A Gift Card For Good

By Sarah Cox, The Charity Shop Gift Card

When shopping in charity shops you are helping to keep clothing and other items out of landfill.  Prolonging the life of garments that would otherwise have been thrown away, reduces carbon emissions and saves water.  

The Charity Retail Association estimates that charities with a retail presence lost around £28m a month during the various lockdowns, not to mention suffering from the loss of vital staff and now needing volunteers more than ever.  It was clear on social media and in the press that the reopening of charity shops in summer of this year was what the public had all been waiting for – whether to donate the accumulation of lockdown clear-outs or just to have a good old rummage! – so a solution that helps access the £7bn gift card market could certainly go some way to helping charities recover.  Of course the seasoned charity-shoppers among us know that there’s something special about charity shops, they are not ‘just’ shops; they provide a sense of community, belonging and purpose to their staff, their volunteers and their customers, who all represent a diverse cross-section of society.  

Sarah from The Charity Shop Gift Card says “In much the same way that a gift card bought as a present puts the onus on choice for the recipient, a charity gift card brings all the benefits of charity shopping to people experiencing financial hardship by making the card available to councils and other support agencies as a sustainable solution to welfare assistance.”

It could be someone who has experienced homelessness and now has accommodation, refugees who came here with no more than the clothes on their backs, people who are fleeing domestic abuse and need everything to start over again or maybe just one of the millions experiencing in-work poverty who dread the thought of the changing seasons because they can’t make ends meet, let alone afford new winter coats and shoes for their kids. When you are reliant on donations of essentials to get by, choice – something we often take for granted  – becomes a privilege.  By becoming part of the solution for welfare assistance a gift card to spend in a charity shop can help put some agency and dignity back into the lives of people who have lost the luxury of choice or been stripped of their identity.  It gives them access to all the clothing, furniture, homewares and toys, to suit all tastes, that people donate to charity shops.  The Charity Shop Gift Card research shows that it will go a long way towards rebuilding self-esteem and, ultimately, mental health.