Empty stalls suffer crisis at local Leicester market in post lockdown

by Azim Saiyed

Local market trade is on the decline post-lockdown due to retiring and self-isolating traders in the Leicester market.  

 A high number of stalls can be seen empty and abandoned following the end of lockdown due to self-isolating traders which some fear is portraying the market’s image as a dying institution.

Paul Abbot, 56, a grocer with 34 years of experience in the trade, said: “If it stays like this, it’s going to hurt us.”

The increasing number of corner shops and the dominance of large supermarket chains are also preventing the local market of Leicester from thriving.

A high number of stall can be seen empty and market is also unpopulated

 Mr Abbott, also known as Bud, described it as the “heartbeat of Leicester” but said it is no longer the same as before. 

“Not only the fruit and vegetable trade stalls have been hit by this adversity but the dry goods stalls such as clothing and toys have been badly affected,” said Mr Abbott. 

He believes the availability of the lockdown business grants from the government have resulted in many new local businesses opening which has impacted the market stalls negatively. 

The good fortune of home-grown produce has meant that there have been no consequences of a lack of foreign export trade especially in the current crisis of HGV driver shortages. 

“Trade is slower towards the winter,” said Mr Abbott. The market traders will have to prepare themselves to face this hardship. The issue is magnified with the additional problem of language barriers between traders and customers who come from ethnic minority customers. 

56 years-old Paul Abbott applying his speciality skills in the market trade.

Mr Abbott’s busy work schedule consists of buying and collecting produce from Leicester’s wholesale market in the morning at 4am, then tirelessly selling the produce throughout the day at the local market. 

Bud’s stall contains a variety of produce, more specifically a maximum of up to 70 different types of produce. 

Originally, he started with selling fruit but then due to customer demand also started to sell vegetables as well. 

Mr Abbott said: “We can only pray for better times”, as lockdown has ended but the fight against covid-19 is still very much alive which means the market trade remains unstable and un-secure. 

Seen it, heard it, read it: Hannah Smith

Students on De Montfort University’s Arts and Entertainment Journalism module pick the films, plays, music, TV shows and books that shaped them.

My favourite film

It has to be a classic Hugh Grant film, Micky Blue Eyes. I don’t think I’ve forced so many people to watch a movie more than this one. Without giving too much away if you haven’t watched it (which you should), it’s a feel-good film about love and a criminal family. This is the film I watch over and over again just to make me laugh, and if you disagree, in the words of Micky Blue Eyes, ‘get out of here.’

The last film that made me cry 

I pride myself on not crying over films, weird thing to be proud of, I know, but I tend not to get upset over fictional characters I will never meet. Call me heartless, but it’s just a film at the end of the day.

The worst film I saw

Man on a Ledge is 100% the worst film I have ever wasted my time watching. The film is quite literally what the title says a man on a ledge, and that is it. I don’t think we even find out why he’s on the ledge. An hour into it, and nothing has happened, and you get the feeling that you want to just push this guy off just to create some thrill or excitement. 

The first time I went to the theatre

I can’t remember the first show I went to watch. Still, I remember watching the pantomimes every Christmas as a kid and the excitement to watch them is something I’ll never forget. From Cinderella to Puss in Boots, I went every year till I was about 10 and loved every second of it. 

My favourite play

The Women in Black. This is the most simplistic play I have ever seen and the one that had me jumping out of my seat. It’s a play that played tricks on your mind and made me scared of my own shadow. What also makes it my favourite was that I watched it with my drama class and it was the last major thing we did as a group. However, I still feel the pain in my hand after the guy sitting next to me clung to me for dear life.

The film series I’m hooked on

Hands down, it must be Harry Potter. I’ve lost count on how many times I have watched them all and can recite scenes from memory. I say that I have watched them all but the first one. I watched it once when I was little, and it scared me so much that I refused to watch it again. It wasn’t the fact the film was scary, no; it was the fact a guy had a face in the back of his head. Maybe I’ll brave it one day soon.

My favourite TV show

A show that was made before I was born (typical), Channel 4’s Teachers. Don’t think there is anything better than watching a bunch of teachers running a dysfunctional school and getting drunk every night. It’s my go-to essay-writing show as you can just stick it on in the background and pick it up at any point.

