Since December 2021, the date on which the second lockdown ended, the world of charity has been feeling the aftershocks of the pandemic.

A study by the Charity Commission, published in October 2018, revealed that even the largest charities (charities with an income of £500,000 or greater) would make ‘use of furlough, or other emergency funding schemes.’ It would also reveal that 90% of charities experienced ‘some negative impact from Covid-19’, concluding with a message to leaders that they must ‘ensure’ they are ‘led away’ by their charity’s purpose. 

This research is consistent with what I discovered. The manager of a local charity shop in Shrewsbury revealed to me that Covid did have a significant, and negative impact, on the state of the industry, with effects that continue to linger. It was revealed to me that charity shops were often forced to ‘quarantine the stock’ in the interest of protecting their customers. This led to a situation in which the changing room had to be used to store stock, and as donations continued to be delivered the shop was ‘inundated’. This was described to me as being ‘good’ in a general sense, but demonstrates how business had stalled. This was echoed by other charity shop networks. In 2020 Oxfam GB reported operational losses of £13.1m across the year, after being forced to temporarily close many of their 600 UK stores. 

I also discovered that charity shops still seem to be suffering from longer term effects of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to volunteers. The same local charity shop manager would state that volunteers, particularly those with underlying health conditions, felt ‘nervous’ returning after covid and some vulnerable people who left during the pandemic 'have never come back.’ In the case of this charity shop it has incited ‘periods’ of low supply in volunteers, forcing them to consider other options to fill such roles. These options have come in the form of school pupils in need of work experience. This is a sentiment echoed by the British Heart Foundation, who reported a 44% rise in volunteers aged 16-24 between September 2021 and February 2022.

However, it was also revealed to me that donations have reverted to a ‘similar pattern’ to as they were prior to the pandemic and that business seems to be stable, showing encouraging signs for the future.