Jane Williams explains how the Community Chest is minimising waste in everything they do

Sturminster Newton-Volunteer Fridat at the Community Chest 3


So it seems that Charity shops are the new front line in the reusing, recycling and repurposing of your pre-loved items. Not content with simply selling as much of the donations that we receive the shop has taken upon itself the aim of minimising goods that we have to send to landfill.

Step One of course involves our donors. All of us are asked to carefully consider wether the items we are donating can be resold or are they really destined for the scrap heap? Remember, charities have to pay to throw things away too. Every item we or the Friends or Brainwave send to landfill  takes money away from our charitable cause.

Step two is to find ways to make sure items find a new home. In this article Jane Williams explores how this is being done at the COMMUNITY CHEST

First and foremost we run special events

The shop for Sturminster is always delighted to contribute to the fun in town and the vintage vehicle event on the first Saturday is a great opportunity to join in.  Cheryl and the team bring out vintage clothes and all sorts of retro items to display in the shop which opens all day on those Saturdays.  It is a lovely way to entice visitors to that end of the town especially when our neighbour shops extend their hours too. The word has spread and we see customers from near and far who are loving the quality of everything at the Community Chest.  The 7th September will be the last of the vintage days till next spring but watch this space for other events – Cheryl’s always planning something!  The shop will be open on the Cheese Festival weekend too so if you are visiting for that, take some time to pop into town; you’ll find a warm welcome.

We keenly look for every opportunity to trip the three R’s

Here at the shop, we are very keen recyclers, re-users and re-purposers. Although some donations are unsuitable for sale – our standards are high! – we hate throwing anything away. In line with increasing ecological awareness we have systems set up to keep disposal at a minimum.

We send good quality clothing that needs a button or a bit of mending to a wonderful local lady who is a wizard with a needle and she returns them to us all fresh and ready for the rails.

Last week I sent a parcel of bras to ‘Smalls for All’, (which bemused the Post Office staff!).

Other suitable clothing items are donated to two different charities for the homeless. The charities concern work with us to make sure their clients needs are properly respected and addressed.

Other completely unsuitable stuff is popped into the textile bank at William Barnes School (with their agreement). They sell this on which helps contribute to their coffers.

We save broken jewellery for one creative customer and damaged woollies for another; we collect buttons and zips off clothing past its best. Mechanical items like broken cameras and watches are sold to a company which mends the items.

Books that we can’t sell go to a company who distribute them around the world or if their condition demands it they recycle them as paper.

In all these ways we do our best to keep things flowing and throw away as little as possible.

If YOU have any other ideas or expertise in the matter of recycle, reuse repurpose, we would be happy to hear from you.  Find us in Market Cross, opposite the museum.

What are we doing with our profits?

We are regularly asked what we are doing with our profits. So this blog gives me a good opportunity to give some answers. The staff and shareholders of the charity recently decided on a couple of new initiatives bringing our current activities to six.

They are;

  1. To enhance the town retail and tourism offer we are looking at better signposting of information for visitors and residents.  We would be interested to know what you think is required and how you would like to access it.
  2. We are in discussion with the Council about the siting and signposting of a “Chatting Bench” paid for by the Community Chest to provide a place for those on their own to rest whilst at the same time signalling their willingness to engage in chat with other townspeople or visitors they may not know. The bench will be obvious as it will be signed “The ‘Happy to Chat’ Bench: Sit Here If You Don’t Mind Someone Stopping To Say Hello.”  Work done elsewhere has shown that this kind of facility helps to combat loneliness.
  3. We are working with another team led by Sophie Davies of Farnfields that provides the Town’s Xmas event, lights, evening show, santa and the grotto. We have asked if we can support their often precarious finances or even fund activities that enhance the great show they put on each year for us. I will report back  once we have agreed some concrete measures.
  4. Working with Colsten Care and more recently the adult social care team based at Bath Road we are supporting the Dementia Friendly Sturminster project. The main thrust of which is to  train people likely to come into contact with dementia patients (all of us?), giving them a better understanding  of the impact of the condition on the patient and some ideas and thoughts on how to help make their burden a little lighter. The shop staff have already undergone training in supporting people with dementia when they are shopping. Did you know that shopping was voted the second favourite activity by dementia patients surveyed by the Alzheimers society?
  5. As you all know the town’s retailers face an uphill struggle competing with the internet and their near neighbour’s wider deeper retail offer. We felt that making the centre more attractive  would give them a small helping hand. Working in conjunction with the new Chamber of Commerce (Sturbiz to you) we have stood behind the costs for putting in place flower boxes around the Town. i have been bowled over by the impact of this small project and the feedback we have received. I am really pleased that the flowers were sourced from Thorngrove Garden Centre in Gillingham, who are already gearing up to replace the summer plantings with a winter display (Sorry but time moves on….
  6. We were also proud to stand behind the new literary festival and cover their debts should there be any. There were!

But we don’t want to stop there.

There is a suggestion box in the Community Chest and we would love to have your ideas.


Jane Williams