My favourite piece of music

The Farm Song by David Hunter. This song came out just before the pandemic started and was definitely the upbeat, sing-your-heart-out song I needed through it all. I am always humming the song when I’m trying to think or start singing a line or two. In fact, I love the music (and David) that much my boyfriend got David to sing it, along with a personal message for my birthday.

The lyric I love

This is actually from the musical Be More Chill, in the song Loser, Geek or Whatever. “I’ve earned the right to selfishly be all for one and one for me,” I heard it at just the right point when people just wanted to walk over me, so this lyric gave me something to go by, and I still do. 

The first gig I saw

Classic girl by going to the Wanted as my first concert. I remember listening to the CDs on the drive down and the ringing in my ears for the rest of the night. Not really a fan of theirs anymore, but as first concerts go it was a good one.

The best gig I saw

Really not acting my age when I say this, but it has to be Rick Astley for the best one I saw live. Just me, my mum and a bunch of middle-aged women, and anyone would think my mum had dragged me. Nope, I was more excited than her to go and it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. 

In 2020 I watched David Hunter’s online stream concert, well of course, it was good. It’s David Hunter!

The instrument I can play

I never really stick at learning instruments, as singing has always come easier to me. Still, I can half play the piano, and recently I’ve picked up the ukulele. Not a real instrument, but I can play songs people recognise, so that’s all that matters. 

The instrument I wish I’d learnt

Not an instrument as such, but to use the very poor skills I have in playing instruments to write something myself. I always go to but then can never be bothered.

My favourite author

I stumbled across this author when I ordered a ton of books during the lockdown, Holly Jackson. I have just finished reading the final book, and I couldn’t put it down. It had me gripped to the last second. Books are meant to be relaxing and to read at night, but I was up till three in the morning just to finish it. 

The book I’m reading

What am I not reading? I have about 10 books on the go as I read a few pages and get distracted. When I have time, I will pick up the War of the Worlds again and finally finish it since I’ve been putting it off for ages.  

The artists/musicians/actors/comedians/authors I’d have at my fantasy dinner party

I’m pretty sure I had to answer this question in primary school, and I said, Shakespeare. I don’t even like Shakespeare that much, so who knows where that answer comes from. Honestly, though I have no idea who I would invite


The Tiger King, most people’s favourite, but it was so overhyped, and I got bored so fast. It was the weirdest show I have watched, and it’s hard to believe it all, but each to their own, I guess. 


BBCs Robin Hood, this was a staple show when I was growing up, along with Merlin. It amazes me though, at how little people have actually watched it. It’s the perfect show with a bit of action, history and romance, a feel-good show. Well, till someone gets killed, that dampens the mood.

My guilty pleasure

Old music and I don’t mean Oasis or the Beatles. I have a side playlist that is full of songs from people like Bernard Cribbins and George Formby. Those little songs you hear your nan singing every now and again, yes, those songs are songs I love to listen to. Think I was born before my time. 

Thousands turn out for return of Leicester Diwali lights switch-on

By Luke Williamson

Leicester’s Diwali celebrations kicked off with the annual lights switch-on this weekend on Belgrave Road.

Thousands gathered on the Golden Mile for the first time in two years on Sunday [OCT24] after last year’s celebrations took place virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

This year’s switch-on differed from previous years with giant screens at the Belgrave Circle as well as on the junction of Wand Street and at the Cossington Street Recreation Ground showing a pre-recorded video showcasing some Leicester “classical and Bollywood” performers.

The Wheel of Light also returned, alongside other funfair games, food stalls and other stalls selling a variety of items.

The Wheel of Light illuminates the night’s sky. PICTURE. Luke Williamson

The people attending were very happy to be back out and amongst after last year’s muted festivities.

Bali Singh, from Leicester, said: “Diwali is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate together.

“We all just want to be out here all together and having fun, that is what it is about.

“It is much better now after last year’s lockdown that we can celebrate together here,” he added.

The usual firework display did not take place, with a Fire Garden on Cossington Street Recreation Ground replacing them.

The multiple screens aimed to reduce the crowd levels and close contact with people as fears over the rising Covid-19 cases grow.

Large scale events in other cities such as Nottingham and Manchester have been cancelled but the Diwali celebrations as well as the Abbey Park Bonfire Night display will all still go ahead.

