First council scheme to commence
Warrington Borough Council will be the first local authority to start using the charity gift card as part of its local welfare assistance. The council receives around 200 applications a month of claims for essentials such as white goods, beds, mattresses and sofas. In some instances there will be additional claims for help with clothing and other items.
St Rocco’s Hospice have 10 charity shops in Warrington that will be able to accept the card and benefit from this partnership.
Our discussions with councils and charity shops have raised some interesting questions about meeting demand and the replenishment of stock. This could give other charity retailers interested in joining the scheme food for thought the goods and services they offer that could make The Charity Shop Gift Card attractive to their local council.
White goods. One of the main essentials that councils supply to applicants is white goods but of course these take up a lot of retail space so not all shops will just have them in stock. After speaking to various charity shops we found that it is possible to buy in additional reconditioned goods to meet demand which could be useful as the scheme grows.
Mattresses. Mattresses in excellent condition can be hard to come by but we are aware of the Ultraclean Mattress Machine used by Reuse Network members and other organisations to restore mattresses to good, useable condition. We already know of one charity retailer who are considering investing in the equipment to meet demand from councils and other support agencies. There are an estimated 400,000 children in the UK without their own bed to sleep in, highlighted in the news recently by the work of Zarach. Being able to offer reused mattresses could make a huge difference to this both in terms of poverty alleviation but also benefits to the environment.
Delivery. One of the main benefits of ordering from a retailer like Argos is that they can deliver white goods and furniture straight to the door so councils are keen to know whether participating charity shops can deliver items to their customers too. We’ve also been asked whether deliveries will be dropped off at the door or actually taken to the room where they need to be situated – for example a sofa taken up to a flat or a bed up a flight of stairs. When grants are being made to vulnerable members of society, it is important to remember that they many not have access to transport, be physically able to move furniture themselves. And of course local deliveries with less miles from shops to customer are far better for the environment and help create jobs in the region.
Installation. Whilst it may be unusual for charity shops to offer installation of their appliances it isn’t unheard of and we were impressed recently to hear of a retailer who has an installer that follows their delivery van to get things fitted for the customers.
It’s important to remember that not having any or all of these offering doesn’t rule out participation from the scheme – it is just useful for us to know the kind of services that are on offer and possible ways round it. The Charity Shop Gift Card as a sustainable alternative to current welfare assistance has so many benefits so we are keen to work with councils and retailers to find solutions where they are needed.
Councils are keen to build on partnerships though The Charity Shop Gift Card initiative so there will be the opportunity to make arrangements direct for invoicing for deliveries and installations or making shops aware of vulnerable customers or particular types of claims coming up.
One of the key benefits coming through from councils is just how accessible charity shops are to members of the community. Where many high streets or villages may not have a superstore or furniture retailers, most do have charity shops and this redemption network is what will really help make this scheme work to its full potential.
If you would like to know more about joining the initiatives or would like to share any great ‘added extras’ that you offer as a charity retailer, we would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org