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Community working together to create Little Plumstead village shop

Little Plumstead community shop and cafe plans. Left to right, Simon Wright CEO Nelson's Journey, Louise Amond HPFT, Ellie Edgar HPFT, Vicki Aiken HPFT, Robert Ashton who had the idea of the shop, Siobhan Parslow-Williams committee member, Graham Goddard committee member. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Little Plumstead community shop and cafe plans. Left to right, Simon Wright CEO Nelson's Journey, Louise Amond HPFT, Ellie Edgar HPFT, Vicki Aiken HPFT, Robert Ashton who had the idea of the shop, Siobhan Parslow-Williams committee member, Graham Goddard committee member. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

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Fulfilling a need is a necessity of business but a community project is aiming to be a village hub, shop and support a people discharged from a local clinic.

Villagers, councillors and an NHS Trust are working together to create a community shop in Little Plumstead. As well as serving a growing community, would give an opportunity to service users at the nearby Broadland Clinic, which provides residential treatment for people with mental health issues, to volunteer and gain work experience before being discharged from the forensic mental health facility.

Sites being considered for the project include a Victorian walled garden near to the village church and the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the clinic, has helped spearhead the scheme, including carrying out a survey which found 87.7% of villagers thought a shop was important.

Owen Fry, service line lead at the trust, said: “Following a chance meeting between one of our doctors and someone with experience of being involved in setting up community shops it seems too good an opportunity for us not to explore having such a shop, run by the local community with support from the parish council, the school and ourselves, as part of the NHS nearby. With such a fantastic site as the Victorian Walled Garden, adjacent to the church it became obvious.”

He added: “The shop will provide a genuine opportunity for people recovering from hospital to have a real work experience, which is an important part of their recovery.”

Little Plumstead parish councillor Russell Heath, who is helping to lead the project, said there was enthusiasm for the scheme. He said: “From the Parish perspective we are keen to see the walled garden become part of the community again and also recognise the value a local shop can have.

“If both are able to happen together with full support of the community where there is a viable and sustainable future then that would be a good option.”

Robert Ashton, who made initial inquiries for the project, said Little Plumstead was growing with the arrival of the Northern Distributor Road (NDR).

He said: “The NDR kind of cuts the development off from Thorpe End so it is isolated a bit and people thought it was hard to get to a shop without driving.”

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