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The sweet soul music of the post office

April 4, 2011
Post office

Post offices get people fired up

Post offices get people fired up. The mass post office closures of a few years ago saw opposition spring up all around the country. More recently, the closure of around 160 post offices last year and concerns over the Government’s plans for Royal Mail has got local communities concerned about what one campaigner called the ‘soul of the community’.

Putting the soul back into communities is at the heart of what Living Streets does, and as part of our campaign to keep essential public services within walking distance, we’re crowning the local Post Office this week’s ‘Neighbourhood Hero.’

According to our recent poll, a third of British adults over the age of 55 cannot walk to their nearest post office. A third of British adults feel isolated, or know someone who feels isolated, because we can’t access these kinds of basic amenities. Some of society’s most vulnerable members – older people, people with disabilities and the less well off – rely most on access to post offices for banking services, pension payments and just some contact and conversation.

Nigel, from Cardiff, says ‘We have an excellent thriving village shop that includes a post office. The nearest PO is further away, about 4 miles, and would require a bus (every half an hour) journey of 20 minutes and a ten minute walk. The shop/PO is the hub of the village and as well as being a very well stocked shop and newsagents it displays village posters, village mag, delivers newspapers if required, cash machine for people whose card is not accepted by the PO, free samosas to all customers at christmas as a thank you etc. This would all be lost if the shop closed and many people, particulary those who are not so mobile, would lose all these facilities and equally important would feel much more isolated.’

Easy access on foot to basic local services is a key part of a walking-friendly neighbourhood that provides a hospitable environment for all. Living Streets is campaigning to make sure neighbourhoods and new housing are planned with the ease of walking in mind – and to give communities a voice when essential shops and services, like post offices, have their use changed.

So do you think your local post office is a neighbourhood hero? Sign up to the campaign and tell us more about it.

– Anne

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