The Herne Bay charity shop is back open and has been doing amazingly.
We re-opened our doors to our shop in Herne Bay on Monday 15 June, after four long months in lockdown. With a large part of our customer base still shielding and many people still anxious in general there was no way of knowing how the shop would do. Thankfully, we have been astounded by how supportive our community have been and continue to be. We began the shop on reduced hours and even with operating for half days instead of all day we are still managing to raise the same amount of profit.
There have been many hurdles to reopening our shop though. One of the major ones was our charity shop is completely run by volunteers, and many of our volunteers are shielding so haven’t felt safe enough to return. This meant finding a new team. We had a few of our regular volunteers at the driving force of it all and recruited some amazing new people that jumped in to help out in the short term and we hope that they will continue to get involved and stay with us beyond this pandemic.
Due to some emergency maintenance work and not enough volunteer staff ready to return yet, we have been unable to open up our shop in Tankerton until now. However, as of Monday 20th July, we are delighted to be opening our doors again and we hope it is a similar success to our Herne Bay store. We are looking for more volunteers to help us in our shops, if you are interested please visit www.strodepark.org.uk to find our more.
Getting used to working in lockdown has been a strange process. As I have already mentioned we had a lot of challenges to overcome. One of the biggest was how to keep everyone as safe as possible. We made posters to remind people to be considerate and keep their distance, we had a sanitation station ready and PPE available for our workers, but the biggest question was how to deal with our donations.
Our donations come in from multiple households and potentially pose a risk for our volunteers and customers. So we decided to change how we usually run things.
Instead of people donating their items direct to drop off point or to the shop we have asked them to book appointments to deliver to our donation store in Herne instead. This process avoids any cross-contamination between new donations and the shop stock, as well as allowing us to quarantine the items for 72 hours before they are processed to be sure they are safe. The items are then processed following quarantine, steamed and deployed to the shops.
This system was put in place to keep everyone protected and whilst it is less convenient for some, we are committed to ensuring the best care of our volunteers and customers, so this process will be how the system works for the foreseeable future. If you would like to book a slot to donate please call, 01227 373292, our appointments are currently for Thursdays only and can be booked between 9.45am 2.30pm.
So, the world isn’t back to normal, but we are back up and running. This pandemic and the shop closures have had a substantial effect on the money we have been able to raise. We hope it won’t be too long until we can go back to normal and extend the hours again, but our volunteers and customer’s safety is our priority so we will consider these as the risks lessen in the future.
We would like to say a huge thank you to our volunteer force, without them we would not have been able to re-open as quickly as we have. We would also like to express our gratitude you to the public and the local community, who have been so supportive at adapting and adhering to all the changes that we have had to put in place and for continuing to support Strode Park Foundation.