This summer Shared Space went from strength to strength. Can you volunteer to help us become the best charity shop in Essex?
Investing in the local community
With record sales, Shared Space kept offering its Boost Fund Grants in its Southchurch and Westcliff stores. The scheme allows local causes to apply for a £100 donation to help them transform our community. Over the summer, charities that received a donation included Southend Food Bank and Open Arts, an organisation that run art therapy groups for people with mental health issues in Hadleigh.
Shared Space store manager, Helen, said, “These grants are a great opportunity for us to support worthy causes. They also mark Shared Space out as the local charity shop that puts the money they raise directly back into the community”.
Investing in our volunteers
The past few months have also seen a jam-packed programme for our volunteers. More than 60 of them attended the annual summer celebration where they spent the afternoon reminiscing about all we have achieved as a community. There was live music; DIY pizza making table tennis and more. Shared Space volunteer, John, said, “It was good to be apart of the shared space team and party together. I had great fun!”.
Then, in July, a group of Shared Space volunteers, together with Church From Scratch, headed to fields of East Mersey for the co-created Baptist festival, Fire Camp. Once there, they discussed life and faith around roaring bonfires; flew kites and slept under the stars in tree-hung hammocks. Volunteer Chris Tourle said, “I had an amazing time. We met new people; caught up with old friends and ate great food as we explored following Jesus”.
It pays off
The effort that Shared Space puts into skilling up volunteers continues to pay-off as even more transition into training or paid employment. We recently had the pleasure of sending long-term shop worker, Jen, off to do a counselling course. While we will miss Jen dearly, we are proud of the role we played in helping her take the next step. Speaking of her time at Shared Space, she said:
“When I walked into the shop nearly two years ago to ask if I could volunteer, your first concern was how to make it possible for me to do so. I felt welcomed and wanted from that very first moment.
My time with Shared Space has been life-changing. I’ve learned so much about myself and about what I’m capable of achieving, a complete reversal of my usual viewpoint of looking at my limitations instead. I’ve learned enormous amounts from you about patience, acceptance and care for others. I’ve met some fantastic people, staff and regular customers, and I am going to miss you all very much.”
Rooted in the Christian Faith
Shared Space continues its mission of being good news by living according to Jesus’ commitment to radical inclusion. As part of this, Grace has launched an English conversation class to empower locals to improve their English and confidence. The classes happen in the Westcliff store every Thursday at 1:30 pm and all are welcome.
Grace said, “It has been great to get to know people and see their English improve. There is such a lovely atmosphere in the group, and I’m excited to see how it grows and develops in the future.”
Moreover, it won’t be long before with the help of CFS, Life and Faith groups are running in both the Westcliff and Southchurch stores. While the Southchurch store has been running one for a while, the Westcliff group is due to begin this September. The first six sessions will draw inspiration from the teachings of Jesus, providing a space for volunteers and friends to explore some of the great themes of Jesus.
Keep up the Momentum
As Shared Space continues to grow, we need more volunteers to help us become the best charity shop in Essex. Can you commit to doing your bit with just one shift a week?