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In 1991 St James Parish Church, in Carlisle established an OpShop in order to pay interest and capital on a loan taken out to develop its Parish Centre. The OpShop received strong support from the congregation, the parish and beyond. This produced a willing and skilled group of volunteers and strong community support (donors and customers). Over time, the links with the wider community developed further and the number of volunteers, donors and customers increased.
It became apparent that rather than just running a profitable shop through which local projects could be funded, St James Church was starting to engage with many people in the local community with financial, emotional and spiritual needs. The interaction between volunteers and customers started to build relationships through which support and encouragement were provided and breaking down the barriers of loneliness and isolation.
We have now grown in size to 4 shops and a warehouse at The Maltings, Shaddongate in Carlisle
and we are soon to be opening a 5th shop at New Squares in Penrith
Reconnecting the community.
In 2009 the Diocese of Carlisle developed the model and began to open shops in other parts of the city of Carlisle and then Penrith, with a particular focus on larger estates with real needs where other retailers and service providers have withdrawn.
In 2019 the decision was taken to strengthen and expand the work and to this aim Opshops became a stand-alone charity, a new Board of Trustees took charge and in July 2020 the name was changed to RESTORE.OUR MISSION