CHARITY shop supporters in Bognor Regis have strongly backed their contribution to the town.
Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester supports voluntary and community organisations in the Arun and Chichester Districts from its base in the town centre, and says there is far more to charity shops than just a place to re-use and recycle items as reported in the Bognor Regis Post earlier this month.
This is shown by the amount of support they receive from local people. Kate Scales, the development manager at Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester, said: “The positive contribution of charity shops in Bognor includes: awareness raising for the services and support available from our local charities; funds that the charity shops are able to raise to support vital local services at a time when grants are scarcer than ever; the use of volunteers in charity shops roles that often are a stepping stone for people into work; employment pathways for young people doing apprenticeships, and saying they smell is a bit of a cheap shot!”
Nik Demetriades, the chief executive of Bognor Regis-based charity 4SIGHT, on York Road, said: “Our 4SIGHT charity shop is an important link between us and the town, helping us to build awareness of the services we provide to support visually impaired people in Bognor and Arun, and, also, because it provides volunteering and employment opportunities for local people.
“We have a fantastic, hard-working and very loyal team of over 20 volunteers at our shop and they are an absolute credit both to themselves and to Bognor.
“In recognition of that contribution, what would be really nice for them would be to hear some words of encouragement and support from our town leaders and representatives for a change, not just a constant stream of criticism! ”
He added that, far from being smelly, the shop’s manager receives constant compliements about its nice atmosphere. Charity outlets also house innovative social businesses worth celebrating. Bognor Vineyard Church runs the wonderful Fairtrade shop and café on the High Street.
Julie Budge, the chief executive of My Sisters’ House, a Community Interest Company which runs a local women’s centre, said: “We have our little Makers Boutique in London Road, that takes alterations, commissions and sells upcycled clothing and we make every effort to ensure it looks appealing. All products were clean and fresh because they had been transformed into new clothing”, she said.
“If anything, we are the lifeblood in the town centre with many community champions actively working for the community and that should be acknowledged.”
The Charity Finance Group produced a report, Are Charity Shops Harming the High Street?, in 2009. It concluded: “The presence of charity shops is not the cause of the decline of the independent retailer, rather an effect. Charity shops either pay full market rents to occupy the better locations, or they prevent certain high streets from looking even worse.”