Earlier this year Becca Green had a dream. Wouldn’t it be great, she thought, if there was a shop offering lovely clothes, but at a low cost. A place that offered a beautiful shopping experience – for everyone; that as a workplace didn’t exploit volunteers, but helped them be part of the community and taught them skills. Perhaps with a café too. A nice place to be.
Welcome to The Beehive.
Part of Ashford Vineyard’s Thousand Hours scheme, in which volunteers donate one thousand hours of their time to the town and its people, it’s a community hub in Ashford, Kent.
The Beehive is no ordinary charity shop.
Whilst the public pay as usual, The Beehive offers a referral system so people within the community who can’t afford clothes, but are in desperate need, can come to the shop and be given the things that they need for free. They get great clothes, not run down or second best, which helps them feel good.
The Beehive team say, ‘We know that there is a lot of shame involved in accepting help, and we wanted to make the process much more empowering by allowing those referred to us to do the shopping themselves, choose anything that they need, and no-one else will know who are the ones receiving the help.’
In only a few short weeks the dream has become a reality: Becca Green (original Beehive visionary) and Nic Kimmance (Senior Pastor of Ashford Vineyard) along with a quickly formed team, set about trying to find a place where they could set up a shop. Almost immediately, Stafford Perkins acquired a building in the high street, near Ashford’s old St Mary’s Church, rent free for the month, and they began to make the dream a reality. Generous local businesses have provided the necessary bits and pieces to make an empty room into a beautiful shopping experience, such as tills, mannequins and window dressings.
The Beehive is very much ‘for the community, from the community.’ In a world where money reigns supreme, it’s nice to hear of enterprises where people come first.