Volunteers run Leeds pop-up shop in bid to rescue high street

Project coordinator Isla Brown (centre) with volunteers Josh Chandler, Hannah Smith, Ben Wayles, Sophie Smith, Bridget Jennerson and Rebecca Clark at the pop-up shop on Albion Street.
Project coordinator Isla Brown (centre) with volunteers Josh Chandler, Hannah Smith, Ben Wayles, Sophie Smith, Bridget Jennerson and Rebecca Clark at the pop-up shop on Albion Street.
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Volunteers from Leeds are on a mission to help rescue the high street by taking over a city centre shop.

Dozens of young volunteers hope to revive retail and learn valuable skills by revamping an empty shop on Albion Street.

Retail Ready People’s pop-up shop sells homeware products, prints and gifts from local artists and also has an in-shop living room and art space with live music.

According to charities vInspired and Retail Trust, one in six of the UK’s high street shops is empty, with 9,000 more expected by 2014.

But the charities hope to ease the problem by offering young people aged between 16 and 25 the opportunity to reinvent their towns and cities by volunteering as part of Retail Ready People (RRP).

Student Steph Hulbert-Thomas, an RRP volunteer, said: “Be prepared for a unique retail experience as we combine great products with a social space and some really creative events with local live musicians, artists and creative designers.” Janqui Mehta, of vInspired, said: “The young people on the programme get lots of training on various aspects of retail.

“The programme has two purposes – to create new interest in local high streets and to give young people a chance to do something positive for their communities, but also to equip them with skills for employment.

“Many of the young volunteers are unemployed and the project is a chance for them to get practical experience and build their confidence while doing something they can feel proud of.”

The store near the St John’s Centre is open until Tuesday, June 18.

For more information about the project, visit the website: www.vinspired.com/retailreadypeople

SUPPORTING RETAIL

The Retail Trust looks after the needs of all 3million people working in retail.

The charity provides grants and services of approximately £1.5million per year to people who are working in or have worked in the retail industry.

vInspired helps young people to discover the value of volunteering.

The charity offers opportunities and support for young people to get involved with good causes in their communities.

Since launching in 2006, it has helped create over 1 million youth volunteering opportunities.