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Charity Month: Gimme Shelter

I met with Shelter shop manager, Gary Palmer, at the Talbot Road branch of Shelter. Recently opened after new refit, the shop was bustling with customers over a rainy lunchtime. Gary kindly took some time to talk to me about Shelter and the shop:

CM: Please tell us a little bit about Shelter?
GP: Shelter is a charity that works to alleviate the distress caused by homelessness and bad housing by giving advice, information and advocacy to people with housing issues. Shelter provides advice and support to people going through all sorts of housing problems.

CM: How does Shelter help locally?
GP: Shelter offers free housing advice via its helpline 0808 800 4444 (calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks). There are drop in centres nationwide, the closest one to Blackpool is Blackburn at Nelson Citizens Advice Bureau. More drop in centres are set to open in the future.

CM: Have you noticed any trends in light of the current economic downturn?
GP: Yes, we’ve definitely noticed a shortage of donations. Our branch is in need of donation, in particular clothing. Shop takings are down this year, but this seems to be a nationwide trend, not something specific to Blackpool.

CM: What makes Shelter different from other High Street charity shops?  

GP: Recently we have undergone a refit of the shop.  We are following the ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ model where we believe that people can pay more for quality items presented in an attractive way. We have more designer and high street labels on display and increasingly less bric-a-brac. We also have a great range of vintage clothing and fashion accessories.

CM:Does Shelter have any plans to get involves in the local community leading up to Christmas?
GP: Yes, we have several things approaching, including a project with Helping Hand which is still under development. The Galleon Bar on Abingdon Street is hosting a charity fundraiser night for charities involved in housing and homelessness issues on Wednesday 5th December. They are having a buffet, a collection on the night and local businesses are donating prizes for a raffle. There is a carol concert at Cyprus Point, Lytham, which is also raising money for Shelter.

CM: How can people donate to Shelter?
GP: There are many ways. We take pretty much any item apart from large furniture, which we could suggest you donate to Helping Hand on Cookson Street. We are always asking people to drop off donations at the shop, but we know it can be difficult with the lack of parking access, but we do offer a collection service from your home. Please get in touch with the shop to arrange this. Any donated items that we are unable to sell in the shop, we can recycle, particularly items such as bed linens and curtains.

If you are UK resident then please take the time to Gift Aid, this means that we can claim 30% back from the government in taxes. More information is available in store.

We also take direct donations via the website and cash donations in our shop. We are always looking for individuals, organisations and business to run fundraising events for us, please get in touch if you are interested, we have lots of ways in which we can support you in doing this.

CM: What are the more unusual items that get donated?
GP: It can be quite random, we get a surprising amount of underwear, which is still welcome as we can recycle it! We also get things such as reading glasses.

CM: Have you found any unexpected treasure in your donated bags?
GP: Recently someone donated beautiful turn-of-the-century tea-set, which after some research online, we managed to sell £250 for. In the shop at the moment, we have a wonderful solid silver 1930’s hand held dressing table mirror which we have valued at £250. Hopefully that will sell soon.
Some of the more interesting items I photograph and put up on our Shelter Facebook page. It would be great if people could like that for us.

To get in touch with Gary and the team, and find out the many ways to get involved with Shelter, or to donate, you can talk to Gary –

In store:
31 Talbot Road
Blackpool
Lancs FY1 1LL
By Phone: 01253 749962
Facebook: www.facebook.com/shelterblackpool

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