Cirencester Sue Ryder marketplace has sustainability at its heart
SUE Ryder Market Place is no stranger to recognition and this year the Cirencester charity shop picked up the Sustainable Business of the Year award at the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Business awards. Charlotte Shepherd met retail manager Mark Wilson.
WHEN looking for a winner of the Sustainable Business of the Year award at this year’s Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, judges were looking for a business that put sustainability at its heart.
Charity shop Sue Ryder Market Place was declared an “outstanding” winner by judges, who said: “The Sue Ryder shop has clearly identified ways to improve its impact on the environment as well as creating many and varied links with the local community.”
In 2011 the shop scooped the Team of the Year award at the chamber’s business awards and this year it was the shop’s contribution to the environment and community of Cirencester that was honoured.
Retail manager Mark Wilson, who joined the Cirencester Market Place shop in January and works alongside assistant manager Carol Shirley and 14 volunteers, was thrilled with the award.
“I only joined in January so this award was recognition for Carol’s hard work and the hard work of all our volunteers,” he said. “We also have some fantastic donors and regular and loyal customers.”
The Sue Ryder charity, which celebrates 60 years this year, raises funds for people with life changing illnesses such as cancer and long-term conditions including MS and Parkinson’s. Sue Ryder Market Place predominantly raises funds for the charity’s hospice near Cheltenham, Leckhampton Court.
Sustainability is not just a fashionable buzzword for this charity. It is absolutely crucial to enable the business to maximise the profits that it makes, which go to supporting the hospice at Leckhampton.
“Our business needs to be sustainable so that we can support Leckhampton hospice,” Mark explained. “Our philosophy is that we try to make money out of everything that comes through the door either by selling it or recycling.”
Every week an average of 120 bags of donations come through the door at Sue Ryder Market Place and staff and volunteers are focussed on the fact that every single donation has the potential for resale or recycling. “If a garment or toy can be repaired by stitching and mending then we will do that,” said Mark. “But if it is not reasonable to sell in the shop then we will recycle it for a profit. We throw very little away.”
As well as its impact on the environment, and its approach to recycling and waste, the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce was impressed with the community links forged by Sue Ryder Market Place.
“We need to make a valuable contribution to Cirencester as a market town. We believe that giving people the opportunity to donate goods leads to the purchase of replacements in other local shops,” said Mark.
Additionally, the shop views itself as a stepping stone into local employment, and is able to provide onsite vocational training supported by Derby College. After a period of work experience at the shop, two of the volunteers recently secured first jobs in Cirencester. “We are very proud of that. It is another contribution we can make to Cirencester,” said Mark.
The shop is also proud of its fundraising achievements outside of the shop, raising over £500 just a few weeks ago for the hospice at a quiz night in South Cerney.
Now with two awards to its name, is it possible for Sue Ryder Market Place to rest on its laurels? “We can always do things better,” said Mark. “We need to constantly look at the goods that we sell. It is important to find out from our customers what they want and to pass this on to our donors. We also need to keep ahead of the fashion trends.
“We will always need to be sustainable because there will always be a need for the service that Leckhampton hospice provides.”