St Albans charity shop calls for volunteers after blaze

The store reopened last week and the charity has lost about 50 volunteers following the blaze.

The store reopened last week and the charity has lost about 50 volunteers following the blaze. - Credit: Archant

A charity shop has reopened and is calling for volunteers after a blaze forced it to close for seven months.

The Oxfam shop, in Chequer Street, St Albans, opened its doors last week for the first time since the blaze at the beginning of the year.

Following the blaze, the top floor had to be “more or less” rebuilt and the walls had to be replaced. The charity now has enough donations to last them a month after losing about £15,000 worth of stock in the fire, including designer handbags.

Manager Chris Rhodes, commented: “The electrics on the first and second floor had to be completely redone because they were damaged and if they weren’t damaged by the fire then they were damaged by the water that came into the building to put the fire out.

“The ceiling had to be replaced, again because of the amount of water.

“Everything was affected by the smoke because a lot of plastic burnt in the fire like plastic bags and hangers and so everything was contaminated.”

Since the closure of the shop, the number of volunteers has fallen off and the charity can no longer trade on Sundays.

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Chris continued: “At the time the fire took place we had probably over 80 volunteers; I would say that we now have less than 30 and so we do desperately need volunteers.

“At the moment we haven’t got the capability to open on Sundays, in fact, we hardly have enough volunteers for Saturday.”

As well as volunteers, the charity is calling for donations, particularly accessories.

Chris said: “We do need quality donations of women’s footwear, bags, scarves and accessories if we are going to be as profitable as we were.

“We are looking for new volunteers and we welcome all age ranges; if there is any Duke of Edinburgh students that want to do their volunteering here then they are most welcome on Saturdays.”