Norwood makes it to the West End with charity shop in Selfridges

The children and families charity is one of four causes involved in a multifaith retail and art project, along with Islamic Relief, Spitalfields Crypt Trust and the London Buddhist Centre


Norwood will be retailing in Selfridges’ flagship West End store from today as part of the UK’s first multifaith charity shop.

Along with Islamic Relief, Spitalfields Crypt Trust and the London Buddhist Centre, the children and families charity was chosen for the venture by Artangel, an organisation producing work “that challenges perceptions, surprises, inspires and wouldn’t be possible within the confines of a gallery”.

It is being overseen by American film director, writer and artist Miranda July, who was in London this week to put the finishing touches to the shop on the store’s third floor.

“It’s a good space — and a typical charity-shop size,” said Norwood chief executive Elaine Kerr.

“Miranda sent us a style guide of what she wanted. It’s interesting. She wants books, but they have to have female authors. As part of Miranda’s  concept, there will be yellow Selfridges bags with the name of the project on them. She’s designing labels.

“Each charity will have on the cash desk a postcard about what it does. It’s very much an artistic concept but the Norwood name will be there.” Although it is being publicised through Artangel, it will also be promoted on Selfridges’ website.

The shop is being staffed by all four charities, which are contributing the same amount of stock. They will not have individual sections and proceeds will be split equally.

Norwood’s items are “reflective of what we normally sell”. Some service users will be involved, although not as formal staff members.

Ms Kerr’s one stipulation was “that our staff will not work Friday evenings and Saturdays. If the other charities had objected, it would have been a deal-breaker.”

The four participants have agreed to donate 2.5 per cent of their profit share to another cause. Norwood has selected Carers in Herts, “a good charity. We felt because it is a multifaith project, we should not be giving to a Jewish charity,” Ms Kerr said.

From the Norwood standpoint, beyond any financial gain, “it’s always good to get some national recognition. To be linked with Selfridges, an iconic store, is just amazing.

“Although we are a Jewish charity, we do occasionally provide services to non-Jews. We have some non-Jewish donors. We need to be in the wider world.”

Ms Kerr hoped there would not be a negative communal response to its involvement in an initiative including Islamic Relief.

“We had a look at their accounts to see the projects they are engaged in. They are so similar to Oxfam, Save The Children, World Jewish Relief. And we talked to all our trustees. I thought it was good work, whatever name there is at the top of it.

“I can’t predict how people are going to react but, actually, why would it feel right to join Spitalfields Crypt, the Buddhist Centre and not them?” She liked the fact that the participating charities were engaged in different work.

The shop will be open until October 22. “That’s when they roll out their Christmas stock,” Ms Kerr explained.

Michael Morris and James Lingwood, the Artangel co-directors, said: “Artists continually lead Artangel into uncharted territory so we are delighted to be collaborating with Miranda July in joining forces with four faith-based charities. Our shop within a shop, like London itself, is proudly open to the world.”

Norwood charity shops are a familiar fixture on north London high streets.

Profits from the eight outlets boost the Norwood coffers by around £250,000 annually, money which goes “straight into services”, Ms Kerr stressed.


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