TODAY the Evesham Journal launches a campaign to support local businesses to help them recover from the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

Supported by Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, our Love Local Business campaign encourages our readers to back the traders of Evesham, Pershore and the surrounding areas by spending their money with them.

Many of these businesses are re-opening this Monday, June 15, after more than two months of being closed, while others such as hairdressers and pubs won’t be able to trade again until July. For those businesses that have been able to remain open during the lockdown, many have seen a significant loss in income.

Journal editor Michael Purton said: “This is a crucial time for local businesses as they try to recover from the impact of the lockdown which, for many, has seen them without any income for more than two months.We are fortunate to have so many great local, independent businesses and we need our community to support them now to make sure we don’t lose them.

“In the coming weeks we will be promoting these businesses in our newspaper, on our website and our social media channels, to help spread the message that they are open and highlight why they are so valuable to this community.

“I urge all of our readers to show that they love local business by supporting them.”

MP Mr Huddleston said: "These past few months have been an immensely challenging time for many of us and lockdown disrupted our normal way of living – spending less time outside, less contact with others and inevitably changing how we spend our money. Our worlds have all become smaller during this pandemic and now, more than ever, it’s so important to think locally.

"I appreciate it’s not easy for everyone to venture down to the High Street right now and precautions must still be taken. But local businesses have been exceptional in the way they’ve adapted, and while many have had to close or restrict the number of people who can enter them, many have gone online or introduced deliveries. Many local service companies and traders have also had to close or change the way they operate.

“As we begin to reduce lockdown measures and restrictions and more of our shops, food and beverage outlets open up again, I encourage everyone to think local and buy local as much as possible.

“Small and medium sized business are highly reliant on local footfall so please do show your appreciation for the sacrifices they have made to help keep us safe whether restricting their business operations or closing altogether.

“As they open up again, they will need our business more than ever. I look forward to showing my support for local businesses, please join me.”

Gareth Martin, owner of Iconic Hairdresser & Barber and Iconic Beautique beauty salon in Evesham High Street said that, at the start of lockdown, he took a moral decision to close before ‘personal care’ businesses were forced to do so by the government.

“It was purely because I didn’t think we could keep staff and clients safe,” he said. “It was worrying because that was before furlough was announced. At the start I did the calculations and worked out we could potentially get through three months without any income coming in. The furlough scheme was a massive help. We had a grant, that helped to pay rent, gas, electricity.

“I feel 100 per cent confident we could re-open tomorrow, and safely. We as a team have learnt what is going on in the rest of the world and what they have got in place. We have got dividers in the salon to separate chairs, we are fully stocked with PPE.

“We are set to go now – waiting on the government announcement allowing us to re-open.

“I would encourage people to shop local as much as they can – the butchers, florist, wherever people can shop local.”

Sales director for the Journal and our sister titles, Dale Godliman said: “I am delighted that we are running a sustained campaign outlining the importance of using local business, at what is a crucial time for so many SMEs.

“We reach a huge percentage of the local population across our well-established regional brands and, through a combination of combining our loyal print publications, record online audiences and market leading engagement via our social media channels, we are really confident that we can be the marketing partner of choice for local businesses during this crucial period.

“We are really banging the drum for local businesses from all sectors including retail, hospitality and leisure and encouraging our loyal readership to show their support by shopping local.

“Any business which wants to be featured in our campaign should get in touch on 01905 742372 or and we will be more than happy to provide further details.”