Saturday 11 June was a date which I will cherish as two big events happened at Haven House. We had a spectacular Mad Hatters Tea Party for our families at the hospice, to coincide with HM The Queen’s 90th birthday celebration, and we also opened a new charity shop at 52 South Street in Romford which complements our three shops in Chingford, Epping and Leytonstone. I was fortunate to be able to visit Romford after the party and saw how our retail team had transformed what was previously an empty shell into a bustling, colourful space packed with high quality pre-loved items, including designer clothes, contemporary home furnishings and children’s toys for a wide range of different ages.

One of the most inspiring comments from customers experiencing the shop for the first time was how they didn’t feel it looked or felt like a ‘traditional’ charity shop - and that’s because it isn’t! Charity shops have historically had a reputation as places where you may not necessarily want to spend time browsing for bargains which is why we introduced a boutique format for our shops. We wanted to make sure they felt upmarket, special and modern. By paying attention to the decor and small things, such as making sure all clothing items have the same swing tickets, size cubes and hangers, and of course providing excellent customer service, this can all help to enhance a shopping experience and hopefully means our customers return time and again.

Romford is a continuation of our boutique approach

Our shop in Leytonstone, which opened last year, was the first to receive the boutique treatment and it was subsequently nominated for a Time Out Love London Award and even received praise from retail guru Mary Portas on Twitter. Romford is a continuation of our boutique approach and I’m delighted to announce that on Saturday 16 July, Sam Faiers from The Only Way Is Essex will visit our shop for an official opening ceremony. Shoppers will have the chance to meet Sam and receive fashion advice from the TV star who runs her own boutique with her sister, Billie.

We wanted to open a charity shop in Romford for many years and as someone who lives a short distance away in Hornchurch, I have long seen the commercial importance of having a retail presence in the town. Retail is a vital and growing area for charitable fundraising, but charity shops also serve an additional purpose as they will often be the first point of contact that communities have with a charity.

As customers visit our new shop we want to let them know about all of the different ways they can support our children and their families. We also need volunteers to help in the shop and appeal for residents who are interested to get in touch today.

To find out more about volunteering in our Romford charity shop on 52 South Street please contact Volunteer Development Manager Andrea Thorogood on 020 8505 9944 or email volunteering@havenhouse.org.uk.