Appealing for Christmas.
Lots of discussion last week about the death of the High St., and lots of patronising comments about charity shops (if they even got mentioned!). A report from the distressed town centre property task force (elegantly named eh? ) also got lots of debate.
But all of this seemed to miss the point that charity shops help keep our High Streets alive. Indeed they enliven them. Some commentators even had the cheek to describe loan shops in the same breath as charity shops. What underlies this arrogance? Do they think charity shops aren't proper shops at all, because they run for charity not profit and they use volunteers?
As a habitual user of these wonderful institutions I know how this world has changed over the years. They are highly professionally run, with ranges of own-produced goods like the great Oxfam food ranges, as well as good quality and bargain clothes.
I was in one of my favourites at the weekend. The Helen and Douglas House Hospice shop in Chipping Norton is one of the best shops in that gorgeous Cotswolds town. They know me well and had saved me a splendid door curtain - I've been on the hunt for one to keep the draught out!
And I got a rather magnificent hat in Scope; makes me look like my Great Uncle, the Rev Wilfred. A sort of tyrolean affair with feather. Perhaps not quite right for ministerial meetings but will do for walking the hound over the fields to the Pub.
So three cheers for the charity shop. All those local Councillors and Mary Portas types; stop whinging about charity. The alternative is often not some artisan bread makers or bead emporium but a boarded up space. Charity shops keep our High Streets alive!
Advent Sunday yesterday. A great advent Carol service from St John’s Cambridge, and a reminder of all the charity appeals that grace our newspapers. One of my favourites is the appeal in the FT for World Child Cancer, just taken over by old friend Allison Ogden-Newton. Wish her well. And indeed all my ACEVO members.
Have a good Advent.