Loyalty to Ossett initiative brings the local community together

Ossett image by Nick Oliver smilecreative.co.uk

Ossett image by Nick Oliver smilecreative.co.uk - Credit: Archant

An historic market town works together to strengthen its community with some simple but clever ideas

Busy market day in Ossett

Busy market day in Ossett - Credit: Archant

If ever there was a need just lately to bring people together it was in the wake of the European Union referendum. The outcome didn’t seem to matter to most of the people of Ossett in West Yorkshire who were going to stick by each other come what may.

And that’s exactly what happened when businesses and community organisations came out in force to support each other at the launch of a new ‘loyalty to Ossett’ initiative. The campaign was already in its early stages before the EU referendum but its launch has helped people focus on another way of working together.

One of the team who created the Love Ossett loyalty card scheme, Debbie Squires, a family delicatessen owner, said the aim from the beginning was to help build a stronger community. ‘There is just something about Ossett, the people, it’s a fantastic town with a good community spirit and we just wanted to help make it even stronger.’ Debbie had been impressed with the launch of a similar loyalty scheme in Chapel Allerton, Leeds where loyalty cardholders were rewarded for their support with special offers and who helped to raise funds for community development. She believed the scheme could work for the businesses and local organisations in Ossett.

‘We are up to around 80 businesses now,’ said Debbie soon after the launch. ‘We promoted the scheme on a Facebook page called ‘you know you have lived in Ossett when....’ when we started introducing lists of businesses each day, simply saying they’re in the scheme. This really got everyone intrigued. Then we revealed all and our website went live, and we launched on Twitter.

Debbie Squires of Squires family delicatessen in Ossett

Debbie Squires of Squires family delicatessen in Ossett - Credit: Joan Russell

‘By now businesses started asking us if they could join. In two days at least another 15 companies joined us. We sold around 200 loyalty cards on launch day. The figure will have risen as people buy online and the feedback from the public has been fabulous. Everyone thinks it’s a fantastic idea… helping Ossett to grow.

‘We have a massive variety of businesses taking part from small home-run concerns which haven’t had the ability to get themselves known much until now, through the loyalty scheme, to much larger companies.

‘Everyone from florists and bridal shops and cake makers to cafes, pubs and restaurants as well as men’s and women’s clothing stores, interiors shops, estate agent and even an exotic pet shop. The list goes on.

‘We have a number of things in mind to keep things going. We will have a draw every so often when the winner will receive a £50 gift card which they can use in any business on the scheme.

Ossett Town Hall

Ossett Town Hall - Credit: Joan Russell

‘We are going to also be selling Love Ossett gift cards. We would like to organise a Love Ossett day when all member businesses will come into the town centre and talk about what they do. They will bring their products to show and sell. This is just at the talking stage so we have lots to do yet to develop the idea further. We will be constantly posting the different rewards and offers on our Love Ossett website page, on Twitter and Facebook page.

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‘The money we raise will be made available to anybody who is doing something for Ossett, whether it is a church or school or an individual. Everyone can apply and it will go to a fair vote. Projects who win support will be advertised as funded by Love Ossett so people can see their money is going back into their community.

‘I’m hoping we shall have a Christmas market up and running this year too. Our next meeting will discuss what are doing next, so there will be lots more to come.’