18:00 29 April 2022
The Willow Foundation’s Welwyn Garden City store admitted it had been a ‘real struggle’ for donations amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.
The Wigmores South store launched an appeal for stock in early March, and donations are still dwindling despite staff’s best efforts.
“What we’ve noticed is a drop in donations over the last three months, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine,” Willow Regional Manager Cheryl Aldridge told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
“We have also noticed that the quality of the donations we have received has gone down. What people do is they feel they have to donate to the Ukrainian cause and local charities suffer.
“The cost of living crisis is also having a significant impact. We are a well supported charity locally, many people know Willow because of Bob Wilson and this store is very well supported, but we have noticed a dramatic difference over the past few years.
“When the lockdown ended we had a really amazing response and we had an amazing year in 2021, but it’s been a real struggle to get people to part ways with their stuff this year, which is totally understandable because people have a lot less disposable income.”
Cheryl hopes the store’s struggles will end soon with the help of a new program, while urging people to think of Willow and donate.
“We hope, however, that it will turn around,” she said.
“The Charity Retail Association has just launched a new campaign called More Than a Shop, and what we want to do is show people that we really are an essential service.
“If someone can’t afford a coat from John Lewis, for example, they can come to us and get a good deal.
“They’ll also reuse it and we put a lot of emphasis on recycling. We’ve always been a charity that has supported sustainable living.
“We just hope people will give us a second thought and donate.”
Founded by former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson and his wife, Megs, in 1999 in memory of their daughter Anna, who died of cancer aged just 31, Willow has been based in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield since her creation.