Charity expansion goes ahead despite challenging times

Teesside Hospice recently made the decision to press ahead with its expansion plans despite uncertainty within the sector.

The move was made possible with the help of commercial property solicitor, Sophie Watson, from Jacksons Law Firm and saw the charity open its retail shop at Vale House in Thornaby Pavilion Shopping Centre.

It all plain sailing after original plans had to be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic – but the project was eventually resurrected and completed.

Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit in March 2020 the charity had to close all 11 of its charity shops and stop all community and events fundraising.

Facing a £200,000 shortfall in funding in the first three months alone, it was critical the shops reopened as soon as possible.

As with other charities, the hospice relies heavily on volunteer support and a large percentage of their volunteer workforce needed to shield or have felt too uncomfortable to return.

Despite this they were able to reopen all their shops within a two-week period and are getting by but desperately need more volunteers across all their locations.

Chris McMahon, head of retail at Teesside Hospice, said: “As a charity we successfully adapted to the changing regulations and installed social distancing equipment and PPE in all shops.

“We rely on public donations to stock our shelves and were overwhelmed with support when we reopened however the huge deluge of donations following lockdown presented health and safety challenges, which have now been overcome but because of the virus bags of clothing and other items, while much welcomed, have to be put aside in store rooms for 48 hours, then steamed and cleaned. Changing rooms also remain closed.

“Despite the challenges our stores are performing well and we have made the decision to press on with our expansion plan.”

Stockton-based Jacksons Law played a pivotel part in helping the Tees charity.

And Chris added: “Jacksons have been instrumental in enabling us to do this and we were delighted to sign the lease on Vale House at the end of September.

“Although the future remains uncertain, Teesside Hospice relies on the income generated in the shops to fund the vital care we deliver.

“As a team we are passionate about ensuring that local people affected by a terminal illness continue to get the care and support they deserve and need”.

Sophie Watson said: “I have been working with the team at the hospice over the last few months and have seen first-hand how hard the sector has been hit.

“The delay in opening the shop in Thornaby during the pandemic has only made the team more determined to make a success of the site and to raise much needed funds for the charity.

“They have had a lot to deal with over the last few months but there are plans to open new stores in the future and I look forward to assisting them with this.”

Teesside Hospice helps to change lives across Teesside by supporting people and families who have been affected by a terminal illness.

If you would like to find out more about how to become a volunteer or how you can support the charity, visit teessidehospice.org.