The charity shop . . . Crafty Allsorts

The Crafty Allsorts shop on the original site of Allendale Co-operative Society, still bearing the logo ‘Labor and Wait’ [the motto is Americanised in honour of the trade union movement there]

I’ll be honest, I had to think a bit when I saw someone on Allendale area notices asking about the opening hours of the charity shop. I’d never thought of Crafty Allsorts as a charity shop. But it is, of course, though not as we know it, quite.

Crafty Allsorts provides a useful space for disabled folks to interact with the community, selling, making, creating, serving . . . . you never would think, as I’ve found, how disconcerting disability can be in terms of helping out: helping out can create a strong sense of belonging, of wellbeing, that you just don’t get from being helped, as it were. Giving really is more valuable than receiving, in that profoundly human sense.

So some of the more able residents of Thornley Leazes spend much of their day (often from 11am until 3pm) serving at Crafty Allsorts, which is now a cornucopia of treasures that is amazing to behold. I was chatting with Linda Charlton about the shop: Thornley Leazes moved into it at the time the Forge Studios were becoming occupied, though the residential centre took on a unit in the Studios for a while as the old Co-op shop was vacated. So that puts it well over a decade in situ, I should think. I must have thought, maybe because of its name, that the shop’s emphasis was on ‘crafts’ and workshops, which it does do, Linda reminds me, but it really is a particularly friendly charity shop, right here in Allendale. Revenue is ploughed back into the Thornley Leazes premises for the benefit of residents.

I did, correctly, put my finger spot on the pulse of a challenge that faces the friendly shop, and that is the need to maintain regular hours so that folks will be able to count on it being open. Thornley Leazes staff try their best to open Crafty Allsorts every day, but sometimes the responsibility of care mitigates against their capacity to open the shop. What the folks at Thornley Leazes, who bring and supervise perhaps four of their good-natured residents along to serve in the shop . . . what the care staff really need is a small corps of dependable, responsible community volunteers who can help with the basics of shop-keeping, like opening up and closing, keeping the place tidy, sorting and organising, that kind of thing, thereby maintaining the shop as a real functioning premises.

To volunteer, the best thing to do is to give Linda a call at 683769, or drop into the shop and assess the lay of the land. When the shop is overwhelmed with good quality clothes and jumble, for example, Thornley Leazes puts on a giant jumble sale in the village hall, creating more opportunity for recycling of useful things in the community. But in the meantime there’s call for good tidying and organising, of course, just for proper display purposes. At Crafty Allsorts, virtually anything can be found, at one time or another, but if the customer can’t see it, you can’t sell it, can you? So volunteers are really, really and truly, eagerly needed to keep this service thriving.

I promised Linda I’d use a quote to wrap up this entry, and that is “How proud the residents are, when they come back home after working in the shop, to talk about what they’ve sold, how they interacted with someone, what it means to them to serve.” With that kind of ethos, of working towards the best humanity can do, you can be sure that volunteering in the shop would be such a blessing both to the residents, and to the volunteers themselves.

1 Comment

  1. Lovely piece, Larry – really sums up what is so nice about this charity shop. It’s so clear how the Thornley Leases residents love being shopkeepers, and talking about the things they sell. Everyone should try and pop in every so often, even if you don’t actually “need” anything. You’re bound to find something you didn’t know you needed, and it’s just a really good experience. Great atmosphere! 🙂

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