Choose Love – Help Refugees have a pop up store in London’s Carnaby Street this Christmas, and it’s the second year they’ve done this. I volunteered for a morning, and I thought it was worthy of a blog post because it’s such a brilliant Charity and cause.
Choose Love – Help Refugees grew from a group of people taking supplies to refugees to this; a worldwide organisation which provides essentials. With two pop up stores in London and New York, and a lot of celebrity endorsements, it’s difficult to miss the Choose Love logo on a t-shirt. But this is more than a logo, this is something really important and heartwarming.
Yesterday I volunteered at the Choose Love in Carnaby Street, turning up at 9.30am full of nerves. I’m not very good at going into places on my own unless I know there will be friendly faces there. Within seconds I was with the team for the morning, with my borrowed Choose Love sweatshirt, learning about each section of the shop. I immediately felt at ease and ready.
Downstairs is the area where you buy a specific gift for someone in need. It is broken into three sections: Arrival – Which has basics like food, clothes and things to keep warm. The second section is Shelter. People can often spend years in camps, so this offers tents, sleeping bags, supplies like toiletries and nappies – it provides humanity. The final section is Future. Helping groups who help refugees so they can start again. From medical needs to schooling, it is all covered. When you see everything laid out as it was makes it feel so much more real. You see the pictures in the press, but most of us haven’t lived what these poor refugees have gone through so can only imagine it.
Upstairs has the Choose Love – Help Refugees t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, tote bags, posters and more. I can highly recommend the sweatshirt as being super warm too – so much that I bought one for myself.
The great thing about the Choose Love – Help Refugees store is that there’s something to suit every price range.
Prices range from £5 to £599 for the whole shop. You buy the whole shop, you’re buying essential supplies for everyone, you don’t walk out with everything. People were buying gifts for Secret Santa presents, people were coming in and spending Christmas present money and doubling it when they saw what was there.
I’ve never worked in a shop but know I can speak to strangers fairly easy once I know what I’m doing. It was quick and easy to get your head around. People wanted to know more, and everything on show explained it really well. By the door are gift cards so you’re able to mark up what you’ve bought for someone else.
It was heartwarming. A shop people come into and come away with nothing but a fuzzy sense of having helped someone else. It felt like the true spirit of Christmas, and one which so many people got behind.
Within the store is a Banksy sculpture, one from Dismaland. He has donated it to Choose Love – Help Refugees. If you wanted to try and win it you need to guess its weight. At £2 a time, you could end up with it before Christmas if you guess the weight correctly.
We had a busy day at the Choose Love – Help Refugees store in Carnaby Street. People coming to get their last minute Christmas shopping before it all gets too busy. We stood out in on Carnaby Street street calling out and holding up boards. I stayed on my feet the entire time – oh boy my back felt it by the time I got home! It was great, I had a lovely festive fuzzy feeling. I did something to help and helped make a difference. You can too – just pop over to their site.
Choose Love – Help Refugees Pop up Store is at 30-32 Fouberts Place, W1F 7PS, open until Christmas Eve. It is run entirely by volunteers and is open from 10am daily. Please check the website for exact opening hours.
A special mention for the most amazing falafels around the corner too (over the road from Liberty), at the Choose Love linked Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. The perfect place to stop after a busy morning – make sure you visit!