East Lothian homelessness retail shop celebrates 20 years

(from left) Retail manager Ann Hay with staff Liz Veitch and Susie Manson in the Gullane shop

The Bethany shop in Gullane, one of several retail shops run by homelessness charity Bethany Christian Trust, will celebrate 20 years on January 17.

But this is not just your average charity shop; it’s a community hub where people from around the area can come in and feel welcome.

Twenty years ago, the shop opened under much speculation as to whether it would survive its first six months. Several years later, retail manager Ann Hay attributes this success to three things: high-quality stock, good clientele and the shop’s commitment to Bethany’s core values of treating people with respect and compassion.

“At the heart of what we do, we want to establish relationships with people in the community. Everything else flows out of that, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been around for such a long time,” Ann said.

“I feel it is a real privilege to work for Bethany, particularly as its focus is on practical help, through Christian love in action, to those most in need. We are delighted that we receive such splendid support to continue our vital work to help homeless and vulnerable people in Scotland. We receive great donations, and we have loyal customers who come in regularly.  We endeavour to make everyone feel welcome and we hope that all have a positive retail experience.

“We are truly at the heart of this community and have built up longstanding relationships locally with residents, churches and other organisations.”

Bethany Christian Trust focuses on relieving the immediate suffering and meeting the long-term needs of homeless and vulnerable people in Scotland. Projects include emergency help and resettlement, visiting support and community development.