A "secret supermarket" with half-price food and a community café saved a woman's life.

Mum-of four Adele Samson, 48, walked through the doors of Kirkdale Community Shop on the day it opened at 211 Walton Road in September 2020.

She comes to this branch of the UK's "first social supermarket chain" every day for its discounted shop and social spaces.

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It proved a life saver when Adele's mental health spiralled and she became suicidal after the death of her mum eight weeks ago.

The grandmother of two told the ECHO: "I didn't want to get out of the bed. I didn't want to open the blinds or the curtains because of my mum, just crying for my mum every day. Every day.

"Well this place gave me the initiative to get up out of bed and come out, because it's not just about shopping in here.

"It's about talking to people, and these people are like my counsellors.

"If it weren't for these people, I don't know where I'd be."

Adele hugged the chef and a regional manager in the first-floor café as she shared her thanks for the support Kirkdale Community Shop has given her.

Adele Samson finds community and support on her daily trips to the sanctuary that is Kirkdale Community Shop
Adele Samson finds community and support on her daily trips to the sanctuary that is Kirkdale Community Shop

The shop's shelves are stocked with yellow melons, fresh veg and branded jars found in any supermarket.

It's all sold with at least 50% off the price, reflecting their mission to provide people with low cost, high quality food.

Instead of going to landfill due to "incorrect" packaging, retailers donate food to the Community Shops, which sells it at discounted people in the local area who are in receipt of welfare payments.

Shoppers can buy discounted produce like fresh fruit and veg, pizza, soup and jars of sauce
Shoppers can buy discounted produce like fresh fruit and veg, pizza, soup and jars of sauce

Community Shop provides more than cheap food to help people in one of Liverpool's most deprived areas.

The social enterprise runs personal development courses in the upstairs hub rooms, helping people with budgeting and cooking.

Australian-born chef Leigh Menzie was filling the room with the scent of melted chocolate, and his swirls of icing on trays of cupcakes added a blast of colour to the white walls of the community kitchen.

Community kitchen chef Leigh Menzie keeps Kirkdale supplied with a steady stream of baked goods, from trays of brownies to icing-topped cupcakes
Community kitchen chef Leigh Menzie keeps Kirkdale supplied with a steady stream of baked goods, from trays of brownies to icing-topped cupcakes

He's been here since it opened in September last year, teaching skills to kids, many of whom have been excluded from school.

The 45-year-old told the ECHO: "There's one lad that I've mentored from over at Everton Free School, and he's been with us, on and off, for about eight months now.

"And watching his progression come through - you know, when he started here, he was a real wallflower.

"He'd step back from the group. He was very insular.

"We just gradually built him out. He's at the point now where he walks in here and it's his environment, it's his space, and he just, he belongs here.

"He volunteers. He comes in on his own time during school holidays and helps out with community stuff."

Leigh Menzie mentors teenagers in the community kitchen above Kirkdale Community Shop on Walton Road
Leigh Menzie mentors teenagers in the community kitchen above Kirkdale Community Shop on Walton Road

Leigh traded almost three decades of long hours in kitchens away from his family for a chance to mentor these kids, from early teens up to 16 years of age.

Now the dad of two loves getting out of bed in the morning for work, and he goes home feeling great.

Seeing the kids grow in the kitchen makes him proud.

Leigh told the ECHO: "It's nice just being able to guide someone, just a little bit, to show them that there's more to life than sitting inside playing video games or going out in the streets and getting in trouble.

"They can actually achieve things, and that's the thing for me, is showing them that anything they want to do is achievable.

"You just got to put that little bit of effort to it."

The Kirkdale Community Shop is one of three branches in the Liverpool City Region and one of eight in the UK
The Kirkdale Community Shop is one of three branches in the Liverpool City Region and one of eight in the UK

There are eight Community Shops in the UK, with three of them in the Liverpool City Region

Joanne Draper is the regional social impact manager for hub spaces in the Wirral and Halton branches, as well as the Kirkdale store, homed in former offices donated by affordable housing association Onward Homes

She loved the shop the moment she walked in, and she leaves feeling positive.

Regional social impact manager Joanne Draper outside Kirkdale Community Shop
Regional social impact manager Joanne Draper outside Kirkdale Community Shop

She told the ECHO: "I feel like I've made a difference in people's lives.

"I feel good, you know, I feel like I've actually achieved something and accomplished something and I've made a difference in the community."

It's the tangible difference to the daily lives of people in food poverty that leaves staff working here feeling like they do something that matters to the local community.

Shop Manager Kris Dunn, 26, at the Kirkdale Community Shop
Shop Manager Kris Dunn, 26, at the Kirkdale Community Shop

Store manager and former biomass engineer Kris Dunn, 26, told the ECHO: "I've never had a job really where you get a feel good factor.

"Like you do have a sense of accomplishments in any other job, but this is something else a bit extra.

"Especially when you're seeing a mum of six and they've got nothing on the table, and coming in here, you can spend the last fiver and get a couple of days worth of meals.

"You can see how much it means to them."

Bronwen Rapley, Chief Executive at Onward, which donated the building, said: "Community Shops give people on low incomes access to food that is truly affordable, with a dignified shopping experience.

"When we left our former offices on Walton Road, we saw an opportunity to work with Community Shop to bring its fantastic offer to the people of Kirkdale. We have done this before in Runcorn, so we know it works.

"When people, families and communities don't have to worry about getting enough good food, it means they can focus on getting on in life and fulfilling their aspirations."