Paul from Queen of Greens in Liverpool tells us about his commitment to the Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg Project and the community he serves.
“I love doing my job. I’m really passionate about it. With the bus, you go out, and you’re serving the community.
When I heard that the Rose Vouchers were coming to Liverpool, I wanted to be involved. Selling fruit and veg from the bus is such a great idea because you go into people’s communities. It’s different from having a stall. Wherever I park the bus, it’s usually a maximum of a 10 minute walk from where the families live so that they can get to me easily. The families are always there waiting for me. When you turn the corner and you see 20-30 people there waiting for you there, it gives you a buzz; you know it’s going to be a good day.
You can tell people really appreciate it. When we first started the project, people weren’t as sure about accepting the Rose Vouchers, but now they really love them. I try and make everyone who comes on the bus feel comfortable.
I know most people who come to the bus and what they want. I know which families are cooking from scratch, and when I go to certain areas, such as more Muslim communities, I make sure I’ve got the things they want, like tomatoes, onions and bananas. If I don’t have those items, I feel I’ve let them down.
I fill the bus up with affordable produce. I’ll tell people how to cook things like cauliflower, as some families might not know what to do with it. They all talk to each other, and now my cauliflower sales have gone through the roof. It’s the same with avocados and asparagus; it’s just a little bit of knowledge.
At Picton Children’s Centre, I make sure to get there early so all the mothers waiting to take their kids to nursery or school can buy what they need. If it’s raining, I try to park where there’s some shelter. I say, “Bring the pram on”. It is working; it’s busier when the kids are back at school.
I see families grow up. It’s not just families with Rose Vouchers that shop on the bus. Even when they stop getting the vouchers, they’ll still come to me. The Rose Vouchers attract new customers as other people see families shopping on the bus and come on to see what they can get too.
Rose Vouchers are great for business. Some families top up with cash when spending their vouchers.
The biggest positive for me is seeing people meeting each other on the bus and getting big bags of veg. You see some of them with prams; they spend their Rose Vouchers and take home lots of veg. I think it’s one of the best ideas I’ve been part of. Alexandra Rose Charity really benefits so many people, especially with the cost of living crisis. I tell everyone about you. You’re making a difference.”