A NEWTOWN charity shop which is also a foodbank and where everyone’s guaranteed a warm welcome, has just celebrated its tenth anniversary.
The Salvation Army’s shop at 7-8 Market Street has been serving the community of Newtown and the surrounding area since it opened in 2008. It sells a range of goods – including DVDs and CDs; books; toys and puzzles; ornaments and bric-a-brac; women’s, men’s and children’s clothes and shoes, and it also has a prayer space. Territorial Envoy Samantha Jones has been heading up The Salvation Army’s work in Newtown for 16 years and was part of the team that organised the shop’s opening.
“Everyone’s welcome at the shop. There’s a warm welcome to be had here. We opened it as a way of connecting the public with the church and that’s why we have a prayer area in the shop, so that people can come here to pray at the same time that they’re shopping - a lot of people do that,” said Samantha.
“Since we opened 10 years ago, the biggest change I’ve seen in this community has been the increase in food poverty in Newtown and the surrounding area. We’ve got a growing number of people who are looking to our foodbank – which is based at the shop - and our free Sunday breakfast, and I anticipate that the demand for these services will grow in the future. “In the last decade, the thing that’s made the biggest impact on me at the shop is the transformation I’ve seen in people’s lives because of the support they’ve had from The Salvation Army. We’ve had unemployed volunteers coming here to get their confidence back and who have then gone on into paid employment. I’ve also noted an improvement in people’s mental and physical health after they’ve spent time here with us.”
The shop staff and volunteers invited members of the public into the Market Street shop to celebrate the 10th anniversary with a slice of cake on Wednesday 10 October.
County Councillor Joy Jones, who is also Powys County Council’s anti-poverty champion, was at the anniversary celebration event. “I’m from Newtown and am the ward councillor for Newtown East. I’ve also served as the Mayor of Newtown and been a county councillor for six years, so I know the town well,” said Joy. “Newtown was a fast-growing, flourishing town; there was the promise of jobs and goods wages. But a lot of the big employers have now left the area.
“In the past 10 years, The Salvation Army’s shop has been here to help people who have been struggling on low incomes – often due to zero-hour contracts and unemployment. The Salvation Army has made a massive difference to Newtown because you’ve got people here who listen when you’re lonely and despairing, and they can point you in the right direction when you need help and signpost you to the support agencies who can help you. Newtown would be a poorer place without The Salvation Army.”
Alma and her husband are regular visitors to Newtown Salvation Army and called into the shop for the celebration. “We’ve been coming here every fortnight for the last year or so. We’re both pensioners so we’re looking for bargains and there are plenty to be had here. It’s always nicely laid out and you can find everything you need and you get good makes. There’s always a bargain to be had and you know the money is going to a good cause. The staff here are fantastic and the friendship we get here is incredible,” said Alma.
Newtown’s Salvation Army shop is located at 7-8 Market Street and is open between 9.00am and 4.30pm from Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 4.00pm on Saturday. The shop currently needs donations of men’s and children’s clothing. The Salvation Army in Newtown meets for Sunday worship at 10.30am at the Trehafren Community Centre on Lôn Derw in Newtown.