More than £1.5 million raised for small businesses through Pay It Forward campaign

By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter

More than £1.5 million has been raised for small and independent businesses in London that have struggled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 400 small businesses in the capital have benefited from the Pay It Forward London campaign, which was announced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan during the first lockdown in April.

The crowdfunding campaign allowed Londoners to support their favourite local businesses by paying in advance for goods and services that could be received once restrictions eased.

Sadiq Khan said: “I want to thank Londoners for the incredible, life-changing support they have shown for their much-loved small and independent businesses – reaching this latest milestone really is something. From cafes, restaurants, music venues and bars, to boxing gyms, swimming clubs, and pottery studios, it’s been great to see local businesses benefiting from this scheme and the generosity of Londoners.

“Hospitality, leisure and culture in particular have really struggled this year and many livelihoods depend on the trade they normally do over the Christmas period. That’s why I’ve called on the Government to provide compensation for lost trade over the festive period.”

There were more than 20,000 contributions to the scheme, and donations were matched through the Mayor’s Back to Business fund in July that helped businesses adapt to the pandemic by increasing their online presence or by implementing physical social distancing measures.

The historic Stanfords travel book shop in Covent Garden received more than £140,000 from the Pay It Forward scheme and a further £5,000 from the Back to Business scheme that went towards making the store Covid-secure and improving its website.

Vivien Godfrey, chair and CEO of Stanfords, said: “We knew Pay It Forward London might be our only chance to save Stanfords from closing our doors. The funds we have raised from caring and generous Londoners have supported Stanfords and the jobs of many staff.

“In addition to the financial support, the publicity created by our crowdfunding campaign has boosted visits to our Covent Garden shop and our website. The entire Stanfords team are extremely grateful.”

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