Eurotrip: Charity Shops in Britain

It’s rather obvious that charities are big in the UK. Even the French housemate of the couchsurfer I stayed with at London said that compared to France, the British give more generously to charity.

There are lots of posters everywhere asking people to give to various charities, but the most overwhelming of all is the presence of charity shops. There are tons of them around, by charities like British Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, Children’s Society, Oxfam and etc. In the small town of Cheltenham alone I probably saw like 8-10 different ones.

These shops sell things donated by the public at a minimal cost, and stock a wide variety of things: books, china and glassware, paintings and prints, clothes, toys, furniture and lots of assorted knick-knacks.

Many of these things you probably don’t need, but its fun to just browse anyway. And occasionally you might discover a hidden gem or two – I found a grey Zara vest for just 7 pounds (roughly S$16), which looked like it had been worn just once or twice.

The books collection is sometimes good, and you can get second-hand novels starting from 50p. They are not dog-eared, yellow-paged and drooping off the spine, but usually in good condition, some even recent publications. Its also fascinating to browse the donated artworks.

I guess the biggest appeal of these charity shops comes from the fact that as you spend, you are actually giving to a good cause, as well as the entire surprise factor of not knowing what you’ll find in each shop you visit.