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All members of Brightwell Village Stores will be entitled to vote on the future of the Post Office – and if you are not a member and would like to have a say, you can register now. You only need to give a minimum donation of £1, which entitles you to one vote per household. Apply in the shop, or e-mail

Celia Collett, Village Stores chairman, has been in touch with a community shop in St Germans, Cornwall, whose former chairman says becoming a Post Office Local was the best thing they ever did.

Paul Joyce writes:

Established in 2010 the St Germans Community Shop (and sub Post Office) has two paid staff (shop manager, assistant shop manager) and 30+ volunteers. We open 8-6 Mon to Fri (closed 1-3pm), Sat 8-2pm, Sun 8-12pm.

The shop is successful but challenges remain and we are always looking for new initiatives to stimulate footfall and sales. In 2014 we were faced with transitioning to a Post Office Local or losing the ability to continue offering PO services. The Post Office were both helpful and reassuring and we decided to embrace the challenge. As shop manager, Sara Dawe told me, “If I knew then what I know now I would have jumped at it”.

We visited another Post Office Local and learned at first hand how it actually worked and had no illusions. We spent a great deal of time preparing our application which was accepted. The Post Office conceded that due to the volunteer basis of the shop there may be times when we might not be able to offer PO services. Since opening in July 2014 the Post Office has remained open at all times.

The main worry was of course having to provide PO services to match the retail opening times. We used to close the PO every afternoon so we had concerns. The Post Office were very helpful and a trainer remained on site for a week as we transitioned and returned a second time. The PO paid for all physical amendments including a dedicated BT line. There were no costs to the shop. There is also a helpline which is very useful. Losing the ‘fortress’ style setup opened up the shop and has proved very popular. We have no problems with privacy.

Volunteers have risen to the challenge and with the help of the trained staff have provided PO cover. It takes additional training but the acknowledgment of the benefit to the community seems to have inspired new volunteers to come forward.

The ability to provide Post Office services has brought new customers and increased revenue. Our premises are quite small and yet we have accommodated the new safes and we are always able to cope at busy times. It is an invaluable service to the community allowing access to pensions, banking and of course postal services.

It is a challenge of course but one that we here in St Germans are so glad we embraced.

Paul K Joyce
Former Chairman

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