Norwich Free Market gets special award from Boris Johnson's office

Jamal Sealey (left) and Rahima Brandt (right), the organisers of the Norwich Free Market. Picture Kh

Jamal Sealey (left) and Rahima Brandt (right), the organisers of the Norwich Free Market. Picture Khalil Mitchell. - Credit: Khalil Mitchell

The founders of Norwich Free Market have been recognised by Number 10 for their outstanding contribution to the city. 

Each week Boris Johnson's office hands a Points of Light award to the country's best volunteers making maximum impact in their communities. 

And Rahima Brandt and Jamal Sealey, the Free Market founders, were named by the prime minister as winners for November 3 as their market acts "as a thriving community hub, providing a free space for traders and helping to combat the economic impacts of Covid".

Co-founder of the Free Market Rahima Brandt said: "It came out of the blue, we just received an email asking if we would accept the award from the prime minister’s office.

"They explained the award was for people who had done outstanding work in their community.

"We feel very honoured to receive it because for us the market was just responding to a need."

The market was started last year to help support traders that had suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.

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It was run every second Sunday of the month in the Norwich Theatre Royal car park.

The premise of the market is that there is no participation charges placed upon traders, inspired by the model of the Islamic market in Medina at the time of the early Muslims.

Mrs Brandt continued: "The first lockdown was so shocking and no one made any financial preparations for it. The market was just a way to help.

"Anyone could come and apply to trade at the market and it's not curated - we gave people a chance.

"It's really nice to be recognised because we feel this is a very valid thing to be doing in these times.

"I wasn't just this hippie, being nice to people idea. It has power."

Mrs Brandt also thanked the Norwich Theatre Royal for its help in the market's success, who placed trust in the organisers that they "weren't going to make a pig's ear out of it".

But now that the theatre has reopened, the market is unable to continue using their car park as a venue.

So organisers are urgently looking for a new city centre venue to continue supporting small local business and community connection.