Giving Something Back: the social value of charity shops
The Charity Retail Association has commissioned the leading think tank, Demos, to evidence the social and economic value of charity shops. This week, Demos published a new report, Giving Something Back, which found that charity shops act as a life support on British high streets, providing a number of benefits for local businesses, residents and communities. An in-depth study into the value of charity shops found they keep people shopping on their high street and reduce the number of empty shops, challenging the perception that they fuel high street decline.
Business benefits include keeping high streets buzzing and providing opportunities for unemployed people to gain experience and skills. There are wider social benefits for older volunteers and customers who rely on shops to interact with local community and ward off loneliness and isolation. The report also highlights several examples of charities using their shops to deliver advice and services to the public.
In addition, charity shops are on the frontline of the fight against unemployment. Over 80% of volunteers stated that they were using their shifts as an opportunity to ‘skill up’, gaining retail experience as a path to paid employment.
As part of its report, Demos recommends that charity shops explore how to measure and communicate their social value and this is something that at the CRA we shall be working on with our members over the coming months.
Warren Alexander, of the Charity Retail Association, said: "Charity shops not only raise vital money for their parent charities but they bring huge value to their local communities and this report gives some clear insight into those benefits. Charity shops offer a space for individuals to learn new skills and experience through volunteering and work.
"It is great to see charities using their space in imaginative and resourceful ways to not only be retail operations but act as community centres, bases for service delivery and hubs for vulnerable people."
The report was sponsored by the Charity Retail Association. You can read the full report here.
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CRA Annual General Meeting held 6 November 2013
An outstanding success
The morning session focused on the CRA and offered updates on policy and our plans for the next 12 months. Warren Alexander spoke to members about the many achievements over the past year but also took this chance to remind members that they must demonstrate they are making an 'invaluable contribution' to their communities as well as raising funds for good causes.
The afternoon session was a panel debate on the value of charity shops on the high street; the speakers included Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, Darryl Nicholas, Communications and PR Manager, ATCM and Jonathan Birdwell, Head of Citizens Programme, Demos.