Havens Hospices charity shops receive a warm welcome back into the community

A local hospice charity says it has been overwhelmed by the kindness of its supporters making donations following the reopening of its shops.

Opening the doors of its 23 shops across Essex on 15th June, Havens Hospices received an incredible 5,500 bags of clothes, toys and books within its first week of accepting donations – up by 89% compared to the week before it had to close on 23rd March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the first two weeks of reopening, sales across all its stores raised a collective £83,000 for the charity, an increase of 18% compared to sales during the two weeks before closure in March.

The charity – which provides palliative nursing and supportive care to children, adults and their families across Essex – was expecting an influx of donations from people’s ‘Covid Clear Outs’ after being closed for three months, and had put new processes in place at each shop to manage this.

Sue Pettafor, Manager of the Leigh shop located in Leigh Road said, “I have never known the shop so busy with donations and I have worked for Havens Hospices for 15 years. We are working incredibly hard to process and manage all the donations coming into the shops as well as make sure everything is clean and sanitised for our customers, staff and volunteers.

“Thank you so much to our volunteers who have been helping us run the shop and manage donations – we couldn’t do it without them – and also our fantastic customers who have been very understanding during these unprecedented times.”

With the charity’s major fundraising events for this year being cancelled and postponed, the shops are now providing a vital source of income.

Trevor Johnson, Director of Income Generation at Havens Hospices can’t thank its customers enough for sticking by the charity and continuing to visit their shops:

“We have had a very successful first couple of weeks of reopening and that is all down to our wonderful supporters from across the whole of Essex, and of course our staff and volunteers who have been working incredibly hard to adapt to the ‘new normal’, implementing the new safety and hygiene measures so everyone can shop safely.”

“Whether you have donated your preloved items to our shops or made a purchase

– you are helping us to continue ‘Making every day count’ for every adult, child and family we care for.

“On the first day of reopening our sales increased by 23% compared to what we normally take on an average day – that was even with the shorter opening hours – and customers queued outside patiently waiting to see what new items we had in store for them which was lovely to see.”

Trevor believes that post-lockdown is giving charity shops time to shine, offering affordable and unique items during these difficult economic times where people may have less disposable income:

“Like many charity retailers I come from a “normal” retail background and often charity retail has been looked at as the poor relation.

“How many of us have heard “not another charity shop” – only for us to become the busiest shop on the shopping parade once we’re reopen. We are highly responsive to customer need, enabling people to buy things that are not available elsewhere at an amazing price.

“Our charity shops also help make our planet a better place by recycling and selling preloved items for people to reuse. Through our 23 charity shops we save 1,000 tons a year from landfill by helping preloved items find a new home. Additionally, we enhance our communities through volunteering as well as build relationships with our regular customers.”

Havens Hospices’ shops are now open during the revised opening times of Monday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm and are accepting donations during these times. Anyone with a large amount of donations is advised to call their local shop in advanced letting the shop know so staff can advise on when to donate these. Please note the shops are currently only accepting contactless and card payments.

To find out where the charity’s shops are located  visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/charityshops and follow @havenshospices and @havensevents  on Facebook and @havenshopsicesshops on Instagram for the latest updates on the charity’s shops.

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Shoebury Shop Staff in PPE