Church Street pet store provides community spirit

Social enterprise store helps volunteers back into employment and provides funds for community work

CATS, dogs, birds and hamsters have a new place to find their perfect accessories after a community pet store with a difference opened in Church Street on Monday.

Pet Society, which is located in the Church Street Neighbourhood Management office, is run by volunteers from the area with all the profits going back into Church Street community projects.

Neighbourhood officer Claire Millett, who is running the shop, says there are three main aims behind the social enterprise.

“Firstly, it’s to bring some money into Church Street so we can continue doing regeneration and improvement works following severe funding cuts,” she said. “All the profits are going to be reinvested into the community.

“Secondly, we want to involve residents in the improvement of their community.

“We’ve got about 15 volunteers all of whom are local people who run the store on a day-to- day basis.

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“A lot of them are looking for work so this is a stepping stone for them. We provide them with references and help them to get a job.

“We also have other volunteers who are retired and want to give back to the local community and we have one gap year student.

“Thirdly we want to promote responsible pet ownership.

“Residents have been telling us for years about problems with dog poo and people using their dogs as weapons.

“With the Pet Society we are going to have things like dog socialising classes and a vet coming in to do pet checks.”

Pet Society volunteer Jill West has lived in Lisson Grove her whole life and is hoping to use her experience at the store to gain paid employment.

“I’ve been out of work for a long time when I was ill with depression but this has got me out the house and it’s a new start for me to get me moving on.” she said.