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On the doorstep community store proving lifeline for locals

Published: 22 September 2023

On the doorstep community store proving lifeline for locals Sylvania Community Stores and Café in Pennsylvania

A not-for-profit community-led store and café is just one of the 89 good causes that are currently benefitting from the Exeter Community Lottery.

The Sylvania Community Stores and Café in Pennsylvania, Exeter, was revealed recently as one of the top ten good causes enjoying ticket sales from the Community Lottery.

When people play the weekly lottery they have a chance to choose which good cause to support. Fifty pence in every pound then goes to that cause, with 10p going towards the Exeter Central Fund. The rest of the money pays for prizes and the administration of the lottery. At the moment good causes are set to benefit from around £50,000 in total over the first 12 months.

Players of the lottery can also choose to nominate the money to a central fund which then gets distributed among good causes that are signed up.

Sylvania Drive – where the Stores and Café are located – used to have a convenience store but this closed down and the building stood empty for a number of years.

In summer 2020, local residents started to discuss the idea of trying to open the shop again.  Pennsylvania is an estate where a large number of people, especially the elderly, experience high levels of social isolation.

After much effort, Sylvania Community Stores Ltd was established in March 2021 as a FCA-registered community benefit society owned by its shareholder members and run by a small management committee and assisted by other volunteers.

The stores opened in July 2021 and continue to provide locals with a community shop and cafe that benefits all local residents. A post office service is now also available in the stores one day a week and there are children’s play facilities and a book library.

 “Those who use us love us,” said Pete Stevenson, Chair of the Community Stores and Café.

“We are different from supermarkets because we stock local produce such as honey and strawberries. We are also highly environmental in that we offer refillable bottles of soap and washing products. And, of course, we offer a friendly welcome with our multitude of events and activities – book-club, art class, pre-school group, board games, community choir and more.”

So asked why people should play the Exeter Community Lottery, Pete is quite frank: “This is a tricky one for me as I don’t gamble but clearly it’s a way to support a local worthy cause. That appears to be our experience. For example, shareholders who can’t get to our shop and cafe because they work away will purchase a few tickets each week as a gesture of support and I suppose – so they tell me -  there’s the slight flutter at the thought of winning!”

“Do have a go and help to keep us open,” he added.

Cllr Martin Pearce, Lead Councillor with responsibility for Communities, said: “This is what the Exeter Community Lottery is all about, supporting good causes on our doorstep. The Sylvania Stores and Café do a tremendous job in Pennsylvania and really is a fantastic local asset that deserves to be cherished by locals.”

It’s not too late for other community groups and good causes to sign up for Exeter Community Lottery and start benefitting from ticket sales.

Players have a one in 50 chance of winning a prize. Draws take place every Saturday with ticket holders in with a chance of scooping the top prize of £25,000.

The draw at the end of September also gives an opportunity for one lucky ticketholder to win a £1,500 gift card from IKEA.

Tickets cost just £1 (via direct debit or debit card) with the following prizes up for grabs:

  • Match six balls and win £25,000
  • Match five balls and win £2,000
  • Match four balls and win £250
  • Match three balls and win £25
  • Match two balls and win three tickets
  • Draws take place every Saturday at 8pm with winners notified by email. Players can choose which cause to support when playing the Exeter Community Lottery.

To buy tickets for the Exeter Community Lottery or to register a good cause, visit

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