Robust safety measures are in place for staff and customers and shops are well organised with posters detailing the maximum number of customers permitted in a shop clearly displayed on the window, based on the size of the shop.
Staff and volunteers have undergone a range of training including ‘Infection Control’ and some shops have a host greeting customers at the door, while all shops have Vincent’s branded sneeze screens at the till point ensuring the safety of both the customer and the team member working the till.
Team members have also been issued with masks, gloves and disposable aprons and all customers are being asked to sanitise their hands using the free-standing sanitiser unit upon entry to the shop.
There is a one way system to allow for a smooth flow for the customers and the charity would like to remind people only to visit if they are feeling well and that they should adhere to good hygiene practices whilst in the shop.
Anne Crossan, Regional Retail Manager, SVP, said: “We are confident that the staff and volunteers are as prepared as they can be as we continue to reopen our stores across the region. Our shops are leaner and I know that customers will find the experience of visiting Vincent’s an even better one than before. I’m proud of the work that has been done to lift our extremely high standard of cleaning in our shops to another level in order to provide a safe environment for everyone.”
Regarding donations, the message from the charity is that anything of good quality which can be resold will be accepted but that while donations are gladly being received, all donations require 72 hours quarantine, so if you are planning to bring a large donation to your local shop the charity is asking that you be patient and that you might like to check first if the shop has capacity for receiving it due to limited storage space.
In line with normal policy, some items cannot be accepted including electrical goods, safety equipment eg helmets and car seats, broken or incomplete items and hazardous items such as paint and batteries etc. And if donors wish, they can deliver prebagged donations marked ‘recycling’.
Anne added: “I am so happy we are getting the shops open again. As retailers we're not used to downtime and we're happiest when on the shop floor helping our customers. Our staff and volunteers have found this lockdown particularly difficult and whilst we were helped with the opportunity to provide click and collect services in some shops until being able to physically reopen fully, click and collect served a purpose but didn’t provide the community with the hub for which our shops are renowned.
We are all so relieved that we can finally reopen our doors to welcome the local community back in. Understandably some of our teams were reticent about reopening our shops but they say they are in control of the situation not COVID-19 and are impressed and feel safe working under the new stringent practices.
We have a great team of both paid staff and volunteers in Vincent’s across the whole region and I would encourage anyone who is considering becoming a volunteer to contact us as we always welcome new faces to help. I know the customers will be delighted when we reopen as Vincent’s is such a part of each community. The shops and their teams have been missed!”
Customers are being asked to share their ‘best buys’ over the coming weeks by adding photos of their purchases on social media and using the hashtag #Vincentstreatsures.
There are 33 Vincent’s shops in Northern Ireland and a total of 227 in Republic of Ireland, making it the largest charity retailer on the island. The profits generated from the charity shops are recycled into local Conferences to support those in need.
To find your nearest Vincent’s and details of its reopening, please visit www.svpni.co.uk or telephone 028 9035 1561.