Online retailer raises £710k for North West homelessness organisations

Henry Birch, right, with TV star Stephen Mulhearn at Shop Direct's charity ball

Liverpool-based Shop Direct, which operates online retailers Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, has raised £710,000 for The Booth Centre, Manchester and The Whitechapel Centre, Liverpool.

The total smashed the £600,000 target that the company set for itself in 2017.

This is the largest donation ever received by the organisations, which provide support for people affected by homelessness, social exclusion and housing poverty in the North West.

During the two-year partnership, colleagues at Shop Direct organised a huge range of fundraising initiatives, including a charity ball featuring pop stars Jason Donovan, Blue and S Club.

Forty colleagues took the plunge with sponsored sky dives, while others completed an overnight ‘sleep out’ in the car park of the company’s headquarters in Speke, South Liverpool, and took part in everything from cake sales to 10k runs.

With practical support from Shop Direct’s tech experts, the charities have begun investing the funds in digital inclusion initiatives, including an online advice service for young homeless people, a youth awareness programme to reduce homelessness for future generations, improving Wi-Fi at their centres and creating IT suites used by people of all ages.

The new digital infrastructure has already enabled the charities to host 430 employment and skills training sessions, help 406 people into employment and 315 people to gain qualifications.

Shop Direct’s previous charity partners include Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, for which £210,000 was raised to support the creation and development of a world-first digital app.

A further £440,000 was raised to enable Wirral-based Claire House Children’s Hospice to get its new, digitally-equipped Liverpool hospice off the ground.

The retailer recently invited organisations that invest in children’s future development to submit their £600,000 digital ideas to become its next charity partner. The business will announce details of the new partnership in early 2020.

Henry Birch, group chief executive at Shop Direct, said: “We’re so proud of the time, energy and digital expertise our colleagues have dedicated to The Booth Centre and The Whitechapel Centre. It’s fantastic to see that the funds raised are already having such a positive impact.”

Amanda Croome, chief executive at The Booth Centre, said: “The support from Shop Direct colleagues over the past two years has been amazing. Not only have they worked so hard to raise such an astonishing amount to help transform people’s lives, but they have also gone above and beyond and shared their valuable skills and expertise, too. We are extremely grateful for their commitment, enthusiasm and support.”

David Carter, chief executive at The Whitechapel Centre, added: “We’re so grateful to everyone at Shop Direct for helping to transform our organisations and the lives of so many vulnerable people across the region. The charities will never be the same again and will benefit from this partnership long into the future. It has been wonderful to work with so many enthusiastic, committed people who have put in a fantastic effort to smash their fundraising target.”

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