19 August 2021
Connections and cargo: How the importance of local skyrocketed in 2020
The feeling of being connected with other people has been tested to the limits this year: we’ve been forced to rethink how we communicate, how we travel, how and where we work, how we keep ourselves feeling well and healthy, and how we bring joy to our own lives and the lives of others.
Many times, the restrictions put in place to keep us all safe have left us feeling marooned; stuck inside the same four walls without those busy daily interactions, the long commutes powered by frothy coffee, or the hubbub of coming together for meals out. But increasingly, this experience of being newly anchored to our local communities has become something of a revelation; we’re coming to see that perhaps, just perhaps, being closer to our homes at least some of the time could be a better way of living, with or without a pandemic on our hands. And sometimes, a basic need for sustenance, provided by a nearby shop, market or café, or a contribution into a local charity, becomes more than a transaction of stuff- it’s a vital connection for this new way of living.
The organisations we work with at Zedify have had to adapt and develop in remarkable ways during 2020 to keep our city communities connected and thriving: We’ve repurposed a council library delivery contract in Brighton to deliver essential food to those who need it; we’ve supported a local Cambridge cheese shop branching out into online orders; we’ve delivered the first mile for fantastical boxes full to the brim of activities for zoom-call team building taking place across the country; we’ve helped a recently opened art space in Southampton to keep local residents connecting with its artists by making home deliveries from its gift shop; we’ve helped a neighbourhood baker in Glasgow- born out of lockdown- to kickstart a local delivery service. We’ve also partnered with a brand new platform which exists just for helping local businesses to sell to local residents online. We spoke with a range of customers to find out what’s been their experience of working with Zedify this year.
The Zedify model for green, urban logistics primarily uses electric cargo bikes and trikes. This model fits neatly with a rethink on making our city streets more conducive for active travel, which in turn helps local businesses by making the spaces around their premises more enjoyable for customers. A report by Transport for London found that ‘where more social conditions exist for active travel’ the retail spend in that area can increase by up to 30%.
There is also a serious reality to the ask to ‘buy local’, which it’s important to acknowledge. The UK economy has a big contribution from local, independent businesses, and as we start to see our way out of the pandemic restrictions and ‘build back better’, supporting our local businesses is going to be an important factor. The Federation of Small Business reports that for every £1 spent locally with a small or medium sized business, 63p is re-spent in the local area. That’s compared to 40p when spent with a chain or big business. Our local businesses and charities offer us the opportunity to vote with our £ for the sort of places we want to live, the sort of world we want to rebuild and for the quality of the connections we have with the people we live nearby.