Everybody in town is looking forward to the Jubilee Picnic. The Town Team are doing the hard work behind the scenes, but it’s the crowds that turn up, having fun together, who will make it the exciting celebration we’re all looking forward to.
Thinking about the rest of the year, we’ve got another thing to celebrate every day: the shops on our high street are also organised by a set of dedicated, hard-working people, getting everything ready, for the people to turn up to make it fun.
And it works. Wymondham has always been the kind of town where people pull together to preserve the things that are important.
In Wymondham we’ve been running Totally Locally since just before the first lockdown. Part of a national campaign, we host Fiver Fest a few times a year, where we first shared the calculation that if each adult spent £5 a week in independent shops, it would inject £3.2 million a year into the Wymondham economy alone.
It got off to an uncertain start: we had no sooner launched Totally Locally in Wymondham when Covid forced all the businesses to pull down their shutters. But even then our committed shopkeepers found ways to deliver. And it wasn’t just flour, prescriptions, or books, it was making sure that the lonely who usually call in and get a friendly hello, still had someone checking in on them.
So you get a lot more than just value for money with independent shops – you get a sense of belonging to something that matters. When lockdown descended, hundreds of volunteers got involved to make sure Wymondham was still okay, from the traders to the housebound. The system was there, the people pulled together to get creative, and most of our shops survived.
And now that we’re all out of lockdown, it’s even more important that we remember: Wymondham is more than a system of housing estates. The Abbey, the museum, the heritage railway, the nature and our walks are all treasures, but the independent shops on the high street are just as much a part of what generations before us have loved about the town, and deserve just as much investment from all of us.
The district council has announced the Love Local campaign, and we are grateful for every message to encourage people shopping in their own towns. It’s to all our advantage that we all love where we live: it creates jobs, establishes a strong social network, reduces crime, increases tax money, improves property values – the benefits go on and on. And when you think about it, it isn’t necessarily cheaper or faster to shop online – the price is often very similar, but the money stays here in Wymondham, instead of helping a system of shareholders.
We have so much to show off and enjoy in Wymondham. But it only works when everybody does their part to keep it going.