We would like to share this update from one of the local social enterprises in Milton Keynes, Branch-out MK CIC, with thanks to their Director, Theresa Wedderburn, for sharing the story of how the project has adapted to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis.
Read Theresa’s story below….
At the beginning of lockdown we felt like the rug had been firmly pulled from beneath our feet just at the crucial point where our flower season was starting to kick off with the daffodils and tulips opening up. The first couple of weeks were terrifying, all our wedding bookings postponed, events cancelled, talks cancelled, our newly opened shop closed, all service users locked down, staff furloughed, volunteers self isolating. Even our exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show which was a lifetime dream could not go ahead.
We didn’t know what to do as only essential businesses were allowed to work. As flower growers our crops are started off at least 6 months in advance. We were looking at a significant loss in sales and a huge amount of wasted flowers destined for the compost heap.
However a chance conversation with our good friend Billy resulted in the first Rainbow Posies being ordered. He felt desperate to do something positive and couldn’t bear the thought of all the flowers going to waste. He ordered 15 posies which he took to Milton Keynes University Hospital with a sign made by his daughters which were picked up by NHS staff. He ordered and delivered these posies every Friday for eight weeks during lockdown. We then had an idea to start up our ‘nominate & donate’ scheme whereby people could nominate a Keyworker (this helped them feel the community love and support) and the donation kept us going as a business. It also meant that our flowers were being used and not wasted.
We delivered a total of 250 Rainbow Posies over eight weeks. The promotion that we have received from this scheme, whilst not the reason for doing so, has been fantastic and we are having lots more flower orders. Sadly we also catered for an increased number of sympathy arrangements over the period of lockdown, many of the deceased having passed from this terrible disease.
Since lockdown we have worked non stop on our flower plot, orders and deliveries, just myself, my husband and two teenagers. We are aiming to restart our service from the beginning of August and have worked hard to make our site as Covid-19 secure as we can, however we will have only a handful of service users compared to our pre-lockdown level. We are more reliant now on sales of flowers than ever before but with the wonderful support of the local community we feel more confident that we can survive, albeit in a different version of our former selves.
Thanks again to Branch-out MK for sharing their Covid-19 experience with us. To find out more about their work and to support them, visit:
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