Charity does not begin at home in South Tyneside – with fundraising shops in the borough’s main retail area facing tough times.
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ outlet in King Street, South Shields, closed its doors at the weekend.
A spokesman for the charity said it had a temporary lease and had decided not to renew after it ran out.
Apart from removing a source of much-needed income for the charity, the move also leaves yet another vacant premises in the town centre.
It is just the latest retailer to call it a day in the once-thriving street – and others admit they are struggling.
Despite some claims that King Street is “full of charity shops” there are now only two fundraising premises there – Marie Curie Cancer Care and the British Heart Foundation.
However, both outlets say they are facing challenges amid falling footfall and the “M&S factor”.
The iconic retailer’s exit from the town earlier this year is having a negative ripple effect on fellow retailers.
Lisa Burles, manager of the BHS shop, said:
“The closure of Marks & Spencer hit us really badly and the footfall in King Street has fallen significantly.
“We have really struggled since March when the shop had a refit. We had a better month last month because of the weather, but we have dipped again.
“You just have to look at the till transactions to see the reduction in customer numbers. Having said that, we’ve been here 20 years and we’re not intending to go anywhere soon.”
A PDSA spokesperson said:
“Our South Shields shop on King Street was run on a temporary lease. We always review all our shops when their leases come up for renewal. We often have to make difficult decisions to ensure the kind donations we receive are used most effectively and, regrettably on this occasion, we had to close our South Shields shop.
“We are extremely grateful for the dedication of all our staff and volunteers, and for the loyalty of our customers in South Shields. We would also like to reassure pet owners in the area that PDSA’s veterinary services are unaffected by this decision.”
A spokeswoman for Marie Curie Cancer Care shop, beside the street’s Metro station, said: “We’re getting by, but it’s a tough climate out there.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 18 Sept 2014
FEARS are growing over a rise in beggars who are “blighting” South Shields town centre.
Police, traders and charity workers have all expressed concern over an increase in the number operating in South Shields Town Centre.
Where once it was rare to see homeless people in street doorways it is now commonplace, with up to six individuals in the centre at any one time.
Gazette research has located several locations in and around King Street where beggars have been operating.
These have included outside of McDonald’s restaurant, the PDSA charity shop in the Market Place, the doorway of a vacant premises beside the British Heart Foundation, Lloyds Bank, at the Games Workshop in the Denmark Centre and at Morrisons in Ocean Road.
Today, the public were advised to give food and clothing to beggars but not money, as many are believed to be using cash handed over to buy drugs and alcohol.
Gill Peterson, assistant manager at Age UK in the Denmark Centre, regularly has beggars operating on either side of her shop.
Mrs Peterson says she has reached the “end of her tether” at their activities, claiming they scare off customers, hurl abuse and rifle through bins at the back of the premises.
She added: “I’m sick of them. They scare customers off, particularly our elderly ones and we are losing trade as a result.
“Any money they get just goes on buying bottles of cider. Every morning, I have to get in early to sort out the bins they have emptied through the night.
“If I approach them, I just get a mouthful of abuse. They are blighting the town.”
Amelia Luffrum, project director with Hospitality and Hope, the borough-based food bank and soup kitchen, said the public should only offer beggars food.
She said: “Homelessness is definitely rising from our experience.
“Some of the people who are out in these doorways, asking for money, come to our soup kitchens. They are in genuine need.
“Dependency on drink and drugs is a major issue. Our policy is never to give money. We feed them, give them sleeping bags and clothes, and direct them to different agencies.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton, of the Riverside Police Team, acknowledged there was a problem and said the situation was being monitored.
He added: “We are aware of the issue and are actively working with our partners on how the situation can be addressed, as concerns have been raised around criminality and vulnerability.”
Latest statistics show a 54 per cent rise in people seeking homelessness assistance from the local authority last year, from 187 to 534.
The impact of welfare reforms, including the ‘bedroom tax’, and a struggling economy, are among the reasons for the increase.
Source – Shields Gazette, 20 Jan 2014