Childhelp Hassocks Turns 20

Childhelp Hassocks Turns 20

by Hanna Lindon

Much loved local institution Childhelp Hassocks celebrates its 20th birthday this month. We turn the spotlight on the charity shop’s history and work.

Two decades ago, a small group of friends decided to establish a charity shop in Hassocks with the aim of supporting needy children in the area. They began by raiding their own attics and garages, stocking the shop with anything they could find. Today, Childhelp is brimming with donations and can proudly claim to have raised more than £400,000 for good causes over its twenty-year history.

“People really like the fact that we’re unique,” explains Christine Wooldridge, the charity’s secretary and one of its founding members. “We are independent and we work as a cooperative – everyone is a volunteer. “The only extra costs we have are the shop overheads such as insurance, electricity, tags and pricing, and everything else goes towards helping children.”

Of the £40,000 that Childhelp raises every year, the committee is able to donate around £33,000 to good causes. The committee members meet monthly to consider the applications they receive for help, which could include anything from child counselling to white goods for family homes. The charity also makes regular contributions to local groups such as the Hassocks-based Children’s Country Holidays Fund (CCHF), Windmills Opportunity Playgroup in Burgess Hill and domestic violence charity RISE. Every month, the details of what organisations Childhelp has funded and how much they have donated are published in the shop window.

“We help families who fall through the net of other charities,” explains Christine. “We give money for guide camps, school trips, school uniform, white goods and bedding. Many children in our area don’t even have proper beds to sleep on.”

Childhelp Hassocks has become something of a local institution. People travel from the surrounding villages and even as far afield as Brighton to visit. The shop stocks an excellent range of children’s clothes, toys and accessories, as well as electrical items, adults’ clothing and books. For many, it’s an opportunity to socialise – the welcoming atmosphere and friendly volunteers have helped to make the shop a much-loved local asset. With Andrew and Ruth’s grandchildren now helping in the shop, the younger generation is now equally involved in the shop’s maintenance.

So what can you do to help? Consider becoming a member of the charity, shopping in the Hassocks store, volunteering in the shop or organising a fundraising event. Donations of clothes, toys, records and electrical items are also welcome.

“We have so many wonderful things donated to the shop,” says Ruth, one of the founder members. “As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we want to tell people how grateful we are for all their help and support.”

Come and visit us at 49 Keymer Road, Hassocks BN6 8AG, or call on 01273 846570.