A tiny village store in Sutherland is acting as middleman to a supermarket giant to get supplies to locals.
The Store, Laundrette & Café in Bettyhill has agreed to be the intermediary for the Co-op in Thurso, some 30 miles away.
The Co-op doesn’t do a delivery service, and doesn’t take phone payments.
Enter Joanna Mackenzie, who runs the Bettyhill store.
She agreed to set up the delivery service on behalf of the Co-op without thought to the potential impact on her own business.
Volunteers collect the Co-op orders in Bettyhill twice a week and take them out to customers in the community council areas of Melvich, Strathy and Bettyhill.
Joanna said: “We closed the café and began reinventing our business to help people.
“The Co-op was keen to help, and now we’re doing around 70 orders a week.
“I grew up here and we have always been community-minded.
“We do a lot of non-profit or free to help people.”
Local councillor Linda Munro brought the three community councils together to form a united response to the current crisis.
She said: “Some businesses are doing far more than we could reasonably hope them to be in the face of the crisis.
“Bettyhill store, and indeed the post office, are not only accepting of the Coop service being delivered, astoundingly they are enabling the service by supplying the volunteers.
“Now that is the definition of community.”
Peter Malone of Bettyhill post office said he has no issue with the Co-op deliveries.
He said: “We’ve never been anyone’s sole source of deliveries, we’ve always been where you top up.
“Ever since the crisis lots have people have come in to volunteer to help. We’re seeing the results of a really good community spirit.”
The Store is also delivering agricultural supplies to elderly crofters in the area on behalf of two livestock dealerships.
Joanna said: “They need things like feed, lamb’s milk and medications.
“We’re delivering about 40 orders a week, with volunteers using their pick-up trucks.”
Furloughed High Life Highland library/service point worker Catriona MacLeod is giving her time to help with the administration of the delivery service.
She said: “Some people have to travel an hour to get to the supermarket, so it’s reducing driving times.
“It’s about building on links and putting in place background networks which could apply to other situations.
“I hope we can carry on after the crisis is over.”