RADCLIFFE Market “will absolutely be reopening” when the coronavirus lockdown eases its managers have vowed ­— despite warnings that similar social enterprises could be in danger of disappearing “just when they are needed most”.

Like all businesses and organisations, Radcliffe Market has been strikingly affected by the unprecedented conditions created by the pandemic.

But in spite of the challenges, its managers and stall holders say they have adapted to "run a very lean mean machine".

Although some traders have been forced to shut up shop due to Covid-19, many more, and food stalls in particular, are still open and continuing to be busier than ever.

Many of the food stalls have now also started to provide a popular takeaway service.

And two new traders ­— a barbers shop and a ceramics company ­— have been welcomed to the market in the last few weeks.

Bury Times: Radcliffe MarketRadcliffe Market

Ricky Davies, Radcliffe Market’s managing director, told the Bury Times: “It’s not been easy for anybody at the moment, but it’s not critical for us.

“We still have stalls open and they have been doing very well.

“They are gaining business during this period because of the way we are able to respond to individual people’s requirements.

“We have started doing deliveries, for example, and they have proven popular.”

With its large open layout and space for approximately 300 people, Mr Davies further says he is confident that Radcliffe Market can return to being a place where people can safely come and enjoy themselves, "even with the limits of social distancing regulations", when the lockdown is lifted.

Some difficult decisions have had to be made by the market during the lockdown, however, and its staff have been placed on furlough meaning it is largely being run by volunteers.

The market has also had to close its toilets ­— the only public conveniences in the town ­— to prevent infection risk.

However, the hardest part of the lockdown, Mr Davies says, is that the market is, for the time being, no longer able to further its community work.

“The big problem for us is that we can’t build and engage in any of the social projects we had,” he said.

“We were doing a lot of good in the community. But the social impact of the lockdown has just obliterated us.”

Bury Times: A busy Radcliffe Market Hall before lockdown. Its managers hope people will soon be able to return and enjoy the market while social distancingA busy Radcliffe Market Hall before lockdown. Its managers hope people will soon be able to return and enjoy the market while social distancing

Mr Davies’ comments come as community leaders warn that, without additional financial resources, social enterprises around the region could be lost.

In a bid to prevent this from happening, Greater Manchester voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector (VCSE) leaders have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, urging for increased support.

Despite the Government’s announcement of £750 million of coronavirus funding for charities, an additional £19.5 million is needed to avoid losing front line organisations, the GM VCSE leaders say.

They have also warned that current furlough schemes and Small Business Grants do not work for VCSE organisations, "leaving them to fall through the gaps".

Warren Escadale, chairman of the GM VCSE Leadership Group, said: “Our sector and our communities have played an amazing role in addressing the impacts of this crisis.

“Unfortunately, as we emerge, the social and economic damage will become clearer and starker.

“As financial reserves run lower and lower, those communities hardest hit will need the vital support and action of their voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations more than ever.

“We endanger those most in need if we let these amazing, everyday cornerstones of our lives and communities go under. And without action, many will.”