St John’s shopping centre is a Liverpool institution and for many people is as much a part of the city as The Beatles and the Liver Birds.
Following the past few months of lockdowns and restrictions, the guys behind St John’s decided now was the time to give something back to the city. Now was the time to make people smile.
Their new One Million Smiles campaign has one simple aim, to make people smile. We caught up with Centre Manager Neil Ashcroft to find out how they’re putting smiles on faces across the city.
Can you tell us more about the One Million Smiles campaign?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on everyone in Liverpool. It’s been a stressful time for everyone really, so we decided to launch a campaign that would bring smiles back to the city – one million to be precise!
I know it’s an ambitious aim, but by sharing positive content on social media, giving away some freebies, putting on entertainers in and around the Centre and surprising shoppers with random acts of kindness, I reckon we can get Liverpool smiling again.
How can people get involved in the campaign?
Smile! It sounds simple, but we’re trying to spread some positivity during these trying times so smile and help spread some optimism amongst your friends, family and colleagues.
You can also pop down to St John’s where on any given day, you may find yourself being entertained, given a freebie or perhaps even be the subject of a random act of kindness.
I’d also encourage everyone to get involved on social media. Follow St Johns’ Instagram and Facebook accounts and share our One Million Smiles posts. There are a mix of videos, fun jokes and uplifting quotes to share. Again, it’s about making people smile and spreading some happiness throughout Liverpool.
Why do you think it’s so important for businesses and venues across Liverpool to give back to the community?
I would say now, more than ever, it’s important for businesses and venues to play their part in the local community. We’re more than just somewhere for people to get their shopping in. At St Johns we’ve been running all kinds of events over the past 3 years to help local people. For example, last year we held Liverpool’s largest job fair connecting local people to local jobs. We’ve also been running initiatives for elderly and vulnerable people such as Free Tea Tuesdays where they can visit the Centre and be treated to a complimentary cup of tea and an opportunity to socialise. We’ve also been trying to improve the environment and air quality in the City centre too with the installation of our living green wall opposite the bus station. It’s the largest green wall in the country outside of London and should make the City an even greener, more pleasant place.
What can people expect if they visit St Johns in the ‘new normal’?
Here in St Johns we’ve tried to keep the shopping experience as close to ‘normal’ as possible. We haven’t closed entrances or implemented one-way systems instead we have used new technology to monitor the number of shoppers in the Centre at any one time. This way customers can shop worry free, safe in the knowledge that we are carefully managing the shopping environment. We’ve also installed hand sanitiser stations across the Centre and implemented a rigorous cleaning regime.
I would say having all these new measures in place has helped shoppers feel confident they are shopping in a centre which is doing everything it can to stop the spread of the virus.
The introduction of mandatory face coverings has also helped to improve the confidence of shoppers and we are seeing the vast majority of shoppers comply.
What are some of your plans to reach One Million Smiles?
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got quite a few initiatives planned such as smile worthy giveaways, random acts of kindness and contributions to the local community. For example, we recently supported a local family by buying complete school uniforms and accessories for their children.
We’ll also have some fun activities taking place in the Centre as we approach Christmas, so keep an eye out!