Funding a complete transformation

Having a branch that is fit for the 21st Century is how postmaster Andy Blagojevitch describes the transformed Middle Rasen Post Office, which benefited from £10,000 of support from the Community Branch Fund.

The Lincolnshire branch is unrecognisable to the one that had been in situ for many years, and the positivity of his customers in responding to its transformation has given Andy hope of a more profitable future.

The majority of money spent was given to transforming the Post Office branding and improving Andy’s retail capabilities.

“We put in a new service door to replace the tired-looking old one and painted it the Post Office red to match the exterior of the branch,” said Andy, explaining the changes that have been made. “We also have some new poster holders in the windows, so that we are able to more easily display the Post Office brand.

“We’ve installed extra lighting to become more visible to passing trade, at an earlier stage.

“Inside the branch, we’ve entirely changed the retail side of the business. We had two stock rooms but have converted the smaller one to provide extra retail space.

“There is new shelving throughout the branch, a new floor and a middle aisle has been introduced as well. We have a new counter area, which replaced the previous version that was very long and took up a lot of space.

“In terms of the Post Office, we still have the old fortress counter and serve from pretty much the same position – although we are slightly more in the corner of the branch.”

Not only did the £10,000 help Andy make a significant start in transforming the branch, it also helped him secure extra funding from his local council.

“The total cost of the work that has been carried out is £25,000,” said Andy. “But without the Community Fund I wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere near as much. I also received a £10,000 grant from Lincolnshire County Council but that was only available if I was able to match that funding – which the Community Fund enabled me to do.”

Now Andy is urging other postmasters to secure a Community Fund grant.

“Applying for the Community Fund is an easy process, especially to receive the final payment as it’s just a case of signing in and giving proof of your spend.

“The customers love the changes. We have many customers who are very traditional and have been coming to the branch for a long time, and I was wary that it might have changed too much for them. However, I have had nothing but positive comments that we now have a branch fit for the 21st Century.”