Hospice reopens shops in effort to plug £2m funding gap

A crucial community hospice has reopened its chain of charity shops to try and plug a £2million gap in its finances caused by lockdown.

The St Christopher’s Hospice stores in Downham, Lewisham and Crystal Palace reported promising sales, as the charity seeks to re-coup months of lost takings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But it is urgently pleading for new volunteers to help keep the shops well-stocked and the shelves pristine.

St Christopher’s shops have met all the government guidelines to create a safe shopping experience – but they currently need more volunteers.

So it is calling for local people to support the hospice by donating their time as many regular volunteers are from vulnerable groups and cannot currently support the shops.

The charity’s head of retail, David White, said: “If you’ve been furloughed, or you’re a student with some time to spare, or you just want to keep busy, volunteering in one of our shops gives you a great sense of community and is a very positive thing to do.

“There are lots of different roles even on a short-term basis, so whether you have a passion for fashion or you enjoy getting organised, please look on our website to find out more.

“After our first week of opening, income from our shops is looking very promising. At the moment we are receiving around four or five times our normal levels of donations, and our logistics team is moving up to three tonnes of donations to our shops each day.

“These donations are of higher quality than we might usually receive, so thank you, everyone, for giving away what you didn’t really need, but what someone else might love. There’s never been a better time to find a vintage gem or bag a bargain.”

Sara Broadhurst, who has managed the Lewisham store for nearly a year, said: “Bargains are especially important right now, as lots of us are feeling a bit less financially secure, and our shops offer good quality and accessibly priced clothes, furniture, games, toys and much more. It’s a very sustainable way of shopping, too.

“Over this last week it’s been wonderful to welcome familiar faces back into our shops, as well as new customers looking to find their own treasures among our pre-loved donations.”

St   Christopher’s Hospice gives palliative and end-of-life care for the boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.

Last year it provided care and support to more than 7,500 people in need, from gym sessions and art therapy to welfare support, end of life care and bereavement support

The site in Laurie Park Gardens, Sydenham has beds, a social space and café, gardens and an education centre, Its Orpington building has a social space for events, café and gardens. There are lots of community events open to everyone at each site

Most of its care is offered in the community rather than in the two buildings. Last year, its 300 staff made almost 12,000 visits to people’s homes and care homes. The charity also offers courses internationally to promote hospice care.

The hospice was founded in Sydenham in 1967 by Dame Cicely Saunders, which started the global hospice movement.

Less than a third of St Christopher’s funding is from the NHS. The remaining £15 million is generated by fundraisers, high street shops and 1,350 volunteers – see www.stchristophers.org.uk

Pictured top: St Christopher’s Hospice (Picture: Stephen Craven)

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