Praising the unsung keyworkers at the cash and carry who are feeding Swindon
By Jamie Hill - 8 May 2020
Gary Pointer of Batleys and Sunny Patel of Swindon Volunteers
During this lockdown the local shopkeepers and the takeaways of the town have been a lifeline for Swindonians when it comes to essentials and food. But they would not have been able to carry on without the help of the town's cash and carries who have been working throughout this crisis.
Swindon Volunteers at Batleys Cash and Carry
The cash and carries have even been helping out the town by donating supplies for Swindon's selfless volunteers to provide essential food and cooked meals to the most vulnerable and shielded.
And to show their appreciation, Swindon Volunteers has even provided free cooked meals, prepared by chef Sanjay Dogra from Chiseldon Smokehouse, to the workers at the town's cash and carries, N & B Foods in Rivermead, Batleys in Blagrove and Bookers on Elgin Industrial Estate.
Swindon Volunteers are a group founded by community champions Pradeep Bhardwaj and Sunny Patel made up of hundreds of volunteers delivering food to those most in need throughout the town. The group is partnered with Chiseldon Smokehouse, Broccoli Pasta & Pizza, Copacabana Brazilian Kitchen, Tasty Food Express, QMS Store and N & B Foods. They would not be able to provide the help that they do without the cash and carries.
Sunny Patel, of Swindon Volunteers, also runs two convenience stores, QMS Stores on Ferndale Road and Alexandra Park Convenience Store in Wroughton and has an interest in The Smokehouse. He said: "If these cash and carries weren't operating it would be a disaster for Swindon during this pandemic. They supply all the convenience stores as well as the takeaways and they even deliver making it so much easier to get what we need in a safe way at these times.
"They've even helped out with our efforts at Swindon Volunteers with donating the ingredients so that we can cook the meals or supply for free those in real need.
"We thought we would show our appreciation of their efforts by cooking and donating some meals back to the cash and carries as what they are doing is more than essential for the town."
Batleys Cash and Carry in Blagrove is part of Bestway Wholesale one of the biggest wholesalers in the country. It employs 40 people and supplies businesses across Swindon.
General Manager Gary Pointer said: "At the start of the crisis we were getting through massive amounts of stock meaning that we were finding it difficult to keep the supplies going but it's calmed down and thanks to my team we're able to keep the shelves full.
"We have done everything we can to keep supplies going and we have been so busy over the past few weeks. Obviously it has been challenging but we adhering to the strict social distancing measures to ensure that our customers and staff are safe.
"We have worked closely with different groups across the town to try and help. Brighter Futures, which helps GWH, now comes two or three times a week to keep their food supplies up and we also have volunteers from across the town giving out food packages to the most vulnerable mostly out of their own pockets. We have been doing everything we can to help them from supplying boxes to putting some extra food items in their packages at no extra cost.
"We really appreciated the meals that were donated to us from Swindon Volunteers. Some members of staff ate them in their lunch break and others took them home. It's good for the team to know that their hard work is appreciated and is making a difference."
N & B Foods in Rivermead, West Swindon, has about 50 people working for the business and have ensured that everything they do adheres to the guidance from Public Health England.
Nilesh Chavda, a partner at N&B Foods, said: "We really appreciated the meals from Swindon Volunteers. It was nice to know that our efforts are appreciated as what we do isn't really public facing
"We've helped them out by providing free ingredients like rice and spices to help with the cooking. We've also done the same for the keyworkers at the hospital and we've donated supplies to help Threshold Housing, who are helping house the homeless during the pandemic at the GW Hotel opposite the station.
"Like every business we've had to change how we do things during this pandemic and it is good to know that what we are doing really helps."