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“I think it helped people to feel normal, to feel looked after, and boosted their mental health”

The Scotland Loves Local East Renfrewshire Gift Card can be spent with over 160 businesses across the region. East Renfrewshire Council distributed over 4500 £100 East Renfrewshire Gift Cards to low income households in November 2022, and a popular place for people to spend their cards was Café 136 in Barrhead. Owner David Henry said:

“Café 136 is a family business that has been running for 18 years. I work at the café with my wife and daughter, and we have one staff member, Elaine. Barrhead is a small town, and one of those places where everyone knows each other, and we’re fortunate to have lots of regular customers.

“It was tough for businesses in the pandemic and it is tough now with the cost of supplies, gas and electricity. The core of our business is older people, and obviously the café was closed in the pandemic. When we re-opened, customers gradually started stepping out again and coming back to the café too.

“We heard about the East Renfrewshire Gift Card at an event in Barrhead. I decided to sign up because I thought it was a great idea that would be good for local businesses and the local economy.

“When East Renfrewshire Council distributed the gift cards to low income households, it helped a lot of people. Many are struggling, and the gift card meant they could get a bit of lunch, buy a greetings card from the card shop, or get some food. I think it helped people to feel normal, to feel looked after, and boosted their mental health.

“It was important to us that our customers felt comfortable spending their card with us. The stickers we had in the window advertising that we accept the East Renfrewshire Gift Card helped people to feel reassured that they would be welcomed when they came into the café to use their card. People would sometimes ask how they could check their balance, and we showed them how to do that. Even if people only had a few pounds left on the card, we’d let them know they could use the balance and pay the difference.

“4-5 months down the line from the cards first being distributed, we’re still getting people into the café to spend their cards. We’ve noticed new people coming into the café as a result of the gift card, and they’ve become regular customers too. It’s helping people to feel part of their community, to socialise and to take an active role in the success of where they live. What’s brilliant is that whether the cards were used in my café or another café or shop, it is all helping East Renfrewshire businesses.”