Have you been to the SHARE Shop yet?
It’s in the old ice cream parlour on Northgate Street. A mixture of a charity shop selling second-hand books, knick-nacks and clothes (with a nice line in retro gear, if you like that kind of thing) and a coffee shop, it is a new concept in charity fundraising.
SHARE stands for “Supporting the Homeless and Assisting Refugees Everywhere.” Last September Louise Edwards and Monica Hogg from Deeside were watching the dreadful news of the migration from terror of the thousands of Syrian refugees, and decided they wanted to help, by getting food and clothing over to them.
At the same time, Adam Dandy (of Dandy’s Topsoil on Sealand Road) decided he also wanted to get stuff over to Syria and Greece. They all got together, and a few pallets and then a container were filled with gear and dispatched.
But these were people with big ambitions. They decided to open a charity shop. Amazingly at the end of February, it opened, showing brilliant drive and entrepreneurship.
Part of the profits from the shop will continue to support refugees, and part will go towards buying a house in Chester, doing it up and providing a refuge for local homeless people. Then the project will roll out to other towns.
If you buy a cup of tea of coffee, you can also buy a deferred drink for a homeless person, to be taken up later.
So whereas some of the larger coffee chains divert all their costs and profits via places like Luxembourg to avoid their fair contribution of tax, you know that when you buy a drink at the SHARE Shop, you are really making the world a better place.
But most important for me is the underlying principle.
A human being in need is a human being in need. It doesn’t matter where they are or who they are. Whether they are in Chester, or in one of the cities in Syria cursed by Assad, Putin and Daesh, so-called “Islamic State”.
During this Euro referendum we hear lots about immigrants, and clearly we have to manage migration carefully. But there are many voices around the Leave campaign who seek to divide, to make this about us-and-them, about pulling up the drawbridge. Not about the many benefits of looking outward and playing a leading role in the wider world.
SHARE Shop reminds us that underpinning everything is our common humanity. That global problems require global solutions. That there is more to unite us than divide us, and that by supporting those less fortunate than ourselves, we will always make our city, and our world, a better place.