A CHARITY has hit back at claims the growing number of charity shops in the centre of Midhurst could harm the economy of the town.
Chairman of the town council’s planning committee Gordon McAra expressed concern that there were now six charity shops which he claimed was not appropriate for a town trying to encourage individual shops.
He said the latest to open in the former Chichester District Council (CDC) offices was ‘dowdy’ and in a prominent place.
But the charity 4SIGHT West Sussex Association for the Blind has hit back saying it is not a charity shop but a resource centre.
“It serves as a base for a small donated goods section and a resource area displaying and selling independent living equipment for people with sight loss and, we are the base for our paid staff as well as our local volunteers, many of them experiencing sight loss themselves,” said charity development officer Bev Tinson.
“We are not in competition with any other retailer in the town and I’m not aware of anyone else who sells independent living equipment in Midhurst for visually impaired people.
“Examples of equipment we provide are talking and tactile watches and clocks, large print stationery, kitchen safety equipment and daylight lighting.
“Our local members, their families and carers of people with sight loss can now come into our centre and see this equipment, try it before they buy and then purchase it direct from us rather than having to order it as they had to in the past.”
She said the shop was not ‘dowdy’ but ‘clean, tidy, well presented and has a nice atmosphere’.
Unlike big ‘faceless’ charities she said 4Sight did not have huge reserves to fall back on.
“Every penny raised, donated goods and services are reinvested into the support we offer to our members.”
She added: “Our new Midhurst project has received funding and support from both CDC and West Sussex County Council of which Mr McAra sits on as an elected member.”
She understood Mr McAra’s concerns but continued: “In defence of the charity, I would like to say 4SIGHT should not be seen as a threat.
“We want to work with and contribute towards the offering in the town. We are here to support the needs of visually impaired people and offer a service not available locally.”
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