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Charity shop wins national award

Derwen College charity shop, The Vintage Advantage, is celebrating winning a top national award at the Charity Retail Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the charity shop world.

The Vintage Advantage charity shop, based at Derwen College’s main campus in Gobowen, won the Innovation Award at an awards ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Birmingham. The college charity shop team were honoured to be shortlisted alongside high profile national charities such as Oxfam, Scope, British Heart Foundation, Shelter and Barnardos.

The shop is Derwen Charity’s first charity shop, and is part of the college’s "marketplace" which also welcomes visitors to a garden centre and gift shop, café, restaurant, and hotel. Students learn real work skills in a safe and supported environment, learning skills that have enabled many to progress to paid work, further training or meaningful voluntary work.

The charity shop was opened in 2021 during the Covid pandemic, with the main aim of providing work experience for retail students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

Since then, the shop has gone from strength to strength, smashing sales targets, being part of the community and providing valuable work placements for students and clients (the college’s long-term residents who have SEND).

Though the main aim was work opportunities, it was imperative that the shop was a viable business creating funds for the college charity. Students learn to sort, clean, price up and display fashion, accessories, books, bric-a-brac and homeware, and train to use tills and in customer service. Students love working in the Vintage Advantage and - with the help of high quality donations from the public - from day one, the shop has been a success.

The team regularly rotates stock, ensuring seasonal and themed window and in-store displays. From Christmas to Easter, Valentine’s or Mother’s Day, there is always a new reason to visit the charity shop.

Derwen College commercial supervisor Sharon Jones attended the ceremony with fundraising co-ordinator Anna Evans.

Sharon said, “To be announced the winner was a dream come true and a huge compliment for us to be recognised by the Charity Retail Association. 

“We are so proud of The Vintage Advantage; it’s a phenomenal place that always has a happy, welcoming atmosphere, fantastic stock and the best customer service provided by our hard-working students, volunteers and staff. Then, there’s the added bonus that it raises much needed funds for Derwen Charity - it’s a real success story.”