Comment: A helping hand for children’s hospices

Ours is the only charity in the country providing hospice care to babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. Picture: TSPL
Ours is the only charity in the country providing hospice care to babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. Picture: TSPL
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ENTER any charity shop run by the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (Chas), and you are sure to be met with a vibrant and dynamic environment selling an eclectic mix of vintage, contemporary and affordable treasures.

Ours is the only charity in the country providing hospice care to babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. From the beginning, our charity shops have been crucial to the work of our organisation and in 2014 our loyal band of staff and volunteers helped us generate over £500,000 in sales. This is a significant contribution to the charity and these funds are put towards ensuring that we are able to continue providing specialised care to those that need it most.

We run six charity shops, each one operates to a high standard and all rely on donations of goods to sell. Each shop has its own quirky personality and gives our charity a presence in its local community, building up a strong support base from local shoppers.

At the moment, we have around 250 retail volunteers, each bringing a wealth of skills and experience, and helping us transform our shops into hubs of knowledge and information. Supporters are invited to shop the latest bargains, drop off donations, learn more about
the charity’s work, volunteer and explore fundraising ideas.

Replenished with new gems daily, our shops – located in Glasgow, Dunfermline, Stirling and Kinross – are frequented by bargain hunters, collectors and spendthrifts alike, all on the lookout for that special something. From jeans to jewellery, bric-a-brac to books, household goods to hand knits, our staff specialise in selling all kinds of donated items. We cater for all tastes and have something to suit all pockets.

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Sorting through up to 30 tonnes of donated stock some months, our teams do their best to ensure that every item donated is sold for maximum profit. The generosity of supporters is overwhelming; items donated recently include a handmade doll’s house selling for £600, a painting which went for £500, a patchwork quilt for £100 and many items of bric-a-brac and clothing regularly fetching around £50.

We take further pride in the fact that we’re keeping donations out of landfill, and supporting the environment with our policy of reducing, reusing and recycling, giving merchandise another chance to be discovered and enjoyed.

The greatest reward for everyone involved in this busy retail environment is knowing that every penny of profit will make a difference to the families using our charity’s services. Just one donated item worth £10 could pay for a day’s supply of oxygen for a sick child in our care.

Over the past few months we’ve put plans in place to upgrade our Kinross shop fronts to bring them in line with the our shops in Dunfermline, Glasgow and Stirling. We’re also exploring the possibility of expanding into other areas in Scotland which is something that will be researched in more depth this year; it’s an exciting time for us!

We provide care through our two wonderful hospices – Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch – and also through CHAS at Home, which has teams working from both hospices as well as dedicated teams in Aberdeen and Inverness, caring for families in their own homes when they need it most.

CHAS celebrated its 21st birthday last year and we’re now supporting more families and children than ever before. That, in turn, also means that we 
have to raise more funds than ever before and our retail shops play a huge part in helping us reach a wider audience. We’re funded mainly through the kindness of our many supporters who help us to raise over £9 million needed each year to provide these specialised care services.

We want to help families make every moment count and create lasting memories with their children in a loving, caring environment. That’s why we’re working hard to raise our profile in the community and appreciate any support that we receive. It’s so important we continue to increase awareness of our work and let people know about the services we offer.

Our wish for the future is that more people will discover the delights of our stores – each one unique, each one part of its community, all more than just shops.

• Pauline Tanbini is retail manager at CHAS (Children’s Hospice Association Scotland) www.chas.org.uk