Charity shops a vital way of fundraising for good causes

Oxfam opened its first shop in Scotland in 1972. Its branches north of the border now raise five million pounds for the charity annually. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Oxfam opened its first shop in Scotland in 1972. Its branches north of the border now raise five million pounds for the charity annually. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE humble charity shop is a familiar sight on High Streets across Scotland but remains a vital source of fundraising for many third sector organisations.

There are an estimated 900 such outlets north of the border, according to trade body the Charity Retail Association (CRA), which represents 80 per cent of store operators across the UK.

With traditional retailers struggling in an age of online shopping, 55 per cent of Scottish towns have seen an increase in charity shop openings since 2012.

These stores raise around £300m for good causes every year including; tackling poverty; funding world leading medical research; and running local hospices.

A new poll by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations found that 89 per cent of Scots have personally supported a charity in some way in the last year, donating money or goods, or giving their time as volunteers and supporters.

In 2015, the charity retail sector were able to sell or recycle over 90 per cent of donated clothing, over 90 per cent of donated books and 85 per cent of donated electrical goods.

Shop operators point out this diverts waste away from landfill, improves recycling rates and saves the public purse significant disposal costs.

Oxfam has 48 charity shops in Scotland, staffed by around 1000 volunteers, which raise a total of £5m for the international famine relief organisation annually. Its oldest branch opened in Church Street, Troon, in 1972.

“Oxfam shops rely on our dedicated and talented volunteers, and we would encourage people to consider giving a small amount of time to help us by volunteering in their local shop,” a spokeswoman said.

“45 per cent of Oxfam volunteers give between two and five hours a week, and a further 45 per cent give between six and 15 hours a week. Shifts can be flexible, and all our volunteers are given on-the-job training and the chance to learn new skills.

“We also rely on the huge number of people who donate goods to our shops. From disease, to conflict, to weather related crises – it is essential we have the ability to keep responding, and that depends on the huge generosity of the people of Scotland.”

Robin Osterley, CRA chief executive, said: “Each outlet run by our members is far more than just a shop.

“The charity retail sector raises significant amounts for local charitable causes; provides hundreds of jobs and thousands of volunteering opportunities, and; boosts recycling and re-use rates.

“This is why charity shops are a vital partners to commercial retailers, bringing footfall and diversity to the high street.”

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