Over 100 people gathered on Northgate st for the opening of the Share Shop, a new concept of charity/coffee shop . Town Crier David Mitchell was present to announce the opening and the idea behind it:
The SHARE (supporting homeless and refugees everywhere) concept was co founded by Adam Dandy, Monica Hogg and Louise Edwards and was initially a response to the Syrian refugee crisis of Autumn 2015. The shop will be open 7 days a week from 10 til 4 and as also offers customers the option of buying a “suspended coffee” or clothing voucher which can later be redeemed by a homeless person. Profits from the shop will be split 50/50 between refugee charities and homeless support, with the plan being to purchase a derelict house which will then be converted into accommodation to get people off the streets. The Town crier commented that he thought it was a ” great concept and I can see it really taking off, Chester being one of the first places in the world! What an imaginative response to the need. ”
Cutting the ribbon was MP Chris Matheson, although he was nearly upstaged by popular local , Pauline from The Lovelies. “Next time you want a coffee, you can either go to Starbucks who don’t pay their taxes, or come here and make the world a better place!” Chris proclaimed to a round of applause.
The shop was packed soon after the official opening with several queueing to get inside, with the opening being heavily promoted and supported across social media in the last two weeks. Adam Dandy told me that a lot of hard work had gone into setting up the shop, but praised the support they had received: “It feels like we’ve just been pushing on open doors! So many people and businesses love the idea. We just need to prove that the concept works then find a way to roll it out across the country to every town and city with a homeless problem and a desire to help those in need abroad.”
“We’ve had an amazing amount of support from the team at Ginger across the road turning up to feed all of our volunteers this week” said Adam as well as revealing that SHARE would be receiving a donation in the region of £5000 towards the first Share house for the homeless. “Simply amazing!” he said ” I am so proud to live in such a generous city”. SHARE will be working with Chester Aid to the Homeless (CATH) to run the proposed houses for the homeless but Adam is keen to talk to any other homeless agencies and work together in the provision of care.
Amidst the carnival atmosphere of the shop opening, complete with swing dancing in front of the shop and the huge amount of donations and time donated by volunteers, there has been a small number of social media critics. They have argued that we should only support”our own people” in the UK. The ever positive Adam replied that , “charity begins at home but it doesn’t have to end there. There’s so much love, generosity and kindness in Chester that we have been able to offer aid locally, nationally to those affected by the floods and internationally to the refugee crises and in a weeks time we will be sending a 40ft container to Syria itself.”
Anyone interested in helping out with SHARE can volunteer at the shop for an hour a fortnight, or one day a week. The aid warehouse in Flint is also looking for volunteers and SHARE can also help to fund volunteers to travel abroad and help distribute the aid. Donations at the shop of clothes, shoes, bags, books and gifts are all welcome. Judging from the opening day crowds SHARE will be a big success and is a further example of the success of activism and community involvement in the city. Full credit to the organisers and the volunteers!
You can follow SHARE on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ShareShopChester/?ref=ts&fref=ts