Coronavirus: Edinburgh shop supplies free Covid-19 ‘survival’ packs to those in need

Shop hands out hundreds of coronavirus packs to local elderly and infirm

A shop owner in northwest Edinburgh has forked out thousands of pounds in an effort to ensure his elderly and infirm customers have free access to life’s essentials during the coronavirus outbreak.

Zahid Iqbal, who runs Day-Today convenience store at Drylaw Shopping Centre, has been run off his feet handing out the free survival packs, which include one toilet roll, an anti-bacterial handwash, a packet of pocket tissues and one packet of paracetamol.

The goodwill gesture is open to anyone over the age of 65 and those with mobility issues facing a lengthy period of self-isolation.

Anyone unable to pick up their ‘survival’ pack can even have it delivered to their house for free by calling the shop.

Mr Iqbal, 34, says the idea came to him while accompanying his parents to a local supermarket, where they encountered a shocking number of empty shelves.

He said: “All the youngsters are picking stuff up and the older ones are being left out.

“We have lots of customers from the local care homes, as well as disabled customers, who can’t get hand sanitisers, loo rolls or anything at all.

“We just want to set a good example in this world.”

The Drylaw independent’s act of philanthropy follows a similar initiative at another Day-Today branded shop in Falkirk, which has also been handing out free essentials to those in need during the virus spread.

The panic buying of goods in Edinburgh and around the world has seen supermarket shelves empty at an unprecedented rate in recent weeks as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise.

The shop has handed out an incredible 550 of the packs in just 24 hours after a social media post advertising the fact went viral.

Mr Iqbal said the shop’s Facebook page has been viewed more than 800,000 times after it was shared by the popular online community group TRIM and Friends of West Pilton.

However, young proprietor, whose family-run store has served the local community for more than 15 years, admits Day-Today has been inundated with coronavirus pack requests and that the venture has come at great financial cost.

With each of the packs costing between 4 and 5 pounds to make, he revealed the initiative has already cost his business a whopping £5000.

But Zahid insists his loyal customers are worth every penny during these times of uncertainty.

He said: “Money can be made in the future… Right now, we need to do our part for the community.

“We want to help out for as long as we can manage and everybody needs to be doing their bit.

“If we run out of toilet rolls then the next thing we want to do is pasta. If there’s a lockdown people need to be able to look after themselves.

“The satisfaction you get helping people out is just amazing.”

Mr Iqbal added that currently the shop was refusing to take donations, but said Day-Today may consider it in the future depending on how things turn out.

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