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Keeping it local in the lakes district

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SHOP LOCAL Martin Murphy promoting the new Lakes Card in time for Christmas

Ballinrobe
Ger Flanagan

A NOVEL initiative aimed at providing a much-needed economic boost to local businesses in the Ballinrobe, Cong and Clonbur areas for the Christmas period is set to rival the successful One4All voucher scheme.
Ballinrobe Community Development Council (CDC) and Ballinrobe Enterprise Organisation (BEO) have joined forces to establish the Lakes Gift Card, which can be spent in up to 85 different businesses in the surrounding region.
A brainchild of well-known Ballinrobe newsagent Martin Murphy, the initiative has been in the works for a while and the committees who established the idea are targeting large local companies as a way of distributing the voucher to the people.
“We really wanted to have something professional and to make it as easy to use for people as possible,” Richard Burke, Charperson of Ballinrobe Enterprise Organisation told The Mayo News. “We have some major employers in the area and we have successfully approached a number of them so that they can offer their employees the choice of a Lakes Gift Card as their Christmas bonuses, along with the One4All.
“We had planned on doing this before Covid-19, but I think the timing now is very good because it is a great way to track money for the area as you’re condensing it down where the spend is going and the local people are getting something out of it.”
The gift card is a prepaid Mastercard and is available to buy online or in Martin Murphy’s Newsagents in the town and it will work in local car garages, physiotherapists, supermarkets, dry cleaners and many more outlets in the area.
Burke stated that the committee were keen to extend the usage of the gift card to nearby villages of Clonbur, Cong, Kilmaine and Ballintubber, as it ‘was going to be beneficial to everyone’ in the wider community.
The Ballinrobe CDC and BEO are funding up to 50 percent of the costs for the scheme, while Cllr Michael Burke has covered the rest through his general municipal allocation (GMA) funding.

Community spirit
Martin Murphy believes the gift card will provide much-needed support for the local shops in a time where they have been hit hard due to the pandemic.
“The pandemic has brought out a great community spirit in the town,” he said. “Ballinrobe CDC has been out doing voluntary work, shopping for people who couldn’t get out. The timing is perfect to introduce a gift card, it’s a way to show support for local businesses and give something back to the community. It’s a fabulous quality card.
“We’re lucky in that we were allowed to open during the lockdown as an essential shop. I love coming to work, I’ve been here running the shop since I was 16 but it was stressful in the first few months as we got used to the new regulations. Customers have been fantastic though, everyone is wearing masks and social distancing.
“We’re approaching the Christmas period. A good Christmas gets you through January and February. This year though, I see more people doing their shopping locally instead of heading to Galway and with the card they can spend in businesses across the area. It’s brilliant to see employers getting behind the scheme too.”
The committee will also be promoting the gift card to the diaspora of the area as a gift for a family member or friend who still lives in the area.
They’re also hoping that people will stay local and shop local.
“This initiative will give the community an extra boost that we may not have had,” Burke said. “I think above any year people will try and get what they need around the place and I think it has been built into the psyche of people that they’re going to do as much as they can locally.
“So we are asking people if they do get the option from your employer of a gift card, choose the Lakes Gift Card, that’s the one to have this Christmas.”