Southend in Sight’s charity shop celebrates 10 years of business
Southend in Sight, Southend’s local independent sight loss charity, celebrates a decade of fundraising through its charity shop on Hamlet Court Road on Friday 24th April.
In 2010, the staff, volunteers and trustees of the charity, then known as Southend Blind Welfare Organisation, could not have expected the shop to be the phenomenal success it is today. Over the last 10 years, sales from the shop have raised more than £567,000 for Southend in Sight. These funds have allowed the charity to support thousands of local visually impaired people over the years, and all thanks to the generous donation of items from the general public.
The charity’s fundraiser Catherine Hodgson said ‘There is a lovely atmosphere in the shop. There’s always laughter, a great pride in displaying items to their best advantage and a general camaraderie to raise as much money as possible for the charity. The shop is manned by volunteers in morning and afternoon shifts who often compete with each other to see who can sell the most!’
The shop team is led by Lois Maulkin, the Charity Shop Manager. She joined Southend in Sight two years ago and, Catherine says, ‘changed us for the better. Her wonderful window displays are now legendary in Hamlet Court Road and she has brought a whole new meaning to the word “vintage”!’
Lois says, “I love receiving donations as you never know what gems you might find inside. You would not believe what people give to us to sell. I have seen the usual items such as old tea sets and designer clothes but it’s the ones with a bit of history that stick in your mind – the ball gowns from Paris and the family rocking horse made from a beer barrel!”
Although the shop is closed for the time being in line with government guidelines, Lois said ‘We will be celebrating and thanking all our volunteers, some of whom have been with us from the opening of the shop, when it is safe to do so.’
‘We are confident of bouncing back when we are able to open our doors again, raising more funds for the charity and enabling more people to benefit from the charity’s advice and support. We know that we have the support of our regular customers and the local community.’
Catherine Hodgson added ‘We would like to thank all our supporters who donate so generously to us. These donations are what help us achieve such good sales and in turn help us support the local visually impaired community.’
Please note: Southend in Sight offices are currently shut but staff are working off site. They are offering support and advice over the phone. Please call: 07512 33 55 74 to speak to a member of staff if you or someone you know needs advice or support for sight loss or visual impairment at this time.
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity is looking to reopen their established Witham Charity Shop on Newland Street in Witham after closing in line with Government guidelines on the 23rd March.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic a number of their regular volunteers have been forced to retire, leaving the charity with a shortfall of help. Now the charity is appealing for people to give up their time and volunteer at the shop otherwise it will be unable to reopen as planned.
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity CEO Kate Alden said; “We are looking forward to being able to reopen our Witham Charity Shop as our shops are the absolute lifeblood of the charity. However we have sadly said goodbye to some of our regular volunteers and are therefore calling on the local community to help us.
If you can spare a few hours, have a good sense of humour and enjoy meeting new people, we would love to have your help with volunteering in our Witham charity shop. Our shops are a hive of activity, with donations to sort, and our excellent regular customers to serve. We are always receiving new donations so our shelves are regularly filled with fresh stock and different items.
I know that our regular customers in Witham have really missed popping into our shop for a browse and a chat; there is always a warm welcome waiting. However we can only reopen if we have enough volunteers to man the shop.”
For more information on volunteering please call Kate Alden on 07730 209442 or you can email her on [email protected]
Anne Keating and Beth Carder both already volunteer at the Witham Charity Shop so we caught up with them to see what being a retail volunteer entails…
What is your age and where do you live?
Anne: I'm 54 and live in Witham.
Beth: I’m 66 and also live in Witham.
How long have you been volunteering in the HRCC Witham shop?
Anne: Nearly a year.
Beth: Over eight years.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you became a retail volunteer.
Anne: After being made redundant in 2017 I decided to find some voluntary work. HRCC appealed to me because I remember Helen Rollason when she was on television, it's a local Essex charity and like most people, I have lost loved ones to cancer.
Beth: Once l retired l had a few hours to spare each week so decided to get involved in a local charity, one that was cancer related as both friends and family have been affected by this disease.
Describe your average day in the shop.
Anne: The work can be varied; from serving customers to sorting donations, arranging displays, pricing goods and steaming clothes.
Beth: Donation pricing and sorting, arranging items on the shelves and keeping the shop neat and tidy.
What have you gained from working in the shop?
Anne: Retail experience and new friends.
Beth: It is very satisfying and gives me a purpose.
What skills do you think potential new retail volunteers need?
Anne: Common sense, a friendly approach and a good sense of humour.
Beth: Good with people, versatile and flexible with your time.
Anne: Walking, seeing friends and swimming.
Beth: Walking my Jack Russell and spending time in the summer months at my caravan.
Friends reach target for new path
The Friends of Leigh Library Gardens (FOLLG) have reached their fundraising target to install a new People’s Path in the Upper Gardens thanks to fantastic community support and a generous donation from the Lions Club of Leigh-on-Sea.
