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Norwich Free Market

1780. Rahima Brandt
1781. Jamal Sealey

Rahima Brandt and Jamal Sealey, from Norwich, founded the ‘Norwich Free Market’ in 2020 to support local traders in their community and help combat the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Rahima Brandt and Jamal Sealey

The idea for the market came after Jamal and Rahima worked together on a soup kitchen during Ramadan, delivering to self-isolating households, and wanted to work together on a project that could encourage and empower people to sell their own produce, whilst building better community connections. Based on the Islamic Model of Madinah, traders are charged no fees and entry is free, with the market acting as a community hub hosting small businesses, makers, bakers, artists, growers, and street food vendors.

In a personal letter to Rahima, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“Alongside Jamal, you have created an innovative community hub which is supporting local suppliers to build back better from the pandemic. 

“Your fantastic initiative epitomises the uplifting spirit of community we have seen so much of since last year by bringing people together through local produce and good company!”

In a personal letter to Jamal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“Local markets are at the heart of a community and so I was inspired to learn of your wonderful initiative bringing local people and local businesses together in Norwich.

“‘The Norwich Free Market’ epitomises the uplifting spirit of community we have seen so much of since last year. Volunteers like yourself and Rahima are building back better from the pandemic.”

Rahima and Jamal said:

“We feel very honoured and grateful to have been recognised by the Prime Minister’s Office for this award. We began the ‘Norwich Free Market’ to help local people to recover from the effects of lockdown, both financial and mental. With generous donations from the Muslim community of the Ihsan Mosque and the support of our neighbours at the Wellbeing Centre and Theatre Royal, who provided us with their car park, we were able to offer free space to local small businesses (many of whom had just begun in lockdown) and bring people together socially in a safe outdoor environment. We have an incredible team of volunteers who work on everything from branding to cleaning up the space and this award is shared with each of them. We recently helped to launch the ‘Bradford Free Market’ and we hope that this award will help us take this powerful concept further afield to support more local community trading and give more people the opportunity to start businesses without costly overheads.”

Pictured below – Rahima, Jamal and the team behind Norwich Free Market outside Norwich Theatre Royal (Photos credit: Salsabil Morrison)

Rahima, Jamal and the Norwich Free Market team outside Norwich Theatre Royal

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