Arthur Rank Hospice is excited to be opening their biggest boutique charity shop yet in the bustling heart of independent Cambridge at 55 Burleigh Street, in February. The high street store – which is three times the size of what is currently the Charity’s largest shop in Cottenham – will become the Charity’s flagship high street shop, featuring a vintage clothing section and functioning as a local community hub.
The Burleigh Street branch will be the Hospice’s fifth high street store, with others already well loved and supported in Cambridge on Mill Road and on Regent Street, in Great Shelford on Woollards Lane and in Cottenham on the High Street.
Between January and December 2017, Arthur Rank Hospice’s four shops processed 66,000 transactions (over 1000 per week) and whilst the income they generate is invaluable, the purpose and ethos behind the Hospice’s shops extends much further, as Retail Manager Eileen Hughes explains: “We have been thrilled with the success of our shops, having opened two new branches in as many years, but we’re passionate that the value they generate is far more than financial.
“What we have found as we have opened up stores in new areas is that they have become a real focus for the local community. They have reunited and created friendships as people have come forward to volunteer, provided a friendly and accessible way for customers to support and find out more about the Hospice itself and provided wonderful opportunities to people of all ages to gain skills or give back in some way to their local community. Customer service will always be the most important part of retail and making sure we have an excellent volunteer team on board to help us deliver this is absolutely critical.”
Each shop has a staff manager but the Hospice retail team require five other people to be on the Shop floor at any one time, all day every day with one manning the till, two looking after customers and stock on the shop floor and two sorting and pricing stock behind the scenes. In order for the charity to keep generating a healthy profit from its retail outlets, the Hospice’s Volunteer Services are being challenged to increasing their total headcount by 10% or 60 people (487 people volunteer across the Hospice’s services as a whole).
Jake Crane is 14 years old and will be helping at the new Burleigh Street shop when it opens, having been a volunteer at the Cottenham shop since May 2017. He talks about what it has been like for him in a video which can be viewed on Arthur Rank Hospice’s YouTube channel, saying: “It’s been the best experience I’ve ever chosen. The reason why I wanted to volunteer was to gain my experience and skills for what I wanted to be when I’m older. My role involves pricing clothing, sorting donations, serving and helping customers. If you want to be a volunteer, the process is quick and easy, so get your application in and we can’t wait to see you there!”
Those helping in the Charity’s shops normally volunteer half a day per week, but anything upwards of 2 hours per fortnight will make a real difference. Anyone upwards of 14 years old (parental consent required for anyone under 18) is welcome to apply: full training will be given and roles are flexible, allowing them to be shaped around each individual’s background, experience, skills and needs. Interviews will begin from 29 January. In addition to the many roles available at the Burleigh Street store, local volunteers are always needed for the charity’s shops in Regent Street, Mill Road and Cottenham, as well as further applicants needed to support the Hospice’s clinical services in Shelford Bottom.
To find out more, please visit arhc.org.uk/volunteeringintheshop.asp or contact Hannah Touhey from the Hospice’s Volunteer Services team on 01223 675872 or [email protected] who will tell you more about what would be involved.
As well as being on the search for special people to volunteer, the Charity continues to seek donations of vintage items and good quality men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, bric-a-brac and toys. Thanks are extended to Big Yellow Self Storage on Coral Park, Henley Road (Cambridge), who have loaned the charity some extra storage space for the purpose of storing stock, ahead of the opening.
If you would like to donate, please note that the Charity is unable to accept items at Burleigh Street until the shop opens. Please drop your donations off instead only at the Hospice’s current shops (see ‘Our Shops’ under ‘Support Us’ at arhc.org.uk) or the Hospice’s Reception area at Shelford Bottom between the hours of 10am and 4pm, Monday-Saturday.