Hospice charity shops reopen with new safety measures

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Featured, and Policy.
St Teresa’s Hospice Superstore in Darlington

Hospice charity shops begun to reopen today, after being closed for almost three months while the country has been in lockdown. In line with Government guidance the shops have put new safety measures in place to protect staff, volunteers and customers from the possibility of contracting Covid-19; we take a look at some of these new procedures.

Havens Hospices in Essex reopened all 23 of its shops today, but is not accepting donations for the first week while they get used to the new way of working.

The shops have reduced opening times to allow staff to clean thoroughly. Staff are also cleaning throughout the day, which includes regularly disinfecting high touch points such as door handles and handrails.

All employees have been trained appropriately and the shops are asking customers to follow the two-metre apart social distancing guidelines – floor markers have been put in place to assist with this. Hand sanitiser stations are provided in each shop for customers to use.

A reduced number of customers are allowed in the stores at any one time so they may be asked to queue outside. The shops have temporarily closed fitting rooms and are only accepting contactless and card payments.

For customers’ peace of mind, all items donated are ‘quarantined’ for the suggested 72 hours and cleaned before being made available for purchase in the shops.

Trevor Johnson, Director of Income Generation said: “We are thrilled that we can finally open our shops to our customers so we can continue raising money for our hospice care.

“We ask the public to please follow the new guidelines in our shops for their own safety and for the safety of our staff and volunteers.

“With lots of people having clear-outs during lockdown we are expecting a huge influx of donations after 22nd June, so we ask our customers to kindly bear in mind that on some occasions, due to the limited storage space in our shops, we may not be able to accept some donations on the day.

Norwich City footballer Tom Trybull and his wife Anna donated £5,000 to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), plus a bag of clothes ahead of the charity reopening five of its shops.

The money comes from sales of children’s book The Story of Tommy T, a pigeon trying to make his name in football. The story is written by Anna, based on the exploits of her husband and encourages young people to follow their dreams.

Tom, a defensive midfielder from Germany who joined the Canaries in 2017, said: “The morale of the book Anna wrote is for young people to believe in their dreams and EACH helps to support children and their families living with life-threatening conditions to reach milestones, and improve their quality of life. As a person in the public eye, I hope to have a positive impact on others in the community and we’re both delighted to donate money and clothes to help make a difference to children and EACH’s fundraising appeal.”

EACH has opened five of its 43 outlets in Norfolk in a phased reopening plan. Before the pandemic, the shops would normally bring in £100,000 a week in income. Stacey Addison, EACH Major Supporter Fundraiser, said: “We can’t thank Tom and Anna enough for choosing us to benefit from sales of their fantastic book, and we’re delighted to receive a clothing donation on top of that! The money will help us continue providing vital care for children and young people with life-threatening conditions, and support for their families, and the awareness this will raise is hugely helpful at such a challenging and uncertain time.”

St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington is also planning a phased reopening throughout June and July, with the charity’s superstore in Darlington opening first.

Donations are accepted but are initially confined to objects that can be contained in a box or a bag, which rules out furniture until the current stock has been cleared and there is space to store it safely.

Following a week-long deep clean and stock reorganisation, the superstore has reopened with a clearly marked one-way system, while staff are equipped with screens at the till and PPE. Only five customers are admitted at a time and hand sanitisation is available.

Customers wanting to measure furniture are asked to bring their own tape-measures, and people wanting to drop off donations must ring a bell and leave items on designated shelving, where they are quarantined till the following day before being moved by staff to free-up space.

Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury opened several shops for donations last week, and received so many items they’ve introduced an appointments system to be able to process them.

“We have been swamped by kindness, our supporters have been absolutely amazing,” said Head of Retail Ross Henderson. “We don’t want people to stop donating, we’re just asking that they ring us first so we can manage the rate at which they’re coming to our door”.

“Even with extra volunteers drafted in we’ve struggled to process everything because of the new way we have to do things. This is a fantastic problem to have and we are so grateful to everyone who’s responded so positively to our appeal for stock.”

All donations are quarantined before they can be sorted, steam-cleaned and prepared for sale. The hospice reopened its first shop to customers today.

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