On Monday 12th April, we challenged our Community Fundraising Manager, Sarah to put together an outfit by purchasing one item of clothing at each of the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Community Shops.

‘Challenge accepted!’ she said. So, how did she do?


‘I started with a pre-conceived idea of what kind of outfit I was aiming for. Maybe something funky for a festival (I’m heading to Rewind in the summer and figured that could be a fun brief), or maybe something more smart-casual for a day in the office. For those of you who are regular charity shop browsers this probably sounds a bit naïve as you have no idea what stock is going to be held at the shops you’re planning to visit. That’s the joy of charity shopping though; you just don’t know what treasures you’re going to uncover.

‘My first stop was Heathfield; a little gem on the high street that has some truly fantastic pieces. I spotted the most gorgeous jade Phase Eight dress that screamed “buy me” and a beautiful floaty rose number from Monsoon that would have graced any wedding group photo. Neither were my size unfortunately, but an absolute steal for some lucky buyer.

‘I started here with some simple pieces, thinking that might make a good base for an outfit, and purchased a mustard cardigan and a pair of navy Banana Republic trousers. Yes, I know, I blew the ‘one item’ rule in my first shop, but, in my defence, they were basically brand new and a bargain at £4 each. 

The cardigan and trousers Sarah brought (left) and the dresses she loved (right)

‘Next I was off to Uckfield. It was already busy here, which was good to see after all these months in lockdown. It was here that I went off-challenge again! I had a classic charity shop moment where I spotted it – the “I must have that” lightbulb moment – an orange and black piece of loveliness that was a Masai silk dress, hanging quietly on a rail. It was £30 and for such a quality piece that was essentially brand new, I was very happy to pay that price. That went in the bag with slightly manic alacrity, and I was off to Seaford for my next stop.

‘If you want something akin to a personal shopping experience then Carla, our Seaford Community Shop Manager, is your girl. She helped to put pieces together and searched for accessories, and when she couldn’t find something on the shop floor, she was out the back searching through her stock to find another little gem. I could have stayed all day, but I settled on some fabulous Next black jeans and a black M&S cardigan. Again, a total bargain at £6.

St Wilfrid's Community Shop in Seaford

‘A little tip for you here: if you have something specific in mind then just ask the shop staff. They are all so passionate and knowledgeable about their stock and might just be able to search out exactly what you’re looking for (even if you didn’t know you were looking for it!). 

‘Now it was Hailsham’s turn. My outfit was taking shape now, so I had to focus on the final touches. Maybe some shoes, some jewellery or a handbag, all of which are in abundance in our shops. It is worth a visit to our Hailsham Community Shop; it’s been repainted and restyled and, like all our shops now, feels more boutique than charity shop.

St Wilfrid's Community Shop in Hailsham

‘One of our lovely shop volunteers went above and beyond to search out the most fun pair of shoes I think I have ever bought. I was slightly dubious about these orange stripey flat mules on first glance, but they made me smile, were so comfortable and added a touch of zing to the outfit. I’m a chunky boot kind of girl so it was a bit out of my comfort zone, but they were in the bag and I was off to Eastbourne.

‘As expected, our Community Shop in Terminus Road was very busy and there was even a bit of a queue to get in. All our shops are operating with social distancing measures, so I had no problem waiting; better safe than sorry!

St Wilfrid's Community Shop in Terminus Road, Eastbourne

‘I was on the lookout for a bag. I could have bought half the shop and dithered between three or four. For a bag hoarder like me, it’s something akin to torture to have to decide between handbags, but I settled on a neat little black one priced at just £1!

‘We do have another shop in Eastbourne, in Green Street, and I apologise that I left them off my shopping list on this occasion. Clothes are not their specialty, focusing on furniture and other practical items. Maybe next time I’ll take on a challenge to furnish something… watch out, Green Street, I’ll be coming your way!

‘My final stop was the Superstore in Moy Avenue. What they’ve done with the place is nothing short of shopping heaven. Furniture, bric-a-brac, clothing, books, you name it, they have probably got it. There’s an extraordinary vintage section and you could happily while away a few hours exploring the various nooks. Tearing myself away from the bookshelves (another weakness of mine), I headed for the jewellery for the finishing touches. With enough options to put Accessorize to shame, I found some chunky black pieces to add to the look. 

Womens' accessories in the Superstore

‘Done! The total price of my outfit was £43 – plus the extra £8 for the cardigan and trousers I bought in Heathfield, which are great staples for my wardrobe even if they didn’t make the final outfit. Bearing in mind that the outfit’s original cost would have been around £220, I think that constitutes a bargain.

 

‘Charity shopping is not only great fun, but it’s sustainable and good for our planet, too. You’re also doing something amazing for charity – the £43 I spent could pay for a couple of hours of vital telephone support from our 24/7 Nurse Line. Who knew that my handbag buying obsession might just be making a positive difference!

‘Mission accomplished!’


To find your nearest Community Shops and for our opening times, visit stwhospice.org/shops