I’m extremely proud to be Mayor of Copeland – from Distington in the north to Millom in the south, and everywhere in between.

And I’ve never been prouder than over the past incredibly difficult five months. The spirit that’s been shown in all our communities during the Covid-19 crisis has been inspiring – by people working all hours, showing great flexibility and perseverance, and often putting themselves in harm’s way to continue serving our communities and helping those who need it most.

News and Star: Mayor of Copeland Mike StarkieMayor of Copeland Mike Starkie

That’s never been more apparent than on our high street and among our retail community. Those businesses that were permitted to stay open – for food, medication and essential supplies – have done our community proud. They went above and beyond; arranging home deliveries to vulnerable residents and adapting their measures to continue providing their services in whatever way possible.

Now it’s our turn to reciprocate. That’s why myself and Copeland Council have launched our new campaign, Shop Local: Keep it in Copeland, to support our fantastic retail and business community through these challenging times.

Our message is simple. Before going online or travelling elsewhere, please ask yourself if you could buy what you need in Copeland; from our four towns or from any of the outstanding independent businesses we have in our communities dotted right throughout the borough.

From Copeland Council’s perspective, we are absolutely committed to the campaign. We have welcomed on board a dedicated Business Support Officer to get out and about into our businesses community to work with individuals directly on their offer. We’ve also published an online retail directory – listing every shop in the borough. It’s staggering when you see all our retailers listed in one place and it makes you fully appreciate the volume and variety we have, from high street shops to independent family retailers.

From jewellers and clothes shops to carpet fitters and kitchen showrooms; garden centres, electronics, beds and furniture, cards and gifts, home improvement, crafts, bridal shops, computer and phone repairs, photo printers, the list goes on and on. Literally, from butchers and bakers to candle-makers!

And it’s not just about retail. We are using the campaign to support and promote all Copeland’s businesses – pubs and eateries; salons and barbers; estate agents; travel agents; garages; tradespeople; we’re here for everyone.

We’re pleased to be partnering with Newsquest on this campaign. Their titles – The Whitehaven News, News & Star and The Mail – are as much a part of the fabric of our communities as the retailers and businesses we are working together to support.

So please do your bit to support the campaign – and our high street. Look out for our Shop Local stickers that are popping up in our shop windows, and support our businesses wherever you can. Follow the campaign through Newsquest’s titles and online, and join in by telling the whole community about your favourite local businesses on social media using the hashtag #shoplocalcopeland.

All the information you need on the campaign is available at www.copeland.gov.uk/shop-local-campaign. And, together, let’s Shop Local and Keep it in Copeland!

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