For over two years, a shop in the heart of Bognor Regis has been providing urgently needed support for all the community.
Grandad’s Front Room community interest company, or CIC, operates with the sole intention of helping others who need help, for free.
As such, it is somewhere the whole community can come together, with the aim of building a more cohesive, understanding, safe and caring community in Bognor Regis and beyond.
The project is largely self-funded, garnering financial support from clearances and donations.
Items come from individuals, removal companies and house clearances and are then rehomed to those who need them for free.
People particularly need furniture, beds and lounge furniture, plus plates, cutlery, pots and pans and cooking utensils, cookers, fridges, washing machines, plus curtains and clothes.
The Front Room also offers anyone a free cuppa, custard creamt and sit-down ‘for as long as they like’ and donates free food to families in need.
Owner Danny Dawes said: “The main aim of Grandads Front Room CIC is to be there for those that struggle, to give support to those that are falling, to give company to those that are alone, to give an ear to those that need to be heard and to give a voice to those that feel they are ignored.”
Danny said the shop is here to empower and enable the community of which it is a part.
He said: “We are not cash rich as that would be counterproductive, as we need to give the help when it is needed and not just sit there and say ‘we are secure’. Let’s give that security to others by helping them with the essentials that we often take for granted.
“At Grandad’s Front Room CIC, we are all volunteers, Grandadders, and there are no wages paid, no egos to stroke and no one person is focused on. We focus on everyone, as that is what truly makes a community.”
The Front Room is fundraising for five community allotments, involving growing nourishing food and providing cooking classes for the whole family, and has started a Men’s Shed, also open to women and young people from the area, for all to come together and learn new skills, socialise and share in a ‘warm, supportive environment’.
For details of fundraising for allotments, see https://www.spacehive.com/community-4-community
‘Helping anyone any time’
Grandad’s Front Room CIC owner Danny Dawes was inspired to set up his community support shop by his own grandfather.
Danny said: “My Grandad was someone who helped anyone at any time and that ethos is instilled in the modern day Grandadder.”
What is a Grandadder?
He said: “A person who believes in helping others with no ulterior motive ...
“It is often not about the pounds and pennies, but the smile on the face or the tear in the eye which I wish we could bank, as that would make life so much easier lifting the burden of running costs.”
The Front Room developed when Danny and partner Reni Tyrolczyk struggled and started buying misspelt items of furniture, ‘droors instead of drawers, cubbord instead of cupboard’, on Ebay to upcycle and sell on.
“Then we realised that others are struggling more than we do, so we started buying mis-spelt items cheap and then giving them away to those that were in need.”
Danny and Reni set up in a thatched barn with a soil floor, one electrical socket, no water and triangular holes in the walls for windows
He said: “It was bitterly cold in the winter and that was when we decided to move ... We sold our car for £1,100 and moved into West Street to open a Community Support Shop, which was a success and we started creating smiles.
“People, Grandadders, came on board and started to also visualise our dream/vision and indeed them joining in with us enabled and empowered us to move on to greater things.”
To date, ‘greater things’ for Grandad’s Front Room range from being awarded ‘Highly Commended Charity/CIC of the Year 2017’ at the Arun Business Partnership Awards to being awarded Civic Award 2018 for Bognor Regis for services to Bognor Regis
Danny was also awarded the Community Hero Award from Spirit FM FOR 2018 and CIC/Charity of the Year 2018 by Arun Business Partnership Awards, plus Overall Business of the Year 2018 by Arun Business Partnership Awards.
In addition, Grandad’s Front Room was announced as one of the top 100 Small Businesses in the UK out of 55,000 by the Small Business Saturday organisation.
Contact Grandad on 07701 335 175 and the shop on 07453 813 413 for details.