Proud recent recipients of the British Empire Medal, Kuldeep and Balbir Dhillon own and run Locking Stumps Nisa Local in Birchwood, Warrington, and have now raised over £15,000 for local causes.

Through Nisa’s Making a Difference Locally (MADL) charity and their own personal donations, the community in Birchwood has benefited from the generosity and community minded approach from the husband-and-wife team.

“Locking Stumps is one of the areas of Birchwood, a mixed community with social and private housing,” said Kuldeep.

“A lot of the private housing backs onto the golf course. There are people here who are struggling to make ends meet like there are everywhere. We had a meeting with Nisa’s Making a Difference Locally team and explained we wanted to directly help the people who come in the shop.

“We didn’t want to give to a national-based charity because it’s this community who pays for mine and my family’s living. Those are the people who should benefit from the charity work we do.

“We’ve raised funds for Locking Stumps Primary School which is right behind the shop – things like helping with the costs of sports kits and equipment. We’ve helped the community centre – which is Locking Stumps Youth Club but is much more than that. It’s a real hub where there’s a repair shop, mums and tots groups, and senior citizen coffee mornings and afternoon socials.

“People have been very isolated, especially after Covid. I think it’s important for the residents’ mental health that there’s a place that everyone can mix and chat. Also, it’s a place where residents can get a good meal for £1, so it’s a really important resource. There’s something going on there every day.

“We’ve also raised money for Warrington-wide services such as the local food bank. This wasn’t through Making a Difference Locally, but my wife Balbir cooked curries at home. We sold them in the shop and raised nearly £4,000 to buy food for the food bank.

“As part of Making a Difference Locally, Balbir prepares a meal every Thursday for up to 25 homeless people, and Nisa have come along to give us a hand with that recently. I think this should be a model for other Nisa shopkeepers because it helps bind us more closely with our customers.”

Kuldeep and Balbir are not primarily motivated to do good works because it is good for business. They believe it makes them happy. As Sikhs, in their culture helping to feed others who are vulnerable and in need is deeply rooted.

“We were brought up to believe that providing food is the most important duty we have towards others less fortunate than ourselves. We’re from an area in India which is about 10 miles away from Amritsar which is where every day, the Golden Temple serves 100,000 meals to the community.

“There’s an idea of sameness and equality. Everyone sits down to eat together in their common humanity. No one is turned away. Here, we sell food and we give food away, so you could say we’ve taken that message to heart,” laughs Kuldeep.

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