Donegal Town’s oldest charity shop is ready to re-open after undergoing major refurbishment.

The Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) thrift shop has been operating out of the building known as the Clubrooms at Water Street, Donegal Town for almost 30 years. It opened there in 1989 after humble beginnings in a room at the back of the old cinema (now Cruaghgorm House which includes the offices of the Donegal Post).

While the Clubrooms provided a spacious facility, there were problems with the building which became more and more apparent as time went by. And so the decision was taken to close its doors for a few months to give it the makeover it very much needed.

Frank O’Donnell from Donegal SVP told the Donegal Post: “The floor really needed to be changed and the ceiling was too high so a lot of heat was being lost. The windows needed to be dealt with too.”

His colleague Collette Shovlin agrees.

“It was a health and safety issue really,” she said. “With so many people coming in and out, we had to think of our customers and our volunteers.”

Architect firm Paul Doherty Associates came on board as did builder Liam Duffy.

Mrs Shovlin said: “We wanted to get up and running as quickly as possible but we still wanted to get the job done and that is exactly what they provided. Thank you to architects Paul Doherty and Aonghus Murphy and to Liam Duffy and all his staff.”

The SVP Thrift Shop is run by a team of 30 volunteers who come together on a Wednesday morning to sort out newly arrived donations and work out their rota. They then cover the opening days of Monday, Thursday and Friday between them. They each bring their own skills to the role and work together to make the shop the warm, friendly and well-run place that has become.”

Mrs Shovlin said: “The ladies have formed some great friendships through the shop. Sadly we have some who are no longer with us but we can sit down and have a cup of tea and remember them. It is nice to be able to do that.”

The shop also benefits from the help of Abbey Vocational School students.

“There are usually four Transition Year students who volunteer with us,” said Mrs Shovlin. “They are very good. It is nice them to meet them years later. They chat about the Monday evenings in the shop and we are always interested to hear how they are getting on in their careers.”

The shop also has a Community Employment Worker.

“At the moment that is Adrian Wilson and he is a great help, especially with lifting.” Said Mrs Shovlin. “We have been lucky over the years with the men we have had on the scheme.”

The benefits to the community of the SVP Thrift Shop are two-fold. Firstly, people can buy clothes and other items at a fraction of what they would cost new. Secondly, money raised allows the local SVP Conference to help those in need of financial support.

Mr O’Donnell said: “The shop and the Conference are separate but the shop in the lifeline of the Conference.”

He added that any help the SVP gives to people is done so in confidence.

A programme to help people with winter fuel costs will begin soon.

The shop stocks clothes, household items, books, small furniture and some toys. Donations are always welcome.Large items of furniture and electrical goods cannot be accepted. 

The shop re-opens at 10.00 am today (Thursday) and will be open every Monday from 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm and every Thursday and Friday from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming all our customers back,” said Mrs Shovlin.

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