During a time when so many people are struggling with their own finances, our expanding chain of shops is more and more the lifeblood of the cash needed to support our work. For Christians and churches looking to reach out to the desperate and deprived both here and overseas, supporting one of our existing 22 shops, or helping us start a brand new one, is a great form of ministry.
But, there is more….. over half of the aid sent overseas is donated via the shops; even the clothing which is too bad to use raises 50p a kilo (£500 a tonne). IAT shops are different, we believe! They are the practical outreach of a living church, staffed and supported by Christians and non-Christians, reaching into the community, providing a listening ear and comforting word, and enabling groups of willing volunteers to raise thousands of £££s every week of every year in the service of others.
Remit of shops
Although they may seem very remote from the poverty stricken villages of India, Sierra Leone or Eastern Europe, our shops are a vital part of the work. Each of our shops meets four separate and very important needs:
- Raise funds for our ministry. The money they raise is a significant part of the cost of running IAT, covering our administrative overheads, including staff, office and warehouse costs, so that all the money raised and the aid materials donated go directly to the people who need them. Every penny of every donation goes straight to the cause.
- Meet local needs with good quality goods at charity shop prices. (We have heard so many heart-warming stories from local people whose genuine needs have been met through our shops.)
- They are ‘Aid Collection Points’ (over half the aid sent overseas is donated through the shops.) And even clothing that is not suitable raises 50p a kilo from recycling.
- They provide a Christian presence in the high street – people who perhaps may find churches intimidating or “not for them”, experience genuine care and often ask for prayer.
So our charity shops are different. They represent the practical outreach of a living church, staffed and supported by both Christians and others who see in our shops “something different”. They help us to reach out into not just the local community, where they provide a listening ear and a comforting word, but also to the hurting wider world.
Maybe there’s a store near you that you could drop into…