Volunteers still needed to help it grow
Filwood Community Market made a triumphant return at the weekend after a six month break – and was warmly welcomed back by local people.
As with many businesses and events – it’s been a bumpy ride for the market over the past year being unable to open due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But its new Chair and organiser, Kevin Williams, hopes with the extra stalls and a few new twists – the community venture will continue to grow.
Building on all the hard work of the past to get it off the ground and attract traders to the area – the array of awnings across the green on Saturday paid testament to the market’s growing popularity.
Kevin says: “It’s good to see people out, it’s definitely getting bigger and better as we’ve gone from ten stalls to 26.
“What’s new is that we’ve got community and business awareness groups and also local business development if you want to start your own – plus a “food talk” stall and conversations about local planning…
“We’re trying to include more of what’s going on for local people as well as something for the kids and we’re trying to help local traders and keep the money in the area.
“For the next one we’re going to have a Filwood Community Market card payment machine – so even if a trader hasn’t got one they can use it.”
But he urges that the monthly event still needs volunteers to come forward to assist with setting up.
“You don’t have to be physically strong, just a body to help. We need numbers,” he says. “If we can get people to do different bits it takes the pressure off. This lot have been here since 6am…”
With stalls once again selling their wares on Filwood Broadway and the weather holding, people were quick to pop by.
Sanitiser stations had been set up and many traders were wearing masks and gloves, ensuring there was enough distance between them and the public.
There is a sense the market will continue to survive and expand – carried along by the enthusiasm of the traders and visitors – with stalls ranging from books, second hand goods and handmade soaps to plants, cards and green cleaning products.
Resident Tina Taylor 55 who dropped in to have a look says: “I came here last year, I’m glad it’s back, it would be good to have more stalls.”
And Carlie Griffen (24) who came with her sister Sophie (29) says: “It’s good, it’s fun and it’s local.”
Traders Mary Stokes who runs Sew ‘n’ Sew by Mary and daughter-in-law Sally Stokes of Sally’s Soaks were glad to be back again. The pair have been supporting the enterprise since the start – selling a range of goods from clothing and bags to bath products.
They were at the first official launch in November 2019 – among a handful of stalls behind Filwood Community Centre bravely surviving the gales.
This followed a pilot market at Knowle West Fest to test the water- after surveys showed residents were keen to have a regular event in the area.
Mary says: “It’s definitely bigger. It’s a nice vibe and there are a lot more people, they’ve been advertising it more and put it on the radio.”
Community gardener Don Jones had a variety of locally grown plants on offer as well as running a seed swap – and even staged an impromptu seed planting on the green.
He says: “This is the first time I’ve done the stall since the pilot at Knowle West Fest – we’re just asking for donations but have done really well. I’ll definitely come back – and with more change next time.”
Buskers had been invited to the event to help provide atmosphere – and punters were treated to folk music from husband and wife duo, Paul and Francesca Meager, on the violin and guitar – along with Anne Summers on the accordion.
Local artist Claudia Collins – now working on Creative Engagement for Filwood Fantastic – was helping to run a children’s games stall with Angie Allen from Lee Abbey Church.
Situated next to the Filwood Broadway Planning Group – where members were talking to residents about having their say on housing plans for the old swimming pool site – the pair were also interested in hearing from the community.
Visitors had the chance to sound off with their ‘Pizza My Mind’ chat activity – writing on slips about their feelings during the past year – under ‘topping’ headings such as Hopeful Ham, Optimistic Onions and Traumatised Tomatoes.
Claudia says she has really missed “the natural bumping into people and unplanned conversations” a large community event like this brings.
She says: “It’s been lovely for me here today. Last year I did my first market with a badgemaker and since then I’ve seen it grow and grow. It’s nice to recognise people from all over the area.”
Filwood Community Market takes place on the first Saturday of the month at Filwood Broadway from 10am – 3pm. The next one is on 5 June. To run a stall, join the committee or volunteer email firstname.lastname@example.org