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Working safely through COVID-19: Rattle Ghyll

Rattle Ghyll, Ambleside Rattle Ghyll, Ambleside

Over the past few months we at Rattle Ghyll in Ambleside have been thinking and rethinking of ways to keep ourselves, staff and customers safe, whilst at the same time keep offering the friendly, approachable, caring service that we like and are known to offer.

My partner (both in business and life) Alec and I have wanted to make sure we keep looking after the community, whether it be with a delivery, a special hamper for a loved one on a special day or just a bit of friendly chat and banter. We have always had a strong sense of community and have found it incredible what Ambleside has been able to offer its residents during this time. It has shown me that we live in a community that values interdependence - people helping people is the way we will get through this. We’ve been heartened to see that it’s not just in Ambleside, or Cumbria, but as a nation there has been lots on the news of how people have been helping other people… long may that continue!

As a business we decided that staying open at the deli was what needed to happen. We had to furlough 5 of our staff and kept 2 part-timers on to help us with the running of the deli. We realised quite quickly that the people of Ambleside and local area were big time bakers! We had never intended to sell flour, but the local Tesco express and Spar weren't able to keep the flour flowing for our local baking enthusiasts, so we had a discussion with one of our wholesalers about increasing our purchasing of their 16kg bags and decided to bag it up ourselves. This is in-keeping with our refills section in the shop - we have 20 glass dispensers which include bulk-buy products that are hard to buy free from plastic, such as nuts, seeds, pasta, oats, lentils, chickpeas etc. We now have 2 shelves of pre-bagged baking products and baking paper too!

From the start of lockdown we have been asking customers what they need and want and then tried our best to fulfil those wishes - baking products were our number one priority! We keep asking too and people keep telling us - it’s a fabulous win win - happy customer/shop full of products that people want to buy.

The other alternative to the usual running of the deli was being able to offer vulnerable and isolated folks the chance of getting fresh fruit and veg. We were getting veg boxes from one of our suppliers in Kendal - Parsons, but they sadly had to close, which meant we needed to fulfil the vegetable box orders ourselves. Time for a spreadsheet and a costings session - we have been able to secure some great products from McClures in Windermere, so can now put vegetable boxes together ourselves.

We also needed to be able to deliver orders to people. We could do this a little ourselves, but with the toddler in tow we couldn't do it all. The local volunteers at the Ambleside Parish centre came to the rescue… We have the local librarian, Chris Shepherd, as our volunteer driver every Thursday. He comes to the deli, picks up his delivery sheet and off he goes. He knocks on the customers door and leaves the food for people to pick up themselves and we take card payments over the phone, therefore, creating a zero contact interaction.

We have worked closely with the Apple Pie Bakery since we started the cafe, and then when we opened the deli they created two bespoke sourdough loaves for us to sell - amazing! Once lockdown was announced the Apple Pie were no longer able to do our daily bread order, so we went on the hunt for other baker and we now get bread from Yard 46 in Kendal twice a week - an 8 grain sourdough and beautiful ciabattas. The Apple Pie supply us once a week with a white sourdough and a Rye sourdough so that all bread basis covered. We used to keep the bread on a table in the middle of the deli and people could help themselves, but now we keep it all behind counter and bag it up for people.

The Deli floor space is big enough that our customers and staff can feel safe in the knowledge that we can have a 2 meter distance from each other. We have also got masking tape lines on the floor and a barrier by the counter as a reminder for people to keep their distance. This is a very alien concept for our staff and us, as we are used to coming out from behind the counter to help people, or show people where things are or even to show them how to use the refills scales. It has taken some getting used to, but we’re managing it!

We have mainly been taking card payments, but do still take cash payments. We have a bucket that the 'dirty' money goes into, then we actually wash and dry it at the end of the day and the 'washed' money then goes into the till to be used as change. If people don’t have contactless cards, we sanitise the card machine after they have touched it.

We have a hand wash sink in the deli itself which the staff are using after touching anything that someone else might have touched, and moisturiser too, as our hands are drying out due to washing them even more than normal.

The deli door is always open, this means that no one has to touch the door handle.

Who knows what the next couple of weeks will bring, but being kind and compassionate to those walking through our doors will always be our manner.

We will keep serving the community and keep on keeping on!

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