Charity shops set to be ‘treasure trove of gems’ after lockdown clear-outs

Charity shops are expected to be a treasure trove of “gems” when they reopen due to people clearing out their homes during lockdown.

Oxfam, which is reopening around 10 stores this week and dozens more within a fortnight, said it will be isolating donated items for 72 hours before being sorted to prevent the risk of contamination.

The charity will also have measures in place including restrictions on how many people are allowed in store, hand sanitiser, screen guards at tills and face masks and gloves for staff. Changing rooms will also be shut.

Fee Gilfeather, head of audience and strategic planning at Oxfam, said that despite the raft of safety measures it will be an “exciting shopping experience”.

She told the PA news agency: “From a shopper perspective I think that people can expect to find some really great treasures to buy, because everybody’s had a lockdown clear-out, and I think that charity shops are going to be full of some really great gems that people have cleared out of their homes.”

Ms Gilfeather said people should check with the shop in advance about the best time to drop off donations.

More volunteers will be needed due to the expected influx of donations and also due to many current volunteers being in the vulnerable category and possibly shielding.

The minimum age for volunteers at Oxfam is 14, so Ms Gilfeather said it is the perfect opportunity for young people to gain retail skills and experience in their community.

Each Oxfam shop relies on a team of more than 30 volunteers to operate.

It was announced earlier this month that charity shops have struck a deal with a youth programme to help fill up to 95,000 volunteer roles as the sector recovers from the pandemic.

The National Citizen Service (NCS) is partnering with charity shops for the first phase of its One Million Hours of Doing Good campaign, which will encourage those aged 16-18 to transform their “summer of disappointment” through volunteering.

It estimates around 100,000 teenagers could engage with the programme, based on the uptake of previous schemes, but hopes more will take part given the disruption of normal activities.

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