Monday, 20 September 2021

New charity shop helping vulnerable children in Philippines

A CHARITY shop has opened in Benson.

A CHARITY shop has opened in Benson.

Mercy in Action has taken over the former Benson Wines premises in High Street and sells homeware, clothes and books.

It is the 17th shop to be opened by the charity, which was founded by John and Allison Todd in 1995 to help feed, educate and nurture vulnerable street children in the Philippines.

Mrs Todd, who attended the opening, said: “We have been looking in this area for many years. The local people have been so warm and welcoming and we’re sure we can offer something to the community as well as our shops aren’t just a business, they’re here for people to enjoy.”

Mrs Todd said the charity began after she and her husband went on holiday to the Philippines and were approached by five small boys asking for food as they hadn’t eaten for three days.

She said: “We bought them some food and the next day they came with their friends and by the end of the week there were 18 of them. We committed, through friends who live there, to send £40 a month and it has grown from there.

“We now have three children’s homes in Cebu — one for girls, one for boys and one dedicated home for boys rescued from sexual trafficking.”

The charity also operates a drop-in centre and a community centre and runs school programmes.

It employs about 40 people and currently has more than 400 children in school or college with every one guaranteed a job when they graduate.

“We have built up a good reputation out there so that local businesses now ask for first pick of our students when they go through college because they know they are good workers,” said Mrs Todd.

The Benson shop has two staff, manager Rhonda Williams and assistant manager Sylvia Knight.

To become a volunteer, call the shop on (01491) 598054.

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