LETTER: In defence of charity shops

I WAS disappointed to read the letter from the councillor published in your latest edition which talks about charity shops giving a second-hand image to the town.

Second-hand does not mean second-rate and there are so many benefits and positives to charity shops. Not only do they raise income for their respective cause, they are a way of recycling unwanted items at a time when refuse is a huge issue. They provide customers with affordable items, they give employment to paid staff and work experience to their volunteers.

The councillor states that charities have deep pockets.

In Cancer Research UK where every penny is committed to vital research, this is not the case.

We have to pay rent, rates, wages, refuse costs, utilities etc before any of our funds can be ploughed into curing cancer. Therefore we have to consider very carefully before committing to any expenditure, just like any other retailer.

We have traded in Midhurst for 23 years. This would not be possible if we were not a successful retailer.

This month is children’s cancer month. Our research has helped to transform the survival rates for children with this disease.

Survival rates are now 75 per cent and rising but there is still so much more to do to save more lives. With a trial into children’s leukaemia costing £13,000 per month, we need to invest carefully to get the best return possible for our supporters.

It is interesting that the criticism of charity shops in Midhurst is not coming from the other retailers or from the community, but from the councillors themselves .

In these challenging times, retailing is hard whatever the sector, and store openings present challenges for all of us. However when we heard that Saint Wilfrid’s was opening a shop near us, our thoughts were to wish them well as they provide invaluable support to people with terminal cancer, rather than concern about how it would impact on us.

The Cancer Research UK store at North Street Midhurst has a comments book full of praise from supporters.

These are from both local residents and visitors to Goodwood and Cowdray.

Myself or the full-time-employed shop manager would welcome the councillor visiting the store at any time.

We would be happy to show him both the comments book and our immaculate standards in order to reassure him that we are not lowering the tone of the town. Any retailer in Midhurst would be proud to have a store with our image and feedback.

Yvonne O’Connor

Area Manager Cancer Research UK, Surrey and Sussex