UPDATE: Our Shop volunteers have decided to reopen after all, saying they ‘won’t be beaten.’ CCTV is still due to be installed.
A social food club shop in Margate will stay closed until CCTV and a security guard are put in place after racial abuse was hurled at a volunteer and a large group turned up and created a disturbance outside.
Our Shop, run by volunteers with Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet, offers goods at drastically reduced prices, meal kits, chances to learn new recipes, useful information sessions on nutrition and opportunities to taste new products.
Food is provided by organisations and groups including FareShare – which takes good quality surplus from right across the food industry and redistributes to charities- Kent Gleaners and Windmill Community Gardens allotments. The scheme is backed by county councillor Barry Lewis.
The shops in Margate and another in Ramsgate are run by volunteers, headed up by Sharon Goodyer.
Our Shop staff say yesterday (July 15) as the Margate store was due to close a woman customer became angry after learning there were no carrier bags. Volunteers say she then began to shout racial abuse at the manager.
Sharon said: “It’s just awful. A woman came in for her shop near the end of the day and then started to kick off because there were no carrier bags.
“The woman got irate and was asked to leave and then got out her phone took pictures of my manager and a volunteer and sent it to her friends/family. They then turned up so there was a group of jeering people outside.
“My manager is a wonderful, young, black woman who was then subjected to racial abuse. I want to make it clear we were in the right and will be prosecuting. We will also be doing some banning.
“We will not be opening at Margate until I am sure my team is protected and my customers are safe. We will be putting in CCTV and security and the people involved are banned for good.
“My manager is an absolutely wonderful woman, I am livid about this.”
Sharon says since the incident there has been much support from the community for Our Shop and her manager.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was contacted at 3.05pm following a report that a member of staff at a business in Margate High Street had been racially abused by a woman.
“It was then reported that others had arrived at the scene and made further abusive comments.
“Officers attended and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.”
Anyone who witnessed what happened or has any information which may assist is urged to call Kent Police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/124936/21.
You can also report anonymously to Crimestoppers in Kent by calling 0800 555 111 or using their anonymous online form.