You can’t fail to have been moved by the harrowing images that have been across social media recently; refugees crammed into boats that have seen better days, adrift in the ocean, no supplies, their only belongings are the clothes they stand up in as they go in search of a safer future for their families.
It was these very scenes that galvanised a group of friends to collect and transport clothing donations to a drop off point in Wallasey – but when the drop off point became overwhelmed, it closed, forcing the friends to house the donations in a barn.
But the donations continued to flood in to such an extent that the generous-spirited group approached Flintshire County Council who found them a 4000 sq. foot warehouse and offered 3 months lease free!
With backing from the local community continuing – and the mountains of clothing growing – it became obvious that they could help people in need here and abroad so a charity was set up to support both refugees and people who are homeless in the United Kingdom: SHARE (Supporting Homeless Assisting Refugees Everywhere).
So in January 2016, Share Shop in Chester opened!
A charity shop that also allows customers to purchase tokens, which means you are directly donating to homeless people. The shop also offers ‘suspended coffees and food’ so customers can pay for a hot drink or meal in advance and someone in need can come in to claim it.
If this wasn’t fabulous enough, SHARE plan to use 50% of the profits from the shop to purchase a derelict local house and, with the help of local businesses, do it up and move people in who need a home. Tenants will then be offered work in the shop to gain valuable work experience and skills.
And if people find themselves cold at night, or in need of other necessary items (or even a few heartfelt words), there is this: the kindness wall. Situated in the porch – giving 24 hour access to those sleeping rough in the city – coat hooks with warm clothes and toiletries with notes of support.
If you would like to get involved, to donate or volunteer, you can find out more here.