The UK’s first ever manifesto for charity shops

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Shona Ferrier says is time politicians took note of the vital contribution charity retail makes to local communities

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30th May 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

At the Charity Retail Association (CRA) we have just produced our first ever manifesto for charity shops. We want to ensure that all political parties recognise the huge contribution that charity shops make to the economy, society and environment.

There are over 900 charity shops in Scotland that provide vital resources for their local communities. Not only providing reasonably priced clothes, goods and furniture but also as the face of their charities in the community, providing spaces where the public can access vital services.

Volunteering opportunities in charity shops create inclusive growth in our local communities. Charity retail is the biggest source of volunteer opportunities in the UK, with 220,000 people currently volunteering in the sector

Through donations charity shops provide opportunities for reuse and recycle which help local authorities to reach their carbon targets. As a result of charity retail, 330,000 tonnes of textiles were kept out of landfill, reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by nearly 7 million tonnes.

Charity shops provide a vital contribution to charities fundraising, this money is used to fund vital charity work, such as health screening and social and nursing care and poverty prevention are amongst numerous examples of the services our charities provide. These services save the Scottish Government and local authorities money in the long run.

The Charity Retail Association (CRA) has nearly 400 members representing around 80% of all charity stores in the UK. Our members range from national chains to individual hospice shops and everything in between.

The ten key policy asks in the manifesto are that the next government should:

  • Clearly recognise the vital social value that the charity retail sector generates for communities, economies and the environment across the UK
  • Ensure that charity shops continue to benefit from mandatory and discretionary business rates relief, given how vital this relief is to the future viability of many charity shops.
  • Ensure that all charity shops are eligible for both rate relief and all support schemes in place to assist small shops with business rate support
  • Dedicate itself to creating a volunteering revolution with every public sector employer giving its employees time off to volunteer
  • Give official recognition to The Charity Retail Association’s volunteering campaign and offer non-financial support by encouraging public sector employees to participate
  • Promote the benefits of volunteering in charity shops to young people and the unemployed, particularly through Job Centre Plus
  • Assist charity shops in generating stock by allowing them to collect house-to-house at short notice
  • Legislate for much greater transparency in the clothing collections market, allowing people to make informed choices about the destination of their donations
  • Emphasise to all councils that waste from unsaleable donations is household waste and should be accepted at refuse sites free of charge
  • Incentivise partnerships between charities and local authorities to enable collection from household recycling centres

Shona Ferrier is public affairs and membership officer (Scotland) at the Charity Retail Association

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