'Excitement' as Ashgate Hospicecare's charity shops and cafes prepare to reopen next week
Staff who work for Ashgate Hospicecare’s network of charity shops and cafes are making the final preparations to reopen for the first time this year, in line with new lockdown easing rules on Monday.
Customers will be welcomed back into the Chesterfield charity’s shops on April 12, as non-essential retail is given the green light to open back up after the third wave of the Covid-19 crisis at the start of this year forced stores to close.
Ashgate Hospicecare has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic after losing more than £3 million in revenue since the start of the pandemic and their 14 shops and three coffee shops had to shut for large periods over the last 12 months.
While the hospice’s retail staff and volunteers were furloughed for most of 2020, colleagues shared what it will mean to be reunited with customers when they return to work on Monday in a video, as the charity calls for shoppers to support them next week.
Manager of Ashgate Hospicecare’s Chesterfield shop in South Street Pat Standen said: “We’re all so excited about reopening that we’ve been dancing down the street!
"I can’t wait to get to spend time with my wonderful team of staff and volunteers again.
“And it's going to be brilliant to welcome all of our generous supporters to the shop; we hope to see some new faces visiting us too!
“It feels like such a long time, we’ve all really missed being at work having spent most of the last 12 months on furlough.
"Ashgate cared for my mum and brother which motivates me to help fund care for future families who might need the hospice, so I’m delighted to be back."
Strict measures will remain in place on April 12 to prevent the spread of the virus, including perspex screens at pay points, Covid secure shop layouts to enable social distancing and limiting the number of customers in each shop.
Ashgate will also reopen its coffee shop in Hasland for takeaway only, while the charity’s coffee shops in Clowne and Shirebrook are expected to remain closed until May 17.
Head of retail operations at Ashgate Hospicecare Laura Stevens added: “We can’t wait to welcome our wonderful supporters back through the doors of our shops on Monday.
“It’s been a difficult start to the year for our volunteers and staff who have been furloughed, but they’re all eager to get going so they can help fund the vital care Ashgate provides.
“The kindness and generosity of people across North Derbyshire has meant we’ve been able to restock the shelves of our shops with new items ready for our reopening.
“We never take a single donation of clothing or a purchase from one of our shops for granted, so thank you to all the amazing supporters who have continued to support us during these challenging times.”
Anyone wishing to donate items to the charity is urged to call their local store in advance to check for an available drop-off time.
The charity are also appealing for retail volunteers to help the shops reopen.
To find out more about working at Ashgate’s charity shops speak to a manager in your local store or visit their website.