Seaforth community shop achieves national recognition for helping sustain the local community

21 July 2010

A shop in Seaforth that doesn’t charge for its products, but instead serves as a hub for the community has been awarded a £2,000 prize and second place at this year’s Community Project Awards.

Seaforth Community Shop was named as a finalist after being selected from 82 projects nominated from across the UK that demonstrate how churches engage with social initiatives within the community.

Shop owner Lynne Higgins was presented with the award by national church and home insurer Congregational & General, at the annual United Reformed Church General Assembly.

Lynne said: “We are delighted to receive this prize, which will go towards making our shop building more accessible. This will include changing facilities for our disabled customers and volunteers.”

The shop provides a base for recycling clothing, furniture and books as well as being a meeting point for those who simply want to chat. It operates on a unique basis in that no charge is made for items that people want, donations are always gratefully received. The users range from young to old from within and outside the Seaforth area. Shop owner Lynne Higgins wanted to rekindle Seaforths’ community spirit, by providing a hub for those in need and a place for people to connect with others in the local area.

Social networking has played an important part in the project establishing itself. The shop has a website and uses facebook to put messages out for help, not just for volunteers but to inform about job vacancies in the locality. When newcomers move into the area donations are also sought to help them set up home.

Lynne also acts as a schools coordinator encouraging young people to undertake work placement at the shop.

Lynne said: “Our work with the local schools came about due to the difficulty that many young people find obtaining work experience in retail. We try to help as many people as possible and often have customers stopping by to ask advice or just for a chat.”

Congregational & General Insurance Marketing Manager, Margaret Slater, said: “We place a strong focus on supporting community initiatives such as the Seaforth Community Shop that really make a difference and unite people. I feel the success lies in the fact that this shop isn’t just about giving to those in material need; it is about giving to anyone who needs support in the community. No-one is ever made to feel that they are asking for charity.”

Val Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC), and one of the judges added: “The standard of entries at this year’s Community Awards was very high, and each of the prize winning organisations have made a real impact in their local area – showing God at work in small details and large visionary projects. We are absolutely delighted that so many impressive, life-giving projects have grown out of local URC congregations and we’re proud to provide Seaforth Community Shop with their well-deserved cash prize and hope that this funding boost will enable them to continue their important community work.”