Charities overwhelmed by donation surge - but stress they aren't 'tips'

John Watson, manager at PACT animal sanctuary on Norwich Lanes

John Watson, manager at PACT animal sanctuary on Norwich Lanes - Credit: Sarah Burgess

Charity shops in Norwich say they've been "overwhelmed" with donations since reopening - but have reminded people they are not substitutes for a tip.

After an Oxfam charity shop in Norwich found itself buried under a mountain of 40,000 book donations, others in the city say they have had similar experiences.

For PACT Animal Sanctuary charity shop on Norwich Lanes, custom has been "non-stop" since they reopened to the public in April. 

Manager Bernie Brentford said: "On the first day we reopened there were queues down to Tesco from 9am. It's absolutely booming."

Lorraine Blake, shop assistant at PACT Animal Sanctuary

Lorraine Blake, shop assistant at PACT Animal Sanctuary - Credit: Sarah Burgess

While hugely appreciative of the donation surge, fellow manager John Watson said: "What does tend to happen which isn't great is that people use charity shops a bit like a tip. Actual tips charge a lot of money to dispose of some waste - so people come to us instead.

"But we have to pay to get rid of that."


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"Still", he continued, "we'd never turn anything down. That's just silly."

Mr Watson explained that the odd donation of immense value always made it worth putting up with the rest.

Shoppers browsing the designer clothing rail at PACT Animal Sanctuary

Shoppers browsing the designer clothing rail at PACT Animal Sanctuary - Credit: Sarah Burgess

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"Two people who run fashion shows and have rescue dogs from PACT gave us £30,000 worth of designer items a while ago, and gave us more again just two weeks back", he explained.

"They gave us huge bags of Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent clothing, as well as some Christian Louboutin shoes which had been worn once by a fashion model and sold for £500."

Thecla Fellas, who runs Asperger East Anglia's charity Shop on St John Maddermarket and the two branches in Beccles, said footfall had fallen in their store, but online eBay sales had tripled and kept revenue buoyant.

Paula Ingle (left) and Rosalynd Boldero - shop assistants at Asperger's East Anglia charity shop

Paula Ingle (left) and Rosalynd Boldero - shop assistants at Asperger's East Anglia charity shop - Credit: Sarah Burgess

Ms Fellas said: "Donation wise we've been extremely lucky because we had the resources to continue accepting donations even over lockdown. We've definitely got plenty to sell.

"Clearly people are upgrading their homes since they have more money saved. Funny enough, we've ended up with freezers, cookers and dishwashers being donated."

For the Big C store on Magdalen Street in Norwich, while "very grateful" for the amount of stock being dropped off by the public, there's been so many donations staff are having to spend two designated days a week simply rifting through it all.

Cora Donnellan (left) and shop volunteer Brian at the Big C's premises on Magdalen Street

Cora Donnellan (left) and shop volunteer Brian at the Big C's premises on Magdalen Street - Credit: Sarah Burgess

Assistant retail manager for the charity Laverne Colk said: "A general issue we've found is that many donations aren't of good quality.

"We've been given clothes with holes in, or bric-a-brac that's broken and unsaleable.

"We then have to dispose of that at our own cost."

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