A social enterprise READING, which celebrates its 30 years of activity, helps the inhabitants to negotiate the crisis of the cost of living.
Christian Community Action (CCA) has four charity shops across the city, including on Northumberland Avenue, Whitley.
Outlets sell quality clothing, books, and bric-a-brac at a fraction of their retail price.
A support center at the Oxford Road branch helps people in need, asylum seekers and refugees to obtain essential household items, including furniture and kitchen utensils.
Whitley branch manager Jo Kelly said: “The cost of living crisis is going to hit everyone. We have a few weeks where it’s really busy and then a few weeks where it’s really falling apart, so I think when people get paid, they get what they can.
“I make sure there are plenty of blankets to buy and warmer tops. If you go to a real store you are going to pay £35 for a coat, whereas here it is £5. I even put a few on the pound rail.
All items are donated directly to the store, whose motto is “renew, rejoice and recycle”.
January will mark 12 years in the work of Mrs. Kelly, who takes pride in the quality of the items on sale.
She explained, “At the end of the day, it’s a charity shop. I believe in old-fashioned charity shops. It’s for people in the community who don’t have a lot of money, who want something decent.
“Just because it’s a charity shop and people have low incomes doesn’t mean they want to wear rags.”
According to Ms Kelly, the prices in some charity shops, especially in the city centre, are too high.
As a not-for-profit organization, CCA reinvests all of its income back into the communities it serves, with a focus on funding the Oxford Road Support Centre.
The project helps those in need of essentials, providing kitchen starter kits, bedding, tables, chairs and mattresses.
Although it helps those in need, the store itself is not immune to the cost of living crisis.
Overhead costs include maintenance of the vans that transport the items, fuel and salaries of paid staff.
Ms Kelly fears that rising energy prices will have a negative effect on the organisation’s ability to deliver support to those who need it most.
As winter approaches, she worries that energy bills will put pressure on the store to break even.
Ms Kelly said: ‘I suspect it will get worse as winter arrives as we will have to turn the heating on.
“We were told at the managers meeting that everything was fine until energy prices go up, since they hit we just hung on.”
Located in the heart of Whitley and Whitley Wood, the store is a focal point for the community, with customers regularly coming in to chat with members of staff and often bumping into other shoppers they know.
Ms Kelly explained: ‘You have clients who come almost every day. There’s a lady whose house must be absolutely full of stuff from here.
“You get new faces, especially when you get mothers whose children have just started school and they wouldn’t have come before.
“Because I’ve been here for so many years, the children of mothers who came here when I started, they’re now teenagers, so they come. I’ve noticed that, which is really nice to see. “
The Whitley branch manager encouraged members of the community to come to the store and take a look, also calling on those who wish to contribute by volunteering.
Hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, closing 15 minutes earlier Tuesday and Friday.
Closing time on Saturday is 4 p.m.