Harrogate Fair Trade Shop's Christmas set to go online in new charity venture

A unique partnership between two Harrogate charities is providing the solution to a month whose challenges have felt like the biggest of this Covid year so far.

By Graham Chalmers
Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 9:55 am

On any normal year students from Henshaws would now be hard at work in the Harrogate Fair Trade Shop as part of their work experience programme offering enormous help in the hectic Christmas season, as well as learning new skills.

But, recently they haven’t been able to come to the shop located St Peter's Church Porch on Cambridge Street because of coronavirus.

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New online venture - Harrogate Fair Trade Shop 's Victoria Wild.

With the festive season usually the busiest time of the year for Harrogate Fair Trade Shop - and crucial its financial well being, a solution had to be born - and it has been.

Today will see the shop go online for the first time selling all its fair trade gifts from home and abroad in time for Christmas.

And taking responsibility for Harrogate Fair Trade Shop's online selling platform will be students from Henshaws, the charity supporting people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to go beyond expectations across the North of England.

Harrogate Fair Trade Shop 's Victoria Wild said:

"The pandemic has brought challenges for us as it has for many other shops, but none so great as being closed in November.

"Every year at the end of October we open up a second room at the back of the shop in St Peter’s Baptistery which becomes our Christmas shop.

"More than doubling our space for the busiest two months helps us realise sales which make us profitable for the rest of the year and there is a real buzz about the place, especially on the big weekends like the Christmas market.

"Some people come in just because they love the products but others really like to know that their Christmas presents have helped someone else to have a better life.

"As we’re such a small shop we never really thought about online selling but we realised earlier this year that this would be the time to start, for those people who wanted to be able to shop from the safety of their homes and in the eventuality of a second lockdown at Christmas time.

"And that’s when we came up with the idea of a partnership with Henshaws Specialist College.

Victoria Wild continued:

"Students from Henshaws have worked in the shop for many years as part of their work experience programme but recently they haven’t been able to come to us or to any of their other placements because of Covid.

"We were looking at ways we could provide students with work experience on campus and we put forward the idea of a collaboration in which they would set up and take responsibility for our online selling platform.

"Students will gain hands on experience of all levels of online retail - from web skills and marketing to picking and packing a selected range of stock without ever having to leave campus.

Victoria Wild concluded:

"As Dan White, work experience coordinator puts it: “Overcoming barriers and creating opportunity is a daily occurrence at college.

"Innovation and adaptability is at the heart of what we do to build confidence, develop independence and support achievement of our students.

"We are most proud when we can use these skills to work closely and benefit the local community and joint work with Fair Trade Shop gives us opportunity to do just that.”

"Fair trade is all about helping the most disadvantaged people across the world, it is about putting people before profit and supporting those who need it the most, so this collaboration fits in perfectly with our goals.

"We’re excited to see where this new partnership will take us."

Dan White, work experience coordinator at Henshaws, said:

"At Henshaws Specialist College our mission is to support students to go beyond expectations.

"Both Employability and Supported Internship programmes offer a hands on approach to developing skills and abilities, accessing work experience and vocational learning.

"These vital components have a remarkable impact on students attainment and development.

"Throughout the academic year all students will access some form of work experience by working collaboratively with cafes, shops, gardens, museums and schools across the region.

Dan White concluded:

"The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an array of challenges for our programmes and the businesses we work with, however, our partnership with Harrogate Fair Trade Shop has presented an exciting opportunity for an alternative way of working.

"Our collaboration has resulted in the development of an E-commerce service for the shop, allowing members of the community to purchase from the safety of their homes and provide our students with hands on experience of managing, processing and preparing orders ready for delivery to the customers without leaving campus.

"Overcoming barriers and creating opportunity is a daily occurrence at college. Innovation and adaptability is at the heart of what we do to build confidence, develop independence and support achievement of our students.

"We are most proud when we can use these skills to work closely and benefit the local community and joint work with Fair Trade Shop gives us opportunity to do just that."

To shop for gifts online at Harrogate Fair Trade shop go to:

https://harrogatefairtradeshop.selz.com

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