TRADERS who had been working together to improve Possilpark before the coronavirus pandemic have turned their focus to helping the vulnerable during the crisis.

Throughout last year, businesses in North Glasgow had been drawing up plans for a Possilpark Business Improvement District (BID), which would see them invest in local regeneration work.

Now they are providing food parcels, hot meals and glasses repairs to the elderly and vulnerable and protective equipment and vehicle repairs to key workers.

A steering group had been formed for the BID bid, which secured city council funding for improvements to shop fronts in Possilpark.

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During the pandemic the group has been meeting via Zoom video calls to discuss how they can help residents.

Gary Walker Butchers and Shopsmart Convenience Store and Post Office, on Saracen Street, have been providing food as part of ng homes' partnership with local organisations, which gives food parcels and hot meals to the elderly, those in isolation or with underlying health conditions.

Voluntary organisation Possobilities is providing free hot meals to the elderly and vulnerable for those referred by housing staff or other agencies.

Eye Pad Opticians, also on Saracen Street, is offering a free spectacle repair service for older people and Allied Vehicles Ltd has donated money towards community support, bought visors for key workers and continues to operate a repair service for emergency vehicles.

John Thorburn, chairman of ng homes said: "It became clear at the outset that this crisis was going to have a significant impact on our community as many would be in a situation of having to socially isolate and for others maintaining social distancing whilst out shopping.

"Therefore, the concept of working with local traders and businesses which would provide more accessibility for the community and support the local economy was vital."

Gerry Facenna, owner of Allied Vehicles Group, said: "There are amazing people trying to thrive here and improving Possilpark can only be a positive thing. During this period we have many challenges to face as a community and as businesses but we will be stronger working together."

The BID work has been supported by Scotland’s Towns Partnerships and hosted by ng homes.

Jackie Shearer, the consultant for Possilpark BID, has been meeting traders, carrying out consultation events, working with architects on designs for shop fronts and on environmental projects.

There are plans to hold digital consultation events to update traders and members of the community on the progress.

BIDs can only be formed if they get support from a majority of local businesses in a vote.

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Bob Doris MSP said: "The steering group are doing all we can to ensure lockdown has minimal impact on our ambitious plans.

"My thanks to Jackie Shearer for her drive in pushing these plans forward, and for the unflinching commitment of local businesses who are committed to the area and want to invest in Possilpark’s future”.

And Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland's Towns Partnership and a national programme director for Scotland’s Improvement Districts, said: "If this project continues to gather momentum and ultimately is successful, then this exciting Community Business Improvement District will provide us all with a fantastic blueprint for neighbourhoods and communities across Scotland, which perhaps up until now has felt left behind.

"The local Businesses, NG Homes, NHS, Police, Community Groups and the City Council are all collaborating on a future vision for Possilpark."