Flood of donations expected as charity shops prepare for reopening

Charity shops are expecting a large volume of donations when they reopen and plan to isolate items for 72 hours before they go on sale as part of measures to ensure the safety of customers.

The Government said charity shops are among retailers that can resume trading from June 15, but at least one charity is saying it will only commit to reopening once it is “safe to do so”.

Charities are asking people who have spent time de-cluttering their homes during lockdown not to leave donations outside shops and to be “thoughtful” about when they donate.

The Government is also being urged to give more “definitive” guidelines regarding how long items should be left before being put out on sale.

Oxfam said it is working on a “detailed plan” to enable its shops to reopen but does not currently have a confirmed date, and pointed out that many of its 20,000 shop volunteers are elderly.

The charity said in a statement: “Our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and customers.

“Many of our volunteers are elderly and vulnerable and we are acutely conscious of our responsibilities towards them.

“We are following government advice and are taking comprehensive steps to create a safe environment, including ensuring social distancing within the shops, providing personal protective equipment, regular cleaning of all surfaces, doors and equipment, and the isolation of donated items for 72 hours prior to listing for sale.

“We welcome the fact that many people are taking the opportunity to de-clutter during lockdown and we are asking people to hold on to those items for now and donate them to Oxfam when the shops and donation banks are open again.”

FARA said it will only be reopening its shops “when each shop is safe to do so as our first priority is the safety of our staff and volunteers, customers and donors”.

The charity, which supports vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in Romania, said: “We are at present carrying out comprehensive risk assessments on all our locations and when each location will open will depend on whether it can meet the current safety guidelines laid down by the Government.

“We do expect a large volume of donations when the shops reopen and will be setting aside space in our warehouse and shops to deal with those donations and will be communicating with our regular donors in advance about the matter and hoping they will be thoughtful about when they donate.

“Clearly the handling of donated goods by our staff, volunteers and customers presents a particular concern and we are looking at a range of measures to reduce the risk of handling donations.

“This includes quarantining donations for 72 hours from the time they are donated, implementing an even more thorough cleaning regime in our shops, steam-cleaning all clothing thoroughly, offering hand sanitiser to all visitors on entrance to our stores, asking customers not to touch items while in store unless they are ready to buy, closing our dressing rooms for use for a period of time, to name but a few.”

Traid (Textile Reuse and International Development) is planning a phased reopening of its charity shops around June 18, beginning with the most spacious stores in Dalston, Kilburn, Peckham and Shepherd’s Bush.

Chief executive Maria Chenoweth said: “Currently, the Charity Retail Association recommends quarantining clothes and textile donations for 72 hours, which we are able to do.

“However, Traid is keen for something more definitive from the Government regarding how long clothes and textile donations should be left before putting on sale.”

The British Heart Foundation said “a small number” of its shops will reopen from mid-June with measures in place including “social distancing measures, protective equipment for staff and volunteers and the safe collection and processing of donated items”.

The charity’s retail director, Allison Swaine-Hughes, said: “Once these new ways of working are established, we will continue to reopen our 750 nationwide shops and stores over the following weeks.”

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