Charity shop with a difference opens on Honiton high street

PUBLISHED: 13:43 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 10 December 2018

The team at COFI with Honiton mayor Henry Brown. Picture: Callum Lawton

The team at COFI with Honiton mayor Henry Brown. Picture: Callum Lawton

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A new charity shop which is run by people with learning disabilities has been opened in Honiton by the town’s mayor.

Lesley Barker and Kara Marshall, of My Support and Care Services. Picture: Callum LawtonLesley Barker and Kara Marshall, of My Support and Care Services. Picture: Callum Lawton

Councillor Henry Brown officially opened COFI, in High Street, which sells a variety of furniture, jewellery and ornaments.

The team managing the shop are users of Honiton-based organisation My Support and Care Services, which earlier this year entered into a share-buy with Independence Enabling.

Lesley Barker, director of My Support and Care Services, said the shop would help the users develop the necessary skills to get on the right path to securing paid employment.

She added: “The guys will be learning practical skills, such as upcycling and making jewellery, which can then be sold in the shop. They will be working on their customer service and keeping accounts.

The team at COFI with Honiton mayor Henry Brown. Picture: Callum LawtonThe team at COFI with Honiton mayor Henry Brown. Picture: Callum Lawton

“Part of this also sees them working on their interview skills and writing CVs.

“The whole objective of this venture is what we are working towards people that use the serving being able to find paid employment.”

As part of the venture, users who sell their items in the shop take home 50 per cent of the profit.

Lesley said: “It’s important that they feel their work is valued and have an incentive to carry on improving their skills.

“The standard of work has to be high because its goods that they are selling, and they need to develop skills in order to sell.

“The guys are very enthusiastic and we really hope that the community will support us.”

The shop space is also being utilised to accommodate artist’s work, who are being invited to display and sell at the outlet.

Lesley has also extended her thanks to Honiton’s Hospiscare warehouse shop in Dowell Street, which has provided users with furniture to upcycle.

Cllr Brown, who has a history of working with people with learning disabilities, heaped praise on the new venture.

He said: “It’s a really fantastic initiative that My Support and Care Services are doing here.

“This is providing a sense of agency to the users, which allows them to show their creative flair.

“Having worked with many of the service users, they seem absolutely delighted to be a part of this and are really looking forward to making this venture a big success.”

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