Jarrow shopkeeper who went the 'extra mile' for the community shares his lockdown story
A kind-hearted Jarrow businessman has shared his experience after months of supporting the community during the pandemic.
Nico Ali, who runs the Premier shop in Edinburgh Road on Jarrow’s Scotch Estate was hailed an ‘unsung hero’ in light of his efforts for the community during the coronavirus crisis.
The shopkeeper, who has run the business with brother Taz Ali for almost three decades, sprung into action when the lockdown was imposed in March.
With panic-buying leaving supermarket shelves bare, Nico began delivering free milk and bread to vulnerable residents on the estate.
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This soon led to donations for stretched local food banks and NHS staff on the frontline in the region’s hospitals.
It became a full-time operation, surprising residents with birthday cakes, pizza deliveries, signed footballs and even funding haircuts for his elderly neighbours when restrictions were lifted in July.
Nico has supported hundreds of people and his efforts were even recognised with an appearance of Channel 4’s Unsung Heroes.
Now he has put pen to paper to share his experience in his own words.
The Extra Mile, released on Wednesday, July 22, takes a look back at his journey over the last four months, with the stories of some of those who have been most touched by his kindness.
He says he was inspired to write and self-publish the 40-page book by the elderly residents who hadn’t been able to follow his journey online.
"A lot of the older people I know didn’t have access to the internet and they were always asking me what I was up to next,” Nico said.
"I’ve built really good relationships with the residents throughout this experience and I wanted to share it with them.”
He added: "I was quite emotional writing it, it’s been an incredibly journey and I feel privileged that I have been able to help so many wonderful people.”
The Extra Mile is available from the Premier shop on Edinburgh Road, or via the Premier Scotch Estate Facebook page, for £4.
A percentage of profits will be donated to the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.