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Shoppers flood in as Emmaus social enterprise opens in Chrisp St Market

PUBLISHED: 19:57 01 October 2014 | UPDATED: 19:57 01 October 2014

Volunteer ready to serve first customer

Volunteer ready to serve first customer

Emmaus

A new social enterprise launched in London’s deprived East End has been swamped with shoppers queuing to get through the doors.

Recycling old furniture at the social enterprise shopRecycling old furniture at the social enterprise shop

The Emmaus shop in Poplar’s Chrisp Street Market made £500 in its first two hours of trading at the weekend.

Goods ranging from books and recycled furniture to new end-of-range and second-hand donated clothing were snapped up.

“There’s nothing like this shop in the area,” said volunteer Ian Darby, who also works for Poplar Harca social landlords nearby. “It was an amazing buzz outside, like people queuing for Harrod’s or something.”

An apprenticeship scheme at the shop offers retail and customer service experience, while a workshop teaches beginners how to recycle donated furniture and clothing.

Sorting clothes at Emmaus social enterpriseSorting clothes at Emmaus social enterprise

Project director Mark O’Brien said: “Sometimes the furniture we get donated is a little battered or has seen better days.

“We intend holding regular workshops and involve anyone who would like to learn new skills and exercise their creativity.”

A basement area also offers other charities and groups the chance to hold workshops.

The shop already has a team of volunteers, like Zubeda Yeasmin, 24, long-time unemployed who was referred to Emmaus by her local Jobcentre.

She said: “I never considered retail before because I’m not sure about the world of commerce.

“But this feels different. I have ideas to develop areas of the shop, like adding a maternity clothes section.”

Mother-of-two and college student Esther Aggrekum, 28, finds time to volunteer despite her busy life.

She revealed: “I’m a health and social care student and love working here, helping my community and people who have been homeless.”

June Walker, 50, has just come through a battle with breast cancer, and cares for her elderly father.

She said: “I’ve done every job under the sun in my time, from dinner lady to check-out girl. It’s a real pleasure to give something back to the community.”

The shop at 175 East India Dock Road is just the first in a series of social enterprises planned across East London by Emmaus. It is now appealing for online donations on the Emmaus website or the Just Giving website.

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