Charity shops are good for high streets

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New research has found that charity shops contribute positively to society in a range of ways

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11th September 2017 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Charity shops save their local councils £27 million and make £270m a year for their parent charities.

New research finds that the charity retail sector also plays a major role in improving employment prospects for volunteers.

An impressive 73% of volunteers say working in a charity shop has improved their self esteem and 75% says they have gained new skills.

The research was carried out by Demos on behalf of the Charity Retail Association through 2016 and 2017.

It found that although half of the public association charity shops with high-street decline, they are actually a lifeline for struggling town centres.

Two-thirds of charity shop managers said their shop fills premises that would otherwise be left vacant.

The negative perception of charity shops, however, could also be fading as the research found a generational divide on public perceptions of their value. Older people are more likely to see them as a sign of an unhealthy high street while young people see shopping in charity shops as cost effective, environmentally friendly and trendy.

The research found that the sector saves councils money by diverting goods from landfill. In 2015/16 the sector reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 6.9 million tonnes.

Chief executive at Charity Retail Association, Robin Osterley, said: “This latest report from Demos once again demonstrates how much social value the charity retail sector generates across the UK. From environmental benefit and getting people back into work to improving the confidence and well-being of the more vulnerable members of our society, charity shops continue to give far reaching benefits to their local communities.

“In addition, this report makes it clear that a volunteering revolution would not only benefit the sector but communities all over the country. We are taking up the report’s recommendation to launch a sector-wide campaign to broaden engagement in volunteering at charity shops.”

The research found two-thirds of volunteers say that volunteering has improved their employment prospects and 90% recommend their organisation as a great place to work.

Shop managers agree, with one in four saying that all or most of their job-seeking volunteers had moved into paid employment after volunteering.

One volunteer said: “One of the main things they do is give you some confidence back, you get such a hard knock all the time looking [for work], it’s nice to go to somewhere like that, you get recognised for the fact that you are a good worker.”

Volunteers are motivated by being able to contribute to their specific charity (96%), to charity in general (96%) and to their communities (90%).

The survey also found that shop managers enjoy good levels of job satisfaction, with three-quarters of managers feeling satisfied with their role, and of these one in five say they are completely satisfied.

However, a third of managers described their role as stressful, and a further 20% said that it is very stressful. The findings on stress are linked to increased professionalism in the management of charity shops over recent years, leading to more a business and target-oriented approach.

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