East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices store in Stowmarket to close after 11 years
A charity shop which has been based in the centre of Stowmarket for the last 11 years is to close permanently.
The East Anglia's Children's Hospice (EACH) shop in Ipswich Street will not reopen on April 12, when non-essential retail is permitted to do so under current Government guidelines.
The store had a steadily declining income over the last few years and was 'barely breaking even before the pandemic'.
Ian Nicolson, acting EACH director of income generation, said: “Despite great support the shop has received over the years, unfortunately, more recent trading levels, including before the pandemic, mean it’s no longer commercially viable for us.
“The small shop format and the difficult access for donations has made trading particularly challenging, and it has gone through a long period of slow decline that, sadly, we’ve been unable to turnaround.
“Having taken this difficult decision, we’re now going through consultation with our staff and volunteers to whom we are most thankful for the dedication and commitment they’ve given us.
“Our many other shops remain a very successful and vital income stream for us.
"In fact, they’ve been more important than ever when they’ve been able to open over the last year as they’ve provided a form of stable income we simply haven’t had from traditional fundraising events.
Despite the closure of the Stowmarket branch, EACH are set to open a new shop in Royston, Hertfordshire, and would 'definitely consider returning to Stowmarket' as well, Mr Nicolson said.
However, the charity is still losing significant amounts of money and last month forecast an operational deficit of £2 million over the coming year, even with their 43 stores across the region.
In response, EACH announced it would not renew the leases on its head office in Milton or office in Ipswich, with staff based there to continue an effective mix of working from home and within hospice buildings.
The charity said this would help ensure it could focus 'every penny it can on care delivery', during a time when its support has never been more needed as families who have been shielding become exhausted from providing care alone.'
EACH also said its forecast showed why children’s hospices needed service delivery underpinned by proper statutory funding.
Around 16 per cent of its annual income comes from statutory sources, relying on over £6 million coming in from fundraising and £5 million in income from retail.
To find out what you can do to help the charity, visit: www.each.org.uk.