Today, the original Kinross branch of the charity shop run by Children’s Hospices Across Scotland – better known as CHAS – was commended by various figures from Scottish politics, who joined staff and volunteers in celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The prosperous retail outlet – which has evolved into two units on Kinross High Street – now comprises a ladies wear boutique and a general charity shop offering clothing, toys, books and music.
Alongside local hospice Rachel House, which the charity’s retail arm was set up to support, the Kinross shop has become a focal point in the town, taking a significant place in the hearts of local residents since opening in 1999. Last year, the outlet raised some £160,000, thanks in no small part to a remarkable volunteer force and a steady stream of donated goods from households across the region. Several of the volunteers behind the scenes have remained with the shop since day one.
Endorsements to recognise the occasion have come thick and fast from Scottish politics, with Luke Graham MSP, Murdo Fraser MSP and Bruce Crawford MSP joining Alex Rowley MSP in commending the significant impact the outlet has made to the local community and beyond. The cake was cut by Jess Greenhall and Jean Barclay, who have been with the shop for the duration.
Christine Brookes, Deputy Shop Manager, said: “Having traded in Kinross for 20 years, the team at CHAS retail feel very proud of their fundraising to support Rachel House and CHAS. We have amazing support from the Kinross community and surrounding areas, receiving an ongoing flow of very generous donations which is crucial to maintain stock levels, which in turn generates income. We have very loyal customers and it’s always nice to hear stories of when they were brought into the shop as a child to choose a toy or book and now bring their children in to keep that tradition going.
“Adapting the shops to suit customer demand is essential and in spring 2018 our smaller shop was refurbished and the product offer was changed from books and collectables, to offering purely ladies wear and accessories. The change was well received and we have received many compliments on the look of the shop and while retaining existing customers, it is also attracting new customers as word has spread regarding the quality and brands of stock we have to offer. The team at the shops work hard to maintain the window displays and again often receive compliments.
“Of course everything that happens in the shops is due to our amazing team of volunteers who give their time to CHAS. Many volunteers have been at the shops since the opening 20 years ago and have seen many changes as they continue to evolve. We have a broad age range of volunteers, from 15 to 86, including young school age volunteers who are working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award. All our volunteers are at different ages and stages but their contribution is invaluable, they all bring skills to CHAS and gain new skills and friendships with other volunteers.”
Alex Rowley, Labour MSP for the Mid Scotland and Fife region said: “I am delighted to be here to celebrate 20 years of this local institution, having watched a community grow around CHAS since the charity was founded. I have witnessed the welcoming atmosphere of Rachel House first-hand over the years and have high praise for the work of staff, volunteers and the support that this facility and the CHAS at Home service is able to offer children and families in the most difficult circumstances.
“Today I have seen how the shop assists in that crucial quest – the volume of incoming donations from the public and the efforts made by the voluntary group that keeps the shop operational are inspirational. A community endeavour with a lot of heart.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, who also represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, added: “CHAS provide a valuable service and I’m proud to provide my support to them as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their shop in Kinross. The shop has become a driving force for the charity right in the heart of Kinross.”
The celebration cake was provided by Leigh Smith, who also visits children and families at Rachel House with her Golden Retriever, Craggan, as part of Canine Concern Scotland’s Therapets scheme.
To get involved in CHAS as a volunteer, whether you’d like to help run one of the Kinross shops or represent the charity as an ambassador in your community, the full range of current opportunities can be found online at chas.org.uk