St Catherine’s Hospice shops are really thriving in Lancashire

Heather Crabtree, manager of the St Catherine's Hospice fashion boutique in Fulwood
Heather Crabtree, manager of the St Catherine's Hospice fashion boutique in Fulwood

Charity shops have become a staple feature of our town centres, offering bargain-hunters an array of one-of-a-kind finds without the high street price tags.

For St Catherine’s Hospice, pre-loved donations mean big business, with a large team of staff and volunteers contributing to the success of 18 charity shops across Preston, South Ribble and Chorley, with the newest venture opening its doors in Adlington last year.

Suzie Richards, area retail manager for St Catherine's Hospice, at the reception gift shop

Suzie Richards, area retail manager for St Catherine's Hospice, at the reception gift shop

Suzie Richards, one of the charity’s three area retail managers, says: “It’s really quite incredible what you can find in a charity shop – chances are you’ll walk away with what you came in for, as well as some amazing deals you just couldn’t resist.

“Charity shopping is so affordable and we receive such great quality donations from our fantastic supporters, that there’s always something new to discover. I think people are sometime surprised to learn how many charity shops St Catherine’s has, and the variety of stock we sell too.

“We have a number of general shops for clothing, bric-a-brac, toys, CDs, DVDs and more, as well as two book shops in Ashton and Chorley, furniture shops in Leyland and Chorley, and the St Catherine’s Superstore in Preston which has it all – it’s a one-stop charity shopping emporium.

“One of our pride and joys is the fabulous St Catherine’s Bridal Boutique based at our Lune Street shop in Preston city centre, which has a wide range of fabulous wedding dresses including by designers Mori Lee and Maggie Sottero, as well as bridesmaid and prom dresses, mother-of-the-bride outfits, and suits.”

We do have vacancies so we’d love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved and join our friendly team.

Heather Crabtree

The St Catherine’s trading team is supported by around 500 dedicated volunteers who help sort through donations, serve customers, and keep the shops looking their best.

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Volunteer Andy Hazell, 53, from Ashton, has been giving his time one afternoon a week at the book shop in Wellington Road for the last four years.

He explains: “I started volunteering at the book shop and then ended up being offered two jobs after the interviewers as a result. Demonstrating that I’d been supporting a charity and was a reliable member of the team really helped me get back in to work.

Andy Hazell volunteers at the St Catherine's Hospice book shop in Ashton

Andy Hazell volunteers at the St Catherine's Hospice book shop in Ashton

“I find volunteering incredibly rewarding and extremely enjoyable and I’ve found that by giving something back, I’ve actually got far more in return.”

The charity also has three ladies’ fashion boutiques in Fulwood, Penwortham and Longton, selling top-end high street and well-known labels.

Heather Crabtree, 42, is the manager at the Fulwood store in Black Bull Lane. She says: “We have some really great customers who have become friends over the years, and the volunteers are fantastic. Everyone has a different motivation for volunteering – some are retired and want to get out of the house and keep busy for a few hours a week, while others are looking for work experience to boost their confidence and improve their CV or applications for work, college or university.

“I think that’s what makes my job so unique and special; our volunteers genuinely want to be here and are so committed and enthusiastic. We do have vacancies so we’d love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved and join our friendly team.”

St Catherine’s shop volunteers cover shifts from just three hours a week, and there are a range of opportunities available across the organisation, from lending a hand at the hospice’s reception gift shop and coffee bar, to serving refreshments and snacks at the tea bar managed by St Catherine’s at Preston Magistrate’s Court.

Other roles include shop assistants across the general charity shops, fashion boutiques, furniture shops and book shops, and van drivers and van buddies to help with furniture collections and deliveries.

For more details about volunteering, visit www.stcatherines.co.uk or call 01772 629171.