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Glemsford’s Arc Refill and Sustainability Hub, near Sudbury, eager to harness ethos of collaboration within communities

A new eco-focused refill shop is coming to Glemsford, as part of a non-profit initiative to boost community connection and sustainability in Suffolk.

Community interest company Access R Community (Arc) is applying the finishing touches to the Arc Refill and Sustainability Hub at Clockhouse Farm, ahead of its imminent soft launch.

The zero-waste shop will sell whole foods, cleaning products and other items without the use of packaging – instead inviting customers to bring a reusable bag or jar and fill their containers with what they need.

Maxine Jackson and Farley Boxhall, co-directors of Arc, inside the new store. Picture: Mark Westley
Maxine Jackson and Farley Boxhall, co-directors of Arc, inside the new store. Picture: Mark Westley

Arc co-founder Maxine Jackson explained that she wanted to set up the company to encourage more community collaboration and sharing, which she felt had been lost in many communities.

To do so, she teamed up with Farley Boxhall, of the Long Melford-based support service Breakout, which helped to secure a warm spaces grant so they could run a public hub in the village, and another in Glemsford, during the cold winter months.

The pair also established a regular farmers and craft market, which is held at the Long Melford Old School on the first Saturday of each month, showcasing local traders, makers and producers.

Maxine told SuffolkNews: “After a period of looking at mental health in our communities, it occurred to me that a lot of these problems are due to a disconnection we have from one another.

“I wanted to provide an antidote to that by sharing resources and materials, and getting that reciprocity and generosity going. It’s about having that nice feeling of living in a nice space with nice people around you.

“During our time running the market, we could really see there was a gap in the environmental refill type of venture.

“Reducing waste and up-cycling is quite close to my values, so I thought, ‘let’s open a refill shop’.”

Alongside the Refill and Sustainability Hub, Arc is also launching new online directories for people to share goods and services, under the title of Share, Care and Repair.

This scheme is intended to reduce waste by providing an outlet for surplus food or household items to be recycled, as well as enabling people to offer practical support, such as organising walks or litter picks, or repairing broken goods.

Maxine stated that income from the refill shop would go towards facilitating the Share, Care and Repair project.

“The profits are going back into the community, and we will be listening to people on where they want that to go,” she said.

“The idea is that we’ll have subscribers, who will have access to an online portal, where they can share tangible items in our local area.

“Our values are really to support local economies and for people to know that the produce they buy is traceable and the money is going to local traders.

“I think we’ve gone into this idea with the hope that we can encourage lifestyle changes and also provide a venue for that convenience.

“We want to make it inclusive and accessible for people to make those lifestyle changes. I think more people would feel they can make the changes if it didn’t seem so difficult. It can be convenient.”

Maxine added that there had been great support and generosity from the community to help prepare the Arc Refill and Sustainability Hub for its upcoming launch, such as the provision of free labour and materials.

To stay up to date with Arc’s ventures, including the new shop’s opening time, go online to connect2arc.com.