Liverpool coffee shop owner recognised as ‘lockdown hero’ in Openreach’s Community Connectors awards

A Liverpool coffee shop owner has been presented with a Community Connectors Award by digital network provider Openreach in recognition for his support for vulnerable neighbours during lockdown.

Anthony Grice, who owns and runs Fika on Woolton Road, received the award for preparing and delivering supplies to more than 500 vulnerable local people when his business was forced to closed due to lockdown - funding his efforts with his own money. Since reopening, Anthony continues to make supplies available to vulnerable neighbours and has been steadfast in displaying uplifting messages outside the coffee shop to raise the spirits of people living and working in the local community.

Openreach launched the Community Connectors Awards in 2020 to recognise individuals and groups for their work supporting local residents and vulnerable neighbours during lockdown. More than 130 nominations from MPs across the UK were judged by the panel including Openreach engineers and former Culture Secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan of Cotes.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach, said: “We were inspired to launch the Community Connectors Awards by the efforts of our engineering team. The stories received from across the country have been inspiring and show how many people are working to make a difference and support their neighbours during lockdown.”

“Anthony hasn’t sought recognition but is a wonderful example to his community. I’m delighted and very grateful to be able to thank him for everything he continues to do to support the vulnerable in our society.”

Anthony Grice said: “I’d like to thank Paula Barker, MP, for putting me forward to receive the Openreach Community Connectors Award. I’d also like to thank the panel of judges at Openreach for selecting me as the winner to receive this award. It’s an absolute blessing. It’s been a tough 12 months and we’ve been looking after families around the city and in our community, who have been struggling financially and elderly people who’ve been isolating and been unable to get food. It’s an absolute honour to receive this award.”

Paula Barker, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who nominated Anthony for the award, said: “It is often in times of crisis that you see truly inspirational people do even more amazing things. Anthony Grice at FIKA is the epitome of that phrase and this award is real recognition of somebody who put others in hardship before himself. It is really well deserved.

“In Liverpool, Wavertree I have seen many amazing businesses go the extra mile to support the community during this pandemic. Anthony and FIKA can rightly and proudly take centre stage for their amazing contribution.”

As key workers, Openreach engineers have connected numerous field hospitals up and down the UK within days, also performing vital maintenance to keep families and businesses online and in contact during lockdown. Members of the engineering team have also camped out in remote parts of the UK to ensure local connectivity and volunteered in their spare time – performing roles including as delivery drivers for NHS blood supplies.