Charities boosted by Leeds high street visibility

Greg Mulholland MP and shop manager Jen Hayward enjoy tea and cake at the opening of the Sue Ryder vintage and retro shop.
Greg Mulholland MP and shop manager Jen Hayward enjoy tea and cake at the opening of the Sue Ryder vintage and retro shop.
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The presence of charity shops on Leeds high streets is seeing a boost in support beyond just selling items, a report has revealed.

Research by think-tank Demos has shown that almost two thirds of people believed the shops on Britain’s high streets made them more likely to give money to charity.

Leeds’s charity sector is among those to benefit by using shopping units to increase visibility to shoppers.

The Sue Ryder charity, which provides care to people with conditions such as cancer, stroke and multiple sclerosis, at centres including Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley, has opened six new charity shops in Leeds in the last two years alone.

Glynn Taylor, retail area manager at Sue Ryder, said: “We do find that when we have got a shop such as in Hunslet, where we have got a hospice close by in Wheatfields, you definitely get more support.

“You get more donations and more people coming in looking to volunteer because the hospice touches people’s lives in that area – our shops are the face of the charity.”

He said the role of the charity shop is changing, with increasingly modern outlets losing the second-hand shop stigma, while all volunteers at Sue Ryder are briefed on how to explain to customers what the charity does.

Despite this, Demos said figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest the total amount given by members of the public to charity fell by £1.7bn in 2011/12 – a drop of 20 per cent.

But a fifth of the 2,000 adults questioned by Demos said that going to a charity shop led them to support the organisation in further ways such as donating money, finding out more about the charity’s work, or signing petitions.

Ally Paget, a researcher at Demos working on the project, said: “This polling shows that charity shops bring benefits to our communities beyond affordable shopping.

“Many charities are struggling since the recession as people are feeling a squeeze on their disposable income. Anything that can encourage people to donate more money is incredibly important.”

Demos investigated the role of charity shops and their social value within communities.

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