At Ali’s Jericho Store, shopkeeper Faisal Shaukat’s customer service goes way beyond the boundaries of his Albert Street shop. The 28-year-old is the very essence of a good neighbour, going out in all weathers to support his elderly community.
Indeed, Faisal has been chosen by Oxfordshire County Council’s as a shining example of what it is promoting in its ‘Be the warmth in your community’ campaign – which aims to empower residents to look out for their vulnerable neighbours in lots of ways but especially to make sure their homes are affordably warm.
Faisal has been known to personally deliver medicines and parcels, change lightbulbs and even clear snow from driveways. He said: “There’s such a strong community feeling around here, and we’ve always tried to provide a lifeline to people. We build up a good relationship with our customers and if they ever need things delivered we’ll do it for them. A lot of elderly customers just like to come in for a chat so we’ll try to have a bit of banter with them.”
Faisal has worked at the store for the past 12 years, allowing his parents Ali and Musarat to take a back seat.
Pensioner David Barker is a daily visitor and often asks Faisal to top up his mobile phone. “I couldn’t be without Faisal,” said the 77-year-old. “He changes my lightbulbs at home, he orders me taxis - he’ll do anything if I ask him.”
Dr Eunan O’Neill, consultant in public health, said: “It doesn’t have to be freezing or snowing for the body to start reacting to the cold. Homes need to be kept at or around 18C. Much below this, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens, can make existing breathing or heart problems worse. Older or housebound people are more likely to experience heart attacks and strokes in colder weather. In addition, cold homes can cause social isolation and loneliness.
“We want to empower local communities, through good neighbours, to look out for their vulnerable neighbour. Knowing there is a good neighbour on their street can give people real comfort and peace of mind.”
More advice is available from Be the warmth in your community