A surveyor in the Hotels Valuation team based in Bristol has been shortlisted for an industry award by EG for his voluntary work at a retirement village shop.
During the COVID-19 pandemic Colliers International participated in the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and from early April Rob Adams was placed on furlough as lockdown restrictions meant he was unable to carry out his normal duties.
Uncomfortable with being unproductive at home, Rob started looking for volunteering opportunities and after seeing a post on Facebook asking for help at a recently opened shop in a retirement village, he offered to assist for one day a week.
Your Village Shop opened at Stoke Gifford Retirement Village just two days before lockdown began. Husband and wife team Lucy and Richard Smith had been exploring the idea of opening a store to provide work experience opportunities for people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and had expressed an interest in the lease, with a view to open later in the year.
However in March, ExtraCare, the village operators, called the couple and asked if they could open immediately to help address the unfolding crisis of providing essential supplies for the residents in the 261-home village. The couple agreed, despite having no wholesalers’ agreements in place or prior experience running a store.
Instead of visiting hotels in the South West, Rob found himself setting up remote customer order systems, making trips to various suppliers, walking 5km through the village daily to drop off order sheets to the residents; and making the same 5km trip again to collect orders from those unable to email or pay electronically; packing orders and finally delivering them to customers.
“I was on my feet from 9.30am to 4.30pm, when I’d normally be at a desk,” he said. “I was looking forward to starting volunteering, and when I realised Lucy and Richard were staying late into the evening, I offered to volunteer for longer, so that they could finish earlier. I was more than happy to volunteer four days a week, including Saturdays, not only to assist the residents, but also Lucy and Richard.”
During his experience he built up relationships with the residents, providing much-needed social interaction for those who had been unable to leave their homes or receive visitors. “Due to the lockdown restrictions, unless they had a care package in place, I might be the only person the residents spoke to that day,” he explained. “So I would stand outside and have chats with the residents, provide them with updates on the shop and provide them with social interaction.”
Following the Government’s easing of lockdown restrictions Rob returned to his day job, however he still volunteers at the shop on Saturdays. “I miss the relationships I’ve built with the residents,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve ever volunteered like this. I’ve realised that there’s often people in the local community that need a helping hand and are really grateful for even the smallest bit of time that we can offer.”
Talking about the support he provided Lucy said: “From day one Rob proved that he is the kind of person who wants to help people and give back to the community. He was pivotal to the success of our operations during lockdown at Your Village Shop serving residents of Stoke Gifford Retirement Village.
“Every day we faced a different challenge as lockdown restrictions tightened and guidance changed but Rob helped Richard and I in so many different ways. Not only did he immediately get stuck in and help us organise supplies to the vulnerable and elderly residents but he was a great asset as a process driven person, and he helped us to get established; identifying solutions when things weren’t quite right and helped to hone and improve operations to provide a more efficient service.”
Rob was nominated for the EG Superhero individual awards by Colliers International, and has been shortlisted alongside three others from within the industry. The winners will be announced at the EG Awards on 29 October.