Derry’s Thrift charity shop helps people with disabilities thrive

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A Derry charity shop helps people with disabilities thrive.

The Thrift Charity store opened in Derry’s Northside Shopping Center in the fall of 2020 as part of the ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ project.

Along with Tea in the Park in the Playtrail, Thrift Charity Shop was established to help people with intellectual disabilities have a professional life by improving their social skills and providing them with training and work experience in retail and business. hotel.

The project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund which has secured the site for these young people for four years.

Sharon Tosh, project coordinator, told MyDerry: “One important thing we found with those we work with is that they felt like they were missing important social aspects of life. They lacked a sense of belonging because they did not fit in.



Staff members of the charity thrift store on opening day

She said: “They go to a special school and when they are finished they come to services like us. Our young people said that although our services were excellent, they did not feel fully integrated into society, in terms of not having a job and they felt they had been abandoned.

Thrift staff undergo comprehensive retail training before starting their work. They are involved in all aspects of service, from sorting inventory to pricing, labeling and customer service.



Thrift Charity Shop, Northside Shopping Center, Derry

Sharon said: “It has been really fantastic for their confidence and skills. They work in the foreground, they do merchandising, and they help customers, which has been an amazing thing. They are excited to discuss with each other the date of their next shift.

She said: “Some of them were a little nervous talking to people. It was an important thing, and I can say with pleasure that they all thrive there. “



Thrift staff members Mark Baldrick (left) and Owen Kelly (right)

Mark Baldrick and Owen Kelly are two of Thrift’s staff. Working in the shop, Mark said: “It has been great, I meet a lot of new people every day, especially since working at the cash desks. “

He said: “It gave me a lot more confidence. I really want to keep working and doing it in the future.

While working on DVDs in the reserve, Owen said, “It’s an experience I’ve never had before, but it’s been great trying something new.

He said: “I work in the storage room and in the workshop. At first I was nervous about working on the crates, but now I have improved.



Thrift staff member Owen evaluating the stock

Sharon hopes that projects such as the Ready, Steady, Go project will give adults with learning disabilities essential skills and work experience that will allow them to continue working outdoors and to feel fully integrated into society. at large.

She said: “I can’t even express how much these young people love the opportunity the project has given them. They feel so grown and accepted that it has caused them to take giant leaps in their sanity and sense of belonging.



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She added: “Listening to a parent walk into the store and see their child with learning disabilities behind a cash register and serve him, they say to me, ‘I never thought I would see the day when they could work in a social situation ‘. It’s moving, it’s such a special project.



Sharon Tosh, Project Coordinator, with Thrift staff members

Sharon had a thank you message for those who supported Thrift and Tea in The Park. She said: “The community has supported us 100% from the start. From donating to sharing our posts on Facebook and telling their friends and family, I don’t know how we could thank them.

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