The Belgrave Road Neighbourhood Centre bright in the lights at the Diwali Light’s Switch-on. PICTURE. Luke Williamson

The most recent seven-day average number of cases in Leicester per 100,000 was 342.9 compared to Nottingham’s average of 264 and Manchester’s 317.1.

Councillor Piara Singh Clair, Deputy city mayor for culture, told the council’s website: “We were determined to do all we could to bring the Diwali celebrations back to the streets of Leicester this year while making public safety our priority.

“The three giant screens mean that people won’t need to congregate in the same space at the same time.

“We hope we can encourage people to join the celebrations at different times throughout the evening,” he added.

Leicester’s celebrations are thought to be the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India, and they return on Diwali Day itself with more festivities on Thursday, November 4.

You can read more about the city’s plans for the Diwali celebrations by visiting the website, https://www.visitleicester.info/whats-on/diwali-day-p723901.

Mental health report finds 49% of adults in England negatively affected by pandemic

By Thomas Carter

Nearly half of adults (49 per cent) in England say the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, recent figures have shown.

The report, commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), also found that more than a third of adults (34 per cent or 15.1 million people) said they did not know what to do to improve their mental wellbeing.

As a result, OHID has launched the new ‘Every Mind Matters’ (EMM) campaign, which seeks to help people better their mental health.

Christopher Pendleton, 28, who struggled with homesickness and low self-esteem during the pandemic, said: “The main thing with my mental health is lack of self-confidence and a feeling of ‘what do I bring to the table?’. I undervalue myself a lot.

“I like to keep in touch with my friends, but at times I struggle to do so, then finding it hard to reconnect when I feel like I don’t deserve to.”

The percentage of adults (%) that say their mental health was negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic (Credit: Thomas Carter, Canva)

According to a press release by OHID, the new EMM campaign “empowers people to look after their mental health by directing them to free, practical tips and advice.”

“By answering five simple questions through the EMM platform, people can get a tailored ‘Mind Plan’, giving them personalised tips to deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better and feel more in control.”

Now a facilitator for mental health charity Andy’s Man Club, which has more than 60 locations across the country, Christopher added: “We run local support groups for those who struggle with their mental health.

“It’s a safe, non-judgemental space, where we question each other and talk about our problems.

“We’re all in the room for the same reason, and it’s interesting because you meet people who may have had similar experiences to you in their life.

“If you’re struggling mentally, it’s important to not just talk to those who simply listen, but those that give advice on how to move forward.”

Additionally, the OHID report found that younger adults were struggling the most, with 57 per cent of 18-34 year olds saying their mental health was negatively affected as a result of the pandemic.

A number of celebrities have also come out in support of the new campaign, such as Stephen Fry, Jay Blades and Arlo Parks.

For more information regarding the EMM campaign, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/

Leicester City Council provides help to job seekers

By Shantelle Gondo

Leicester libraries are helping those seeking jobs within their neighbourhoods.

In alignment to the Government’s Plan for Jobs, Jobcentre Plus has joined forces with the Leicester City Council helping residents to find jobs.

Residents book appointment at Highfield Library for Job opportunities – by City Council

The scheme aims to support and help those highly affected during the pandemic and is looking to hire 13,500 new work coaches across England, having some already in place this week from today, Thursday (OCT28).

Paul Gisbey, who is the Jobcentre Service Leader, said: “We are constantly looking for opportunities to reach out to our local communities.

“Undertaking outreach services in local libraries is an essential part of that work.

“We are very grateful to Leicester City Council for making this possible because this will be a valuable service.

“Working in the community supports some of our most vulnerable customers and I know it will make a difference to the people looking for work and seeking support.”

The service is open to everyone, and residents are required to make an appointment by calling their local library.

Other than job seeking, the services also include helping individuals with calculating in-work benefits, interview coaching, advice and specialist support to tackle barriers residents may be facing such as childcare and health.

A Leicester local resident, Anita Zayena, 26, said: “I think it’s really considerate that the council is helping people seek for jobs, because sometimes it gets really difficult especially being a single mother losing your job during the pandemic, it really can be stressful.”

Work coaches are available in these areas:

  • St Barnabas Library
  • Beaumont Leys Library
  • Pork Pie Library & Community Centre
  • New Park Centre
  • Highfields Library

For more information and advice visit: https://news.leicester.gov.uk/news-articles/2021/october/job-seeking-support-in-more-city-libraries/ or call any of the Libraries listed above.