On Sunday (8th November} Crawley’s first ever ‘free supermarket’ opened its doors to the local community.
The Free Shop Crawley is a store run by volunteers with the sole purpose of providing locals with food, toiletries and baby essentials without any associated cost.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford and his campaign to have school meals funded year-round, the stores inception came about when four local women shared a common desire to create a safe place for people in need to come and receive help without fear or shame.
Laura-Jane Wainwright, one of the founders of Free Shop Crawley said:
“Having used food banks in the past, I know first-hand how degrading it can feel. We wanted to create a dignified space where anyone in need could come and access essentials in a friendly and inclusive environment. The thought of children going to bed hungry and adults losing sleep over financial anxiety broke our hearts and we knew we had to use our skills and resources to help”
Shoppers are encouraged to take up to 10 items from the shop each visit giving them a full basket of daily necessities. Anyone is eligible to visit the store and although there is a ticketing system in place the team are ready to welcome anyone who is in need.
The shop offers a fresh produce section, toiletries and sanitary care, tinned and dried goods, nappies and formula and even children’s clothing and toys.
In week one alone, over 100 people have been fed by the shops offering, showing just how big a need there is for support in not just this area but country wide.
Local businesses have been quick to support the store donating essentials by the van load, even down to kitting out the shop with shelving, tables and hanging racks. Companies including Asda, Co-op and Tilgate Bakery have committed to donate to the store each week.
Free Shop Crawley can be found at CJ’s café, Kingsland Court, Three Bridges, Crawley, RH10 1HL, on Sundays from 2pm-4pm.
Crawley boy receives pioneering kit to help with his disabilities
Eleven-year-old Theakston Lee-Watson is among the first recipients of innovative new equipment to provide disabled children with sensory activities in their own home.
Theakston, from Crawley in Sussex, received the equipment from Caudwell Children as part of a UK-first charity campaign to deliver sensory equipment and support to disabled children across the country.
The sensory pack will provide a range of therapeutic benefits for Theakston, who has autism and sensory processing disorder, helping him regulate his emotions and develop his motor skills.
Theakston’s mum, Kitty Lee-Watson, has already noticed the benefits the equipment brings.
“He has a lot of anxiety at the moment, I now have the sensory pack out on his bedroom floor so when he has a meltdown it’s easy to guide him to something or distract him. This has been a real help.
“Theakston’s favourite part of the Get Sensory pack is the Fibre Optic Light as it’s both visual and tactile. He likes touching the fibres.”
Caudwell Children has pledged to provide thousands of families with essential sensory equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic – with each family receiving a pack of appropriate and safe toys to support children living with a wide range of disabilities.
Trudi Beswick, CEO of Caudwell Children, said:
“Our Get Sensory Packs are designed to support children who are likely to benefit from sensory resources – it’s so encouraging to hear that Theakston is enjoying using the equipment and his family can see the benefits already.”
“We’ve committed to provide thousands of families with a pack, because we know it’s difficult to access resources at the moment.
“To deliver on that we’re now calling for anyone who can to make a difference to the life of a disabled child by donating to our Get Sensory Packs campaign – you can make a life-changing difference from just £5.”
Caudwell Children launched its Get Sensory Packs campaign following consultation with parents to find the most appropriate and safe sensory items – selected by the charity’s Occupational Therapists.
The packs include:
- A Liquid Cell Timer,
- Scented Bubbles,
- A BoBo Massager,
- Sissle Brush,
- 4 Ball Massager,
- Weighted Cushion,
- Spikey Domes,
- Space Blanket, and
- A Fibre Optic Lamp.
Packs are available to children who have a confirmed disability or chronic illness. Families can apply directly to Caudwell Children for support, with the charity providing 80% of the cost of each pack.
Families will be asked to contribute 20% of the cost, which is £20, and to confirm their financial status and their child’s diagnosis. More information is available at getsensorypacks.com.