Independent retailer Shahid Ali is at the heart of an inspirational community project which has raised almost pound;500,000 to fund facilities for young people in his area of Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire.
Shahid, or Sid as he is known to his many customers, owns the local Londis convenience store and is the mastermind behind several schemes designed to tackle the anti-social behaviour of young people in the village. He is a fervent supporter of the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign, which is now attracting nationwide retailer support.
Alan Toft, chairman of MSYS campaign, comments: “Sid is a wonderful example of how independents are fully involved in their local communities. As a sole trader and family Features > Business, he proves that the MSYS activity is highlighting the essential place of the independent in the community.”
Sid’s involvement with the community began with the sponsorship of the local youth football team, but has progressed into instigating a community fundraising project to turn a local derelict playing field into an all-weather sports pitch. He is an outstanding Community Star, one of 600 retailers so far signed up to support MSYS.
Sid says: “I was fed up with the local community having nothing to offer the kids – especially those who are too young to go to pubs and nightclubs, but too old to sit at home with their parents. When I was a kid we used to go out and kick a ball about until late at night and that would keep us out of trouble.
“I started to campaign at the council to get some funds provided to turn the waste ground into something the kids could use. Eventually sponsorship was provided by Sport for Scotland to the value of pound;450,000, which enabled us to turn the ground into an all-weather full-size football pitch.
“It has taken three years to come to fruition but is now something used by everyone from the local schools in the daytime and the community at night.”
He was so impressed with the community working together for the sports pitch that he is now in the process of raising a further pound;100,000 to build an all-weather tennis court.
He adds: “Problems in the village, like vandalism, are blamed on the youth drinking culture, but it’s simpler than that – it’s down to boredom. With facilities like these the village has everything in place to improve its reputation as a better place to live.
“Instead of seeing youths hanging around the streets they are now kicking a football at the ground. A father of one of the local children who had started playing at the facility told me they were never previously interested in doing any exercise – so it’s helping on all fronts.”