Supporting local businesses during lockdown


39steps helped raise over £2,500 to help support local Southside businesses during lockdown.

With help from a lovely local lady, Ilona McDowell and The Morningside Traders Association, we designed and built a simple but effective directory and fundraising website to help support local businesses during this difficult time.

It wasn’t fun being a retail business owner back in March 2020. Frantically trying to move their offline business to online, many were left despairing while examples of the fortunate few, who ‘pivoted’ their businesses, were paraded in the media. Oh, isn’t lockdown great! Not.

Lockdown was a devastating shock to us all. It created a terrifying threat to small business owners’ income and their families' security. People were scared and not just of the virus - scared of losing everything they’d worked so hard to build.

It was heartbreaking to listen to owners, often in tears, trying to figure out how they were going to survive. We tried our best to give them ideas and help them see ways they could continue to trade but ultimately, many had to close.

Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and we couldn’t stand idly by and not do something - anything - to try and help keep them alive.

The good thing was, community spirit was in abundance with lots of people enjoying a new experience in shopping locally, in the businesses which were fortunate enough to be considered essential. We felt there must be a significant amount of people who would, if able, happily put their hand in their pocket to help their favourite local businesses survive. 

That’s where Support Southside came from.

We’d been banding about ideas about fundraising for local small businesses when out-of-the-blue, we were approached by Ilona McDowell, a local resident, who desperately wanted to find a way to raise money to help shops in Morningside, Bruntsfield and Marchmont. She already had some money she was willing to donate from her own funds!

Zoom meets were scheduled, plans were laid, Sharpies were deployed and soon our team were on the case, putting in late nights to create an engaging directory website where people could donate money and help local businesses and charities.

The result is

In the end, 58 generous souls, donated £2,512, which was distributed evenly amongst the local businesses. Some might say it wasn’t worth it, and from a purely financial standpoint, they’d be right. But, much like the lockdown itself, sometimes we just have to cast aside the bean counters and do something to help, even if we don’t know it will work. If it saves just one business…

While a few quid sadly isn’t enough to save every local business, the fact that people cared enough to give out their hard-earned money, and our team giving up time to help, meant a lot to local businesses. 

The government might not have deemed them essential but we did!



Ilona McDowell, resident

Julie Diver, MD of 39steps

Anne Ness, Director, Home Hardware


Photo: Niels Calvert, Director of Blue Sky Photography