Teessiders urged to become part of historic charity

The world’s oldest and largest youth charity is urging Teessiders of all ages to “be part of history” and volunteer to work in its new Middlesbrough store.

The YMCA will open its second shop in the town later this month in the Dundas Shopping Centre, marking the return of retail to the Centre’s biggest shopping space six years after Boyes moved out.

It will sell furniture, white and electrical goods, high street and designer clothing, shoes, books, CDs, records, sports equipment and jewellery plus any other donated items.

A share of the profits from it and the existing store in Captain Cook Square will go to the Tees Valley YMCA to support the area’s young people. “Not only will we offer products at a price that local people need, we’re unique in how that money will be re-invested back into the local community, through the Tees Valley YMCA,” said Toria Salisbury-Scott, the charity’s Retail Services and Technology Manager.

The charity reached its 180th birthday last month and is present in 120 countries.  “We’re really interested in looking after all people in all communities,” she added. “Here, we’re the country’s biggest provider of nursery places, as well as helping people with accommodation.  We support the homeless, foodbanks, people’s health and well-being and provide vocational training.

Becoming a volunteer, said Toria, is “a chance to be part of history and give your time to improve your local community.”

The YMCA welcomes help from people of any age: from pensioners who will enjoy the companionship of colleagues and customers to young people hoping to kick-start their careers.

“We’re particularly interested in finding volunteers who want to use their social media skills for good.  It’s not just about being on the tills or sorting stock.  You can put your technological skills to good use, which looks fantastic on a CV for a young person,” said Toria.

As well as the volunteers, two additional members of staff are being employed to work across the two shops.   The charity is accepting donations of all items for both stores at the Captain Cook Square store which is open seven days a week. It even offers free collection for larger items such as white goods and furniture.

North East commercial property specialist Dodds Brown manages the Dundas Shopping Centre on behalf of its owner.  Its Senior Associate Richard Wilson welcomed the return of retail to the superstore-sized unit.

“It’s going to bring more shoppers into the centre and that’s obviously good news for the other shops in both the Centre and Dundas Indoor Market,” said Richard.

“Beyond that we are delighted to work with an organisation which is so focused on supporting its local community, and the YMCA is going to find people of a similar mind once it opens for business.”

Opposite the new store, for instance, is the Brickyard Bakery which arrived in the shopping centre seven months ago.  As well as selling great tasting affordable bread, the not-for-profit business is also offering life-changing opportunities for six interns more suited to hands-on work than study.

Both the YMCA and Brickyard Bakery are examples of an evolving retail picture, said Richard, where community-focused businesses are stepping into the gaps left by chain stores which have either contracted or disappeared.

“Next door to the YMCA is another great space that was occupied by Fulton Foods until the company stopped trading three years ago.  We would be very keen to hear from any retailer or business who would like to become part of the exciting trend we’re seeing at Dundas,” he added.