Celebrating innovation and dedication at inaugural Hospice Retail Awards

Categories: Community Engagement.

Earl Mountbatten Hospice Prison Products Project won the award for Most Inventive Hospice Retail Initiative and the Retail Staff Member of the Year award was presented to Phyllis Jones, retail manager of St Kentigern Hospice.

Earl Mountbatten Hospice Prison Products Project

Up until 2012 the interaction of Earl Mountbatten Hospice with HMP Isle of Wight was limited to the occasional referral of patients from the prison. However, an unusual joint enterprise was formed when staff from the local hospice store were invited on a tour of the prison. They ended up taking took a detour into a workshop where concrete garden ornaments were being made and proposed selling the goods through their network of nine shops.

Since the goods were first introduced last year in March, business has been booming. Sales to date from this joint effort have been exceptional, with a turnover of more than 1,000 items including garden ornaments, plants, metal plant stands, wooded planters and bespoke wooden garden benches. There have also been enormous benefits to the prison: as well as a new revenue stream, the inmates have been given the opportunity to learn new skills and feel that they have been able to put something back into the community. 

Kath Bright, retail team leader at Earl Mountbatten Hospice, said: “Collaboration and communication have been key to the success of this project with the hospice keeping the workshop managers up-to-date with positive feedback from our customers. Significantly, the hospice always advertises where the products come from which promotes a positive message of our work together and provides a vital link between the local community and prison inmates.”

Retail Staff Member of the Year

St Kentigern Hospice’s retail manager Phyllis Jones was shocked and delighted to receive the Retail Staff Member of the Year award.

Phyllis’ colleagues are full of praise for her dedicated efforts. 

“Phyllis is an inspiration to our volunteers and her co-workers; she keeps a tight ship but is fair to all, and doesn’t expect anyone to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. We feel she totally deserves this award,” Jackie Jeffery, fundraising manager at St Kentigern Hospice, said.

When the going gets tough in hospice retail, which it very often does, Phyllis, who lives in the coastal town of Abergele in North Wales, will meet whatever the challenge with gusto, a smile and a ‘let’s get on with it’ attitude. 

There are no managers in any of St Kentigern Hospice’s 11 shops so Phyllis has to manage and motivate an army of volunteers with very few members of staff to assist her. Managing the rotas as well as stocking the shops is more than multi-tasking, it is keeping several plates spinning on poles, but the shops manage to remain manned and well stocked at all times. 

Since Phyllis joined the team approximately eight years ago, the charity’s retail presence has gone from strength to strength. She has opened three more charity shops, refurbished another five and set up an eBay shop.

Help the Hospices Retail Conference

The Help the Hospices Retail Conference was set up to develop knowledge and best practice among hospice retailers and to provide an opportunity for attendees to network and learn from colleagues’ experiences.

This year’s conference – Securing the future: hospice retailers in the community – was the eighth annual one-day conference, focusing on helping hospice retailers plan for a sustainable future.

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