A CHARITY that has had a shop in Bury St Edmunds for more than 20 years has transferred ownership of its retail chain to the UK’s largest children’s charity.
The Home Farm Trust (Hft), which helps people with learning disabilities, has been a familiar sight in St John’s Street, but two weeks ago the store and its stock were among 18 transferred to Barnardo’s, a charity that helps vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people with drug misuse, disability, sexual abuse, poverty and homelessness.
Jacqui Gwilliam, Hft director of communications and fund-raising, said it had become increasingly difficult to obtain donated stock.
She said: “We’re not a terribly well known charity; nationally we don’t have a high profile like Barnardo’s, and we’re also not local the way hospices are, hospice shops do very well – they are our two biggest struggles.”
“Larger charities are better placed to serve at the moment because they can invest and have economies of scale we can’t compete with,” she added.
Hft’s trustees made the decision following an independent strategic review of its retail operations and all permanent staff were also transferred.
Melanie Pattenden, assistant manager of the Bury store, said the transfer had come as ‘quite a surprise’.
“It’s a shame to lose a smaller, more independent charity shop in Bury but Barnardo’s is a very good cause – it does so much to support people within the community and we really need the support of local people for donations and volunteers,” she said.
Gerard Cousins, Barnardo’s director of retail and trading, said: “I believe Barnardo’s work has a link with that of Hft, therefore staff, volunteers and customers can be assured that they will continue to raise money to help those in need.”
Whilst not wanting to understate the role its shops have played in the past, Ms Gwilliam said Hft’s annual turnover of around £40 million was funded largely by local authorities.
“The closing of shops is not going to affect the services that we deliver, we’re not reliant on shops to enable us to do that,” she said.
To find out how you can continue to support Hft, visit www.hft.org.uk/SupportUs