A new path along the desire line in the Gardens which runs along the hedge behind the buildings on Broadway West was identified as a priority for local residents and users of the Gardens at the Public Consultation help in December 2019. It represented a significant cost and the Friends could only undertake the project with help from the community. Fundraising began in August and the Friends were supported by many local shops and businesses who displayed the People’s Path posters to raise awareness of the campaign.
The amount needed to install the path was £5615. Over the last two months individuals and local companies have donated and helped the fund reach more than £3,500. The Leigh-on-Sea Lions voted to donate the remaining monies and ensure the project could go ahead.
Tim Watts, President of the Lions Club of Leigh-on-Sea, explained how the Club became involved: "Leigh Lions have been serving the town for nearly 30 years and during the COVID crisis, we've been supporting many local people who are shielding. We have seen just how important our open spaces have become in that time, so we were pleased to join with others in the community in supporting FOLLG's appeal and improve our much loved Library Gardens.
One of Lions' key causes is the environment, and having quality green space is vital to people's well-being. We feel that the new path will make the Gardens more accessible, as well as generally improving the appearance of the space."
Russell Hallmark, Chair of the Friends of Leigh Library Gardens said “We are so delighted with the response from the local community who have donated because they value the Gardens and have happy memories of taking their children or grandchildren there and the businesses such as the Redmond Group who made larger donations. The People’s Path is a lasting benefit for all Library Gardens users and a testament to People power. We want to thank everyone who donated. We are really, really grateful.”
Work parties in the Gardens take place from 10 - 11.30am on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday and the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month. No gardening experience is needed and no special skills are required. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends, get some exercise in the fresh air and benefit the local community. All are welcome.
Anyone wishing to join the Friends of Leigh Library Gardens should make contact by emailing [email protected] As well as work in the Gardens, there are other roles and tasks to do such as fundraising and publicity.
Follow the Friends of Leigh Library Gardens on Facebook @friendsofleighlibrarygdns to keep updated with developments.
World Sight Day fundraiser helps mental health and wellbeing
When six staff from Southend in Sight started their 117 Challenge on 1st October, their aim was to raise some funds for the charity and mark World Sight Day on 8th October, the day their challenge ended. What they did not expect was that the challenge would be good for their morale and mental wellbeing too.
With many fundraising events postponed at the moment because of the ongoing Covid 19 restrictions, staff at Southend in Sight are having to be imaginative about how they keep funds coming in to the independent sight loss charity to support the many visually impaired people across Southend borough who rely on the charity. Staff managed to complete the challenge and clocked up even more miles covering 158 miles between the six of them. The challenge raised more than £500 in total, all of which will go towards the charity’s services for those living with sight loss.
The 117 challenge took the number of the building the charity is based at, 117 Hamlet Court Road and had staff attempt to walk or run 117 miles over seven days. Volunteers and the charity’s members also took part walking 11.7miles over the weekend 3rd and 4th October.
Catherine Hodgson, Community Fundraiser at Southend in Sight said: “The 117 Challenge was a great way to raise some funds but what also came out of it most was how good it was for staff morale and mental wellbeing. We all enjoyed getting outside and walking or running with a purpose.”
Exercise naturally and effectively relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy and enhances well-being so for the Southend in Sight team to get out and walk or run was hugely beneficial for them as well as good for the charity.
Catherine continued: “The shame of finding that a colleague had walked more than you had spurred us all on to achieve more! Thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged us to walk in the wind and the rain over the week of the challenge - it was definitely worth it.”
A sudden cardiac arrest can happen at any time to any person. Southend has a population of over 180,000 and 6.4m visitors every year, but very few defibrillators available 24/7. These devices can help save lives by delivering a high energy shock. Quick access to a defibrillator within four minutes of an arrest can make the difference between life and death. The units are designed to be used by anyone and no prior medical knowledge is required.
Thorpe Bay Rotary Club has launched a crowdfunding appeal to fund the provision of two more units along the seafront between the Pier and Shoeburyness.
Rtn Steve Gale who is leading the project said: ‘Our Club has lost three very active members due to unexpected cardiac events and members wanted to do something for the community in their memory.’
The Club, along with Leigh Rotary and the Carli Lansley Foundation, have already installed units to the west of the pier.
The appeal is live now, but the organisers are hoping as many donations as possible will be made on Tuesday, 1st December. This is #Giving Tuesday when the GlobalGiving crowdfunding platform boosts all donations made on the day with a share of a US $1m fund. All donations, however large or small, are eligible.
An ongoing part of the project will be Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training and the production of an up to date location map of defibrillator units.
Club President, Richard Hair, said: ‘Our ultimate aim is to ensure that as many people as possible have ready access to defibrillators across South East Essex and the confidence to use them in an emergency.’
Visit: https://goto.gg/48393 for further information and to donate.
Rotary Defibrillators – Saving Lives In Southend on Sea