The old parcels office at Petersfield Station has been transformed into a ‘free shop’ by the East Hampshire Community Rail Partnership (CRP), aiming to reduce waste and support those in need this winter.
The scheme started as a way for the local community to redistribute food that would otherwise have been wasted, including to local charities during the Covid-19 lockdown. The scheme began operating on Saturdays in response to the high demand, and has now also evolved to offer second-hand school uniforms, supporting local families.
A big priority for the East Hampshire CRP is working with partners such as South Western Railway and
Community Rail Network to develop disused rooms and buildings at stations for community use, providing social value and promoting sustainable development.
After recently putting out a call for the local community to donate their good quality coats, hats, scarves and gloves, those running Petersfield’s Free Shop were not disappointed with the generous supply of items donated from commuters and local residents.
On Sunday 16 and Monday 17 October, more than 122 coats found new homes, as well as plenty of gloves, hats and scarves. The few surplus items at the end were donated to local homeless charities, and children’s coats and hats were taken to Butser Ancient Farm to keep young visitors warm as they brave the elements during their visit.
Lucy Lomax, Community Rail Officer for East Hampshire CRP, said: “From the initial moment we had the idea of providing winter warmers, I have been overwhelmed by the support of our local community. Donations came in by the bag load, all really high quality coats, gloves, hats and scarves. I was thrilled to see the whole community pull together.
“The scheme has encouraged new volunteers to get involved with East Hampshire CRP, who are now keen to help even more. It gave us the chance to meet new free shoppers who had not previously visited The Hub at Petersfield Station – people even travelled along the line by train to visit us. The Free Shop project has made such a positive difference to families and communities.
“I’d like to give a special mention to Winton House, Pecan, Petersfield Post and Shine Radio, who all helped spread the word.”
Free Shop Petersfield is open every Wednesday 1:30-3pm, and every Friday and Saturday 10am-12pm.
If any other CRPs would like more details or to get involved, get in contact with Lucy via Lucy@hampshirecommunityrail.co.uk.