signs of optimism on the High Street – and been left wanting.
As chair of my local residents’ association I am involved in many tasks including sourcing prizes for raffles and for our family events such as a scavenger hunt and our Christmas party.
I remember as a child being dragged around the shops of Somerset while my mother asked shopkeepers for items for the school fete – either old stock, or gift tokens to be spent in their store. We would leave with armfuls of goodies to raise money for a worthwhile cause.
Things are different today. Smaller shops don’t have any resources. Chain stores will bat you about between store and head office, each claiming the other will help. So far only Matalan and Tesco have come good on their promises.
At least some places have said “no” nicely; Marks & Spencer, which used to have a budget for local groups, apologized that they no longer have any money to spare. A sign of the times, unfortunately. Others continue to deflect and defer. In the case of Argos, who are soon coming to Leytonstone High Road, and who we hoped might support the community with a gift voucher or two, they won’t even pay us the courtesy of returning our calls.
I know things are difficult on the High Street. But my group are working hard to find reasons to spend money locally. Why not support us and be part of that?
And if somewhere cannot help, they could at least have the grace, like M&S, to get in touch and say no politely, if not apologetically.
So my faith and hope are slowly being eroded. As for charity, it is defined as “Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.” I wonder if this concept still exists in any recognizable form.
These days, it is everyone for themselves. Pretty deflating, when all I want to do is make the community a better place.
If you have any raffle prizes to donate or would like to support an event, please contact me – email@example.com.