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Anywhere you go around London, from the glitziest neighbourhood to the more subtle and modest neighbourhood, you will see the humble British charity shop. They have been on our streets for years and make up a staple part of any town. Some people may moan about that there is nothing but charity shops on the UK’s highstreets but, they serve some of the greatest purposes in the country. They also help more than just the charity on the sign above the door.
Read on to discover the beauty of charity shops and the best ones in London and what they can offer.
Why use charity shops?
We should start off with the reasons for using them in the first place. There are lots of good reasons to shop in charity shops apart from the obvious of supporting the good causes that charities work towards.
But I’ll mention it anyway. When you buy or donate to charity shops you are helping to support the charity you are buying from. You could be helping a children’s charity, an animal charity, a homeless charity or an environmental charity by simply buying yourself a new jacket or a new pair of shoes. Without realising it, the smallest contribution from buying from a charity shop can help a charity endlessly towards the great work they do for communities around the UK.
Another reason to buy from charity shops; in the UK we waste millions of pounds worth of clothing and textiles each year!
When you donate your unwanted clothes or buy from charity shops, you are helping to reduce the amount of clothes and textiles that end up in landfills when they could have been easily reused, repurposed or recycled. Whether you want to donate your unused clothes or want to buy yourself a new wardrobe, you are helping the environment by buying from a charity shop.
They are cheap. A lot of charity shops in London are goldmines for cheap designer gear that is either only been worn a handful of times or has obtained a vintage feel for itself. You can find great stuff by Levi’s, Nike, Adidas and even higher end brands like Gucci and Burberry!
You will pay less than half the price for your new designer wardrobe than in other shops and there is a potential in the right shop to find a one-of-a-kind bargain that is sure to impress anyone.
You may find something that sparks your creative side. Whilst rummaging through the bargains of a charity shop, you may just find something that you love but is in need of a little TLC and customisation. Break out the sewing kit, the scissors and the patches. You can turn a normal looking denim jacket into a customised Punk looking garb. You can turn some jeans into some new shorts or totally redesign a bog-standard pair of white trainers into your own unique look.
What charities have charity shops in London?
With around 9000 charity shops in London alone, there are plenty to choose from. There are the big names of the charity world who have set up shop in the capital like the British Heart Foundation, Traid and Cancer Research, but there are also the smaller charities there as well such as Little Lives UK, a children’s charity.
What charity shop in London should I use?
Now this choice is down to you. You should look at where the shops are based, what cause you want to support, the kind of clothes you are looking to buy and your budget. A lot of charity shops have got varying budgets and varying types of stock depending on what has been donated to them or the local demographic.
But that is part of the fun, hunting for your new favourite shop that suits your needs and helps who you want to help.
What is the best charity shop in London?
Again, this is quite a subjective question, it depends on what you consider “good” and what you are looking for in a charity shop.
We have listed our top 5 charity shops in London that can offer you great bargains on some great gear.
All Dogs Matter
A charity that it does exactly what it says on the tin, looking after abandoned dogs and rehoming them. They have a charity shop in Muswell Hill in North London where they take in donations of clothes, toys and collectibles. All of the proceeds go towards supporting dogs around the UK find new forever homes. Run by a great team and with nice variety of clothes and homeware to browse through, you will be making a real difference by donating to them.
With plenty of shops in and around London, Fara, is happy to receive your clothing and household donations in any of their shops. As there are so many of them, it may be worth phoning ahead to see what shop needs a donation though.
All of the proceeds from the clothes you donate will be given to children in Romania who are orphaned or are living in the care system. Fara means ‘without’ in Romanian, this charity has been going for a number of years now and are doing some incredible work to improve the lives of children without family in Romania.
Little Lives UK
A children’s charity that has three charity clothes shops in London, one in Raynes Park, one in Tooting and one in Fulham.
Little Lives UK support children who are living with disabilities and living in challenging circumstances through the campaigns they run. They even offer a free charity clothes collection in London, making your life a lot easier! Simply, get in contact with them and arrange a free collection from your home.
All the shops are run by very friendly staff and volunteers who are welcoming and can give a good insight to what the charity does. And, all proceeds from the clothes go directly back into the charity to support the community through the campaigns they run.
This small charity has a shop in Acton. CAPE are a mental health charity that help individuals with finding the right mental health services when they have concerns of their own. They also help with signposting individuals. They work well with partners across the city to ensure that as many people with mental health problems as possible are supported.
Drop off your clothes collection today, help keep the shop well stocked and support a small charity with a big aim.
The Royal Trinity Hospice
With a shop in Balham, South London, The Royal Trinity Hospice will accept donations of clothes, homeware and accessories. The proceeds from the shops are used to help with their aims of providing end of life care for those living in Wandsworth and parts of Lambeth, Merton, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Richmond.
Whilst you’re dropping off your donations, have a browse at the range of things you can buy there for a good price.
All of the above have great stock, a huge variety of clothes, accessories, shoes and homeware and very friendly teams that are always willing to help.
So, you may think that is all, but fortunately that is where you are wrong. A charity shop can also offer so much more to the community.
What else can charity shops offer?
So, we now know about the great offers and the work that charity shops do but we can now concentrate on what else they offer the community.
Volunteering Opportunities. Almost all charity shops are predominantly made up of volunteers who help run the shop, sort through donations, help customers and support the charity. Not only does the charity benefit when you volunteer with them, but it also offers you a chance to build on your CV, helps you gain experience in the charity and retail sector and give yourself a sense of good for helping someone in need.
A lot of charities and their shops also offer people who have come out of prison or are in need of support who need a chance to rebuild their lives and learn new skills which can then be used in further employment.
Social Community Hub. Charity shops become part of the community’s family and become a place for everyone to meet, speak and have fun together. Either by just popping in to say hi to your favourite team member or going shopping with your friends, they act as a great place to go.
Charity shops also run fundraising mornings that can get the whole community involved. Bake sales, coffee mornings and raffles are firm favourite at a lot of London charity shops. You can find out from your local shop any upcoming fundraising events that may be happening in store or around your area.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Volunteering in a charity can help you work towards your D of E Award. Charities will be more than happy for the extra helping hand and you get to use the hours you have clocked up in the charity shop towards your award.
So, there are plenty of other ways that your local charity shops can support you and your community, but did you know there are ways you can also help a charity and support their work without buying from the shops?
How can I help charities and charity shops?
Along with volunteering, you can help charities and by donating your unwanted clothes, electronics, homeware, toys and accessories. Shops are always looking for new stock to sell on and let’s face it, most of us have way too much stuff crammed in our houses, flats, garages, sheds and lofts.
Next time you clear out the mountain of clothes from your wardrobe or the stuck drawer in your bedroom which has been jammed up from top that was worn that one time for a night out, don’t be part of the throw-away culture club, donate it to charity.
You can drop these clothes off at your chosen charity shop or some charities offer a free collection service in London.
The free collections are simple; fill out the online form, wait for a friendly member of the charity’s team to contact you about a collection date and await your collection. You don’t even have to be in, you will miss out on meeting a friendly collection driver, but you can simply leave your donations outside to be collected.
It is so simple to make such a big difference with such a small gesture.
As you can see, the charity shop is truly part of British life, our high-street and our community. The offer so much to us all and to those in society who need support the most. You can be part of a fantastic group of people who are invertedly helping millions of people around the UK by doing the bare minimum.
Simply support your local charity shops and help to change people’s lives with them and the charity they are supporting.