National branches worst affected by cold weather

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The recent spell of bad weather has hit charity shops hard, with donations of items reducing by as much as 50 per cent.

Managers of local charity shops have blamed the decrease on the icy roads, slippery pavements and freezing temperatures, which have deterred people from taking donations into the shops.

However, it appears that in north Northumberland and Berwickshire, local charities with shops have avoided the decline in donations that branches of national charities have experienced.

Debbie Calder, manager of the British Heart Foundation shop in Marygate, Berwick, said: “Unfortunately, the recent extreme weather conditions have left many people in Berwick unable to give, with donations dropping as much as 50 per cent.

“This has a severe impact on ability to raise funds and we’d like to appeal to the public for help.

Debbie added: “We are always extremely grateful to the local community for donating their unwanted items to help us raise vital funds to save lives locally. Local support is so important to us, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their ongoing help over the year and in the build up to Christmas.”

The managers of the two Cancer Research UK shops in Berwick have also noted a large drop in the amount of donations coming into the shops in recent weeks.

Joe Orrock and Suzanne Downie are now appealing for people to put the extra time spent at home to good use, by having a good sort out, ready for the thaw. They said: “The extra time spent indoors during this wintry weather is a great excuse to refresh your house ready for spring.

“By bagging up your unwanted items and bringing them to us, you’ll ensure that rather than leaving items to gather dust in a cupboard, you’ll be helping to raise funds for vital cancer research.”

Joe and Suzanne added: “We would like to thank our fantastic team of volunteers for their hard work and dedication in trying to keep the shops open during this extreme weather.’’

Despite the experience of those shops, Betty Drum, manager of the Berwick Animal Rescue Kennels (BARK) shop in Church Street, Berwick, said that their shop had only had a small drop in donations.

Betty, from Reston, told the Berwickshire News: “They have gone down a bit, but the donations have been quite good since we re-opened after Christmas.

“I feel we are a bit better off because we are a local charity and people know that we are feeding the animals at the kennels at the top end of the town.”

BARK recently took on a flat attached to the town centre shop which is used for storage of donated items, and Betty said that this and the shop itself had remained well stocked, although they always welcomed more donations.

She said: “We just had a slight dip in donations, which really just made it easier for us to handle them. We were certainly not desperate, and donations are still coming in.”

She added: “It is really surprising the quality of the stuff we get, it gets better and better.”

The local charity recently held a raffle in the shop which proved very successful, and Betty thanked all those who had supported it, either through donations of prizes or ticket sales.

She said: “We have got a huge amount of support out there. We had the shop raffle and the things we were given for that were quite outstanding.”

Tony Fowler, senior officer for Berwickshire Association for Voluntary Service (BAVS), which has charity shops in Eyemouth, Duns and Coldstream, said that sales had been hit by the bad weather.

“It is difficult to say if donations dropped but I would imagine they would have. We had to close some of the shops during the bad weather, the Coldstream one because it was too dangerous to get down to the Market Square, and the Duns and Eyemouth ones because there was nobody really going about in the towns, so that hit sales.”

He added: “We get such good donations at all three shops that we have always got stock to fall back on anyway.”

Mr Fowler also said that the manager of the Eyemouth shop had actually ended up going into the shop over the Christmas and New Year holidays because people were still leaving donations for the shop on the doorstep.

BAVS was established in 1971 with the task of supporting, advising and providing services to voluntary groups in the Berwickshire area, including: helping to initiate assessment of community needs, promoting the development of new organisations and projects, providing information, advice and administrative back-up, and enabling public participation in local affairs.