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Celebrating the success of re-styling our charity retail approach

Discarded toy dinosaur limbs, brass instruments and scrap fabric might sound like the forgotten contents of a typical loft, but for our concept charity shop, Re-styled by St Oswald’s Hospice, one man's rubbish really is another man's treasure as it celebrates its first year of literally ‘making’ a difference to local people's lives.

Since opening last September, the Newcastle-based boutique – one of our 28 shops across the region, has used various items kindly donated by our supporters to create and sell one-off upcycled furniture, gifts and homewares. All profits from the shop contribute towards the £7.5m we need to raise each year, to continue delivering specialist care to thousands of North East families.

During the past 12 months, 50 toy dinosaurs and farm animals have been sliced and diced to form parts of children’s furniture, around 100m2 of fabric has been used for reupholstering projects and an unwanted trumpet has even been repurposed into a stylish lamp.

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Over 150 litres of paint – equivalent to 1,500m2 and enough to cover our entire Outpatients Suite and Family Support Centre combined, has been used by the shop’s team of expert upcyclers and volunteers to give a new lease of life to hundreds of projects in all shapes and sizes.

Everything from dining tables, chairs and wardrobes to coat hangers, cushions and frames have been transformed into stylish, shabby chic homewares, and snapped up by local shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind interiors.

The team’s upcycling talents have even reached international audiences, after shop manager Sophie Adamson was invited to make her TV debut on shopping channel, HOCHANDA in June this year, followed by regular appearances. 

Sophie said:

Re-styled has enjoyed a fantastic first year of taking inspiration from donations and turning pre-loved into re-loved. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the public – most customers don’t even realise it’s a charity shop but when we tell them, they’re delighted that their purchases are supporting a local cause.

As well as its unique product collections, Re-styled offers interactive workshops at the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre store as another way of creatively fundraising for St Oswald’s.

Devised and delivered by Sophie and assistant manager Sarah Finnemore, the workshops invite upcycling enthusiasts to discover new crafts such as rag wreath making, embellishment and decoupage, and find out how easy it is to transform furniture at upholstery and painting sessions.

Sophie added:

Our workshops are designed to bring people together in a relaxed and fun environment, aimed at all ages and abilities. One lady who is about to turn 90 came to a class to reignite her passion for painting and has since turned her hand to all kinds of projects at home, which is exactly what we hoped to achieve. Anyone can try it. We have several more workshops running until the end of the year, including festive-themed sessions where people can learn to make their own Christmas decorations – an area that is becoming increasingly popular as people look to add a personal touch to their homes.  We’re also preparing launch our workshop programme for the year ahead and can’t wait to share our skills with even more #northeastupcyclers as we grow our community.

And the store’s effect on local communities doesn’t stop there. Over 30 people have given their time to volunteer to help run the shop and go behind-the-scenes to complete upcycling projects.

Sophie said:

We simply couldn’t have achieved what we have over the past year without the support of our fantastic volunteers. Our volunteers come to us for many reasons, from looking to give something back to a local cause to learning new skills, meeting new people and establishing new friendships - there’s something for everyone.

Following its first successful year, Re-styled has ambitious plans, including supporting our ongoing commitment to the recycling and reuse of donated goods. In 2016-17, we saved 188,874kg of furniture from landfill with help from the shop’s upcycling items.

Head of retail, Andrew Moir said:

St Oswald’s takes a fresh approach to charity retailing with several specialist shops already established across the North East, from our Whitley Bay bridal shop to our big brand boutique in Jesmond, £1 clearance store in North Shields, and more. While Re-styled was a completely new model in our portfolio, the values remain the same; underpinning our commitment to reuse and recycling, bringing people together to enjoy quality time and ultimately supporting the Hospice. We’re now looking forward to the future for Re-styled, which will include extending our reach via online selling channels such as Etsy and working more closely with our communities.

Visit Re-styled by St Oswald’s Hospice at Unit 19 Eldon Garden Shopping Centre, Newcastle, NE1 7RA, open Monday to Saturday 9am – 4.30pm and keep up to date on Facebook and Instagram by searching ‘Restyled St Oswald’s’.