The United Free Church on Malvern Road in Beeston recently celebrated a giant milestone, the Friday charity shop and café had officially been open for ten years.
Established in 2009 the charity shop had humble beginnings opening for a trial period of six months, it wasn’t clear whether the shop would be something that was required by the community or whether it would be viable. As it turns out the charity shop has helped to pay for various essential repairs to the church including a new boiler and roof and the shop is still helping to maintain the church to this day.
During my visit the volunteers were keen to talk about the fact that they are able to offer the hall affordably to the community thanks to the shop and that many community groups do currently use the space. The charity shop itself is considered outreach with many of the customers coming week in and week out enjoying a cup of tea and natter with the volunteers.
The charity shop is fully supported by a base of volunteers and although there are sometimes new faces, generally the same people who are running things now were running the shop throughout the ten years it has been open. Everything sold at the shop, apart from the coffee and delicious biscuits, are donated by people from the local community and from communities a little further out such as Morley.
The offerings are always of a good quality, I even noticed some good condition prams and most of the time the volunteers actually know where they have come from and are able to feed back to the donators where the items have gone. When I visited I saw that a lot of the items on offer, especially in the Christmas room, were brand new and offered at a very affordable price. During the run up to the Christmas period what is usually the furniture room is transformed into a pop-up Christmas shop filled with potential gifts and festive themed items, it’s almost like walking into a grotto.
I met with a few mothers who have been coming to the shop since their children were babies, one commented:
“It’s a great place to come for a coffee and to just chill out after dropping the kids off at school. The ladies are always alright with us and happy to talk when they have a minute.”
The charity shop café has a lovely feeling when you walk in and the volunteers are always on hand to help you out or have a chat if they’re not busy and there’s plenty of space to sit down and socialise or sit and contemplate over a hot drink if you need some space.
I can’t recommend this space enough on a Friday morning, go and see for yourself you never know you might bag a bargain along the way! The café is open from 8.30am on a Friday morning until around 11.15am and they never close apart from at Christmas and at Easter, if the volunteers can get there the café will open! Congratulations to the volunteers and here’s to the next ten years!