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Purley's Oxfam shop weathering the financial storm

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OXFAM'S charity shop in Purley is bucking the downward national retail trend with thousands of pounds pouring in every week, thanks to the generosity of local people.

Last week, the charity giant's annual report announced a ten per cent drop in income from its shops around the UK, falling to £20.1million. Overall, the group was down £17.6million on the previous year.

However Oxfam, in Brighton Road is thriving, and has not seen too big a dent in its takings over the past few years.

Shop manager Maggie Gibson told the Advertiser: "We've been here 30 years now and some volunteers have worked for us that whole time.

"We make most of our money through books – we've got a really good selection and people come to us asking for specific things they want to read, just like a book shop. That's the kind of thing that sets us apart.

"We've had quite a good year but we're entirely dependent on donations from locals. We now pick stuff up from people's houses, which makes it much more convenient.

"At the moment we are collecting around £2,000 a week, which is really good. And even if not everything is sold, it can be taken by Oxfam to be used in other parts of the world."

Despite the shop's success in keeping the books balanced through the recession, Ms Gibson said they were not helped by Tesco and the number of estate agents and non-retail companies. "It's just a sad truth that people don't come to shop for things as much from Purley's streets," she added.

"We do have regulars, though, who tide us over, and we always try to find things for them if they come looking for specific items."

Currently, the money spent in Oxfam is going to countries such as Syria and Turkey, as well as nations in West Africa.

Ninety-one-year-old Carmen Graham is one of the shop's longest- serving volunteers. She said: "I've been here for over 30 years, ever since I retired.

"I wanted to work for a charity and love it here – it's so enjoyable and I love the people who come in.

"I am unhappy if I don't take more than £100 every morning. But I usually do."

Oxfam's chief executive, Mark Goldring, said the fall in income came at a time when problems in Syria, Yemen and West Africa had put an "unprecedented stretch on Oxfam".

The charity spent £290million, an increase on last year, with an extra £3.6million allocated to responding to humanitarian emergencies.

Purley's Oxfam shop weathering the financial storm


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