Resurrection Furniture – A “Church in the High Street” 

Resurrection Furniture – A “Church in the High Street” 

Resurrection Furniture is a Christian charity shop “with a mission” in the centre of Alton. Since it was set up 6 years ago, it has raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

It’s run by the Parish of Resurrection which includes St Lawrence, All Saints, St Peter and Holy Rood churches. All goods are donated from the local area including sofas, wardrobes, chests of drawers but also bric-a-brac, books and jewellery. For many customers however, it’s more than just a shop.

Sue Hibbard is a member of St Lawrence Church and has been involved with the project since the beginning.  She said: “A lot of people just come to say hello because they are lonely.  It really is the church on the High Street.  We have one man who comes every morning and he has a chat with the volunteers.  It seems to be part of his daily routine.  A lot of people just want to have a voice and someone to listen to.  There is such a need for this.  It’s a fabulous idea and everyone wins.  The other obvious benefit is the money raised for so many organisations that are needy and want help.  We are helping the environment by recycling too.”   

The idea for the shop grew from monthly furniture sales which had been taking place outside the Parish Centre in Alton for 30 years, raising money for the upkeep of the church.  The furniture shop was opened in the town in 2017, but moved into new larger premises in 2022.  It has proved to be a success and is growing year on year. The shop has a part-time paid manager and a team of a round 50 volunteers, some from the church and some from the community.

Paul Adair has been a volunteer for a year and is now a trustee and secretary:  “My profession is in IT but I’m now semi-retired, so volunteering in the shop gives me a framework to the week.  I meet lots of people as well as customers and staff so it’s very rewarding.  In IT you often work on your own, solving problems so it’s good for me to interact with so many different people.  My wife died a couple of years ago and recently we made a significant donation to St Michaels Hospice, which is the organisation that cared for her, so it can be personally rewarding in that sense too.”

The shop has made donations to many local causes, including the Pink Place cancer support which offers counselling, information and well-being services.  The money will cover the cost of room hire for a year so the charity can provide complementary therapies.  In the last year it has also helped Christians Against Poverty to fund an administrator post; Dogs for Autism; Alton College, with support for the youth foodbank; Cardiac Rehab, for exercise sessions, and money for church improvements and towards a youth worker. 

The shop also helps those struggling in the community by giving discounts for people  on benefits.  It has worked with the council and other charities to provide furniture for people moving into emergency accommodation to help them get started. It also offers valuable work experience to students and those looking to find jobs.

Natasha Perrin, shop manager, said:  “Sometimes I think church can be seen as a bit old fashioned, but it’s not just the traditional place to go on a Sunday, the church does a lot in the community and helping and funding good causes.  Whilst this is a Christian charity, I think we are foremost helping the local community and helping the planet because people are giving us the furniture they no longer want rather than it going to landfill.  It’s very much donate, re-use and resurrect which is our tag line.”   

Volunteers come from all walks of life and there’s a van team who can collect or deliver furniture.  Another group also restore items that need work and all electrical goods are PAT tested. Natasha added:  “We have former librarians, headmasters, business owners, nurses and young people who volunteer.   Many volunteers are on their own but enjoy working here and being part of a family.”

Tim Codling is a volunteer driver and trustee: “I’ve got a Christian background and I like to make sure whatever I do, is to the best of my ability. It’s a charitable organisation and in Alton there are people in need, as we have seen with the foodbank and community cupboard, so we are helping the church and helping people in the community too. I think this is what being Christian is about, being there for others.   We have seen the business grow and that’s rewarding and it’s good to see the furniture you deliver being put straight into use.  A lot of elderly people we deliver to like to have a chat and a bit of banter too, and I like to think it makes their day!”

Sometimes the shop name opens up conversations and on occasions, people have come in to ask for prayer.  Recently the shop was visited by the Bishop of Winchester who praised volunteers for being a “group of wonderful people doing the simple yet profound job of loving God and their neighbours.”