A group of volunteers who have worked at a beloved Stanmore charity shop for more than 10 years were allegedly given only five weeks’ notice that the site was set to close.
The Norwood shop on The Broadway, which raises funds for the leading charity supporting people with learning disabilities and special educational needs, is a popular spot for the local community.
The volunteers allege that not only were they given short notice about the closure, but also state that they were treated “disgracefully” by Norwood head office.
One volunteer, who has worked at the shop for 10-and-a-half years, said: “We weren’t consulted at all about the closure. The space was more than just a charity shop; it was like a community centre. People suffering from loneliness would come in for a bit of informal counselling and a chat.
“What head office don’t know is that the shop was the face of Norwood for a huge number of local people – and the reason they don’t know that is because despite head office being located on the same road in Stanmore, the current administration never came in even once to see the shop or meet the volunteers.
“There was no acknowledgement of the years of voluntary service we’d given. There was nothing respectful about it at all. Why wait until December 2023 to tell us that Norwood wouldn’t be renewing the lease, and we had to be out only five weeks later? It was appalling.”
With the Norwood charity shop at 14 The Broadway closed, the volunteers estimate that there are now eight vacant shopfronts on Stanmore High Street.
A spokesperson for Norwood said: “Norwood took the difficult decision not to renew the trading leases on our charity shops in Southgate and Stanmore.
“Norwood’s charity shops have a rich heritage, with our Southgate branch being amongst the first to open in 1998. Over the past 25 years, our shops have served as a community hub, run by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.
“These individuals have been instrumental in creating the warm, inviting atmosphere our customers have come to expect from our shops and, in doing so, provided a significant source of support for our vital services and helped raise awareness of Norwood’s work. As we close our final shops, we extend our gratitude to our wonderful volunteers for their commitment, hard work and loyalty over the years.”