Milton Keynes charity teams up with students in new business initiative

    Local charity, Willen Hospice has teamed up with Stowe School in a ground-breaking initiative combining business, retail and education.

    When members of the public donate items to Willen Hospice, a portion of those goods are resold on the charity's online retail shops, ebay and Depop.

    The Hospice relies on the availability and expertise of volunteers to sort, research and list the products online; and now, in a venture which is a first for the charity, pupils from Stowe School have stepped in to help over the next few months.

    Stoics (as the pupils are known) will check items for damage, measure products, research them to calculate suitable online prices, write descriptions and photograph them.

    All necessary details are provided in an excel spreadsheet ready for upload to online platforms, when the goods are returned to Willen Hospice.

    The retail team from Willen Hospice recently visited Stowe