A Plymouth charity has embarked on an ambitious expansion programme to support its work for families battling with childhood cancer.
Hugs Childrens Cancer Charity – originally Hugs for Henry – has just opened a megastore at Sugar Mill Business Park in Plymstock and is also moving its shop in the Broadway to larger premises.
The charity has emerged out of lockdown in a strong position – despite having to restrict its fundraising and other activities to comply with COVID restrictions.
During the pandemic the charity worked with local food business DB Fitness and Nutrition to support dozens of families who were self-isolating by delivering pre-cooked meals. Free accommodation was also provided for families at ‘Henry’s Hideout’ – the charity’s respite cottage in Cornwall.
Now with the worst of the pandemic behind them, the charity is fully-focussed on generating increased income from its retail activities.
The opening of a 2,000 sq ft shop and donation station at Sugar Mill Business Park is enabling Hugs to take in as much as 1.5 tonnes of donations every day – six days a week.
The Sugar Mill premises will stock mainly furniture, toys, bric-a-brac and other items – everything except clothing, which is sold through its other shop in the Broadway.
The next stage of the charity’s development is the move from its existing location to the former Barclays Bank premises in Plymstock Broadway. It will provide bigger, brighter premises for the extensive range of good quality clothing and other items on sale.
The charity’s retail development manager, Ryan Jackson, said:
“We knew that expansion was the only reliable way for us to ensure the charity’s survival.
“The donation station was opened to help with stock for the shop we have on The Broadway and also to generate revenue for the continuation of support for the families needing it at such a difficult time.
“The generosity and support Hugs we have received from the local community and donors far and wide has been absolutely incredible.
“We have had so much support from our customers that we have exceeded our opening targets and more which is all down to the generosity of Plymouth’s charity shop customers visiting more than once a day in some cases, shopping and offering more and more support.
“It’s been refreshing to be able to do something that is received so positively that we are now really excited to move our main shop in Plymstock Broadway into the new location at the old Barclays Bank, to show off all the lovely donations we receive.
“We were also mindful that we wanted to ensure that the expansion was considerate with the ethos of a charity shop which means recycling and repurposing items as much as we possibly can.”
He paid tribute to the charity’s staff and team of volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
“We have a great bunch of volunteers and couldn’t achieve all our goals without them,” he said.
Longer term plans include the opening of further retail outlets in the Tavistock area and also in Cornwall near the respite cottage.