Shoppers across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to visit their local Cancer Focus NI charity shop on Thursday, May 26, as 13 local organisations take part in a high-powered apprentice-style volunteering challenge organised by responsible business network Business in the Community NI, in partnership with Cancer Focus NI.
Teams taking part in the Off The Rails Charity Shops’ Challenge will be competing for the coveted Challenge Champion Award, and are required to take over the running of a Cancer Focus NI charity shop for the day, getting creative and competitive to raise the most money and raise the profile of the charity.
Other awards up for grabs include the Best Window Display, Best Shop Theme and the High 5 Award, which pits organisation directors against each other to buy the best shop bargain for £5.
Lauren Cunningham, Community Engagement Manager at Business in the Community, said: “Since 2010 our annual charity shop take-over days have raised more than £600,000 for charities by using the expertise, good will and business acumen of the organisations that are part of our responsible business network.
“We are delighted to be running this challenge again in partnership with Cancer Focus NI.
“The teams will need to use their entrepreneurial skills, business know-how and years of collective experience to encourage shoppers to buy, increase donations and generate sales at their particular shop.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response from businesses and organisations who really see the value in this employer supported volunteering challenge.
“It offers multiple benefits – enabling employees to take on and project manage the challenge, use their skills and wits to fundraise, get creative in managing and promoting ‘their’ shop, and raising awareness of Cancer Focus NI’s invaluable services throughout Northern Ireland.
“I’d encourage everyone to get down to their local Cancer Focus NI shop on 26 May to show their support and pick up a bargain.”
Organisations signed up to take part include: Allstate NI, Arup, Choice Housing, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Haldane Fisher, JP Corry, KPMG and Ulster Bank.
Rosie Forsythe, Corporate Fundraising Manager, Cancer Focus NI, said: “The Off The Rails Charity Shops’ Challenge provides a unique opportunity for Cancer Focus NI to raise awareness of the valuable work we do locally and raise much-needed cash.
“Covid-19 continues to impact on Cancer Focus NI with fundraising events being restricted in participant numbers, postponed and even cancelled. Covid-19 is also continuing to impact cancer patients with delays in diagnostic services and treatment.
“This heightens the anxiety, stress and loneliness that patients and their families might feel, and our services, with your support, can help.
“Every year we support 6,000 local people affected by cancer.
“The money raised through the Charity Shops’ Challenge will now, more than ever, help us to continue to support local people affected by cancer when they need it most.”
She added: “The challenge is a serious business test, with a little friendly competition between the organisations involved.
“We will announce the winners at a special celebration lunch in June, which is a great opportunity for us to recognise the efforts and activities of each of the teams and say thank you to all involved.
“Whether you’re part of a team participating in the challenge, supporting work colleagues who are taking part, live close to one of the shops or are simply on the look-out for a bargain, you can be part of this year’s Charity Shops’ Challenge and help to raise vital funds to support our vital life-line counselling care services, cancer prevention work and local cancer research.”
n The Cancer Focus NI shops involved in this year’s challenge are: Ballyhackamore, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Bangor, Coleraine, Londonderry, Holywood, Limavady, Lisburn, Lisburn Road, Newtownards, Newtownstewart and Ormeau Road.
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