Looking for Christmas party outfits? Look no further than your local Rowans Hospice charity shop

From left, Sarah Smith, store manager, Melva Hunt, volunteer and Jade Maitland, sales assistant. Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1636)
From left, Sarah Smith, store manager, Melva Hunt, volunteer and Jade Maitland, sales assistant. Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1636)
Promoted by Rowans Hospice

TASKED with the challenge of styling Christmas party outfits from items donated to a Rowans Hospice charity shop – I wasn’t sure what the end result would be.

But as a 26-year-old fashion-conscious young woman, I was pleasantly surprised at the pieces I found in store, and the outfits I managed to put together for staff and on mannequins.

Staff and mannequins dressed in their Christmas party outfits styled with stock from a Rowans Hospice charity shop, by reporter Tamara Siddiqui. Outfit prices from left: mannequin in red top 4.50, skirt 5, belt 3.50 (13); volunteer Melva in a pink dress which is 8, faux fur shawl 5, belt 3, shoes 8, pendant 2.50 (26.50); second mannequin in cream top 4, leather-look skirt 4, shoes 8 (16); store manager Sarah in a black top 6, skirt, 5, shoes 6, bracelet 6 (23); and sales assistant Jade in a silver blazer 7, blouse 8, trousers 4.50, shoes 8 (27.50) Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1650)

Staff and mannequins dressed in their Christmas party outfits styled with stock from a Rowans Hospice charity shop, by reporter Tamara Siddiqui. Outfit prices from left: mannequin in red top 4.50, skirt 5, belt 3.50 (13); volunteer Melva in a pink dress which is 8, faux fur shawl 5, belt 3, shoes 8, pendant 2.50 (26.50); second mannequin in cream top 4, leather-look skirt 4, shoes 8 (16); store manager Sarah in a black top 6, skirt, 5, shoes 6, bracelet 6 (23); and sales assistant Jade in a silver blazer 7, blouse 8, trousers 4.50, shoes 8 (27.50) Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1650)

There were sequins, sparkles and chic dresses, plus brand-new clothes with the tags still on and items from high-end brands, such as Calvin Klein.

At this time of year people fork out hundreds on different Christmas party outfits – but why bother when you can shop at one third of the price, still look good, and help a great cause at the same time?

Sales assistant Jade Maitland, 31, has worked at one of Rowans Hospice’s two Gosport charity shops for five months.

She said people would be surprised at just how many brand-new items with tags they would find in the charity’s shops.

Store manager Sarah Smith in her 23 outfit (Top 6, skirt, 5, shoes 6, bracelet 6). Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1606)

Store manager Sarah Smith in her 23 outfit (Top 6, skirt, 5, shoes 6, bracelet 6). Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1606)

She said: ‘By shopping with us you definitely get more for your money. A lot of our stock is new but you pay one third of the price you would at wherever it came from.

‘People would be and often are surprised at how many things they see in our shops with the original tags on.

‘We have a predominantly older clientelle but actually, a lot of the stuff we hold are items younger people would want to wear. 

‘At the moment we’ve got lots of partywear in – sequins, sparkles dresses, and accessories to go with them. People can make up their own outfits and wear things others probably won’t have.

Reporter Tamara Siddiqui styled some Christmas party outfits at a Rowans Hospice charity Gosport to show people they don't have to fork out loads of money on clothes. Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1616)

Reporter Tamara Siddiqui styled some Christmas party outfits at a Rowans Hospice charity Gosport to show people they don't have to fork out loads of money on clothes. Picture: Sarah Standing (180840-1616)

‘A lot of the new stuff we get in isn’t always the most recent season’s fashion, but it still looks great, and some of it is.

‘It’s not just high street stuff we have, we get brands like Coast, Phase Eight and Calvin Klein – really high-quality bits.’

Staff get pricing guides from the Rowans Hospice’s head office – but rest assured you’ll find a bargain in-store – all of the outfits I styled from head to toe were under £30.

Rather than just picking out single items like a dress, I was able to scan the store and put together tops, trousers, skirts and blazers to make up Christmas outfits.

The charity cares for those with terminal or life-limiting illnesses from Portsmouth and across south-east Hampshire. It does so at its Waterlooville hospice and Living Well Centre.

Jade added: ‘I think shopping at charity shops should be people’s first port of call, even if they don’t know what they want, they’ve got nothing to lose and they’re helping a great cause if they do find something.’

Carol Milner, director of people services and retail at Rowans Hospice, said the charity has 22 shops.

She said: ‘They all play an important part in raising valuable income for the charity.

‘Last year alone, thanks to the fantastic donations from our local community, sales from those shops saw more than £500,000 fund the ongoing provision of care.

‘The first Rowans retail charity shop opened in Fratton more than 25 years ago and since then we have grown to 22 shops, which are sited within our area of care.

‘The majority of our shops are traditional charity shops, selling a range of quality items including clothing, homeware, books and more.

‘In recent times we’ve opened specialist furniture and craft shops, plus an online eBay store, to sell rarer and specialist items that have been donated.

‘Our aim is to offer an enhanced retail experience and for Rowans Hospice to become part of the fabric of a local community.

‘Key to this aim is our staff and volunteers, who hold close the values that make the charity very special.

‘We would love to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer a couple of hours in one of our shops. It’s a great experience working alongside a very friendly team of people.

‘We are so fortunate and thankful for the donations our supporters provide and we make every effort to ensure our stock is beautifully displayed so that we gain the most that we possibly can for the charity.’

SILVER JUBILEE APPEAL

AFTER 25 years of caring for the community Rowans Hospice has announced its Silver Jubilee Appeal – an ambitious three-phase project in which £7.5m needs to be raised.

The funds will see the charity’s Waterlooville hospice completely transformed, in turn transforming the services that can be provided for those with terminal or life-limiting illnesses – and their loved ones – from across Portsmouth and in south-east Hampshire. 

The News is the charity’s media partner for the appeal.

- To make a difference today and donate directly to it, text RSJA25 £10 or £5 to 70070.

Bishops Waltham – 2A High Street

Cosham – 53 Northern Road

Cowplain – 63 London Road

Drayton – 224E Havant Road

Emsworth – 6 South Street

Fareham – 49 West Street

Fratton – 146 Fratton Road

Gosport – 123-127 Stoke Road and 133a Stoke Road

Hayling Island – 5 Mengham Road

Havant – 5 Market Parade

Lee-on-the-Solent – 145 High Street

Leigh Park – 20 Park Parade

North End – 60 London Road

Petersfield – 20 High Street

Portchester – 38a West Street

Southsea – 7 Marmion Road and 11 Marmion Road

Stubbington – 27 Stubbington Green

Titchfield – 1-3 Church Street

Waterlooville – 1 Queens Parade

Wickham – Unit 10 Warwick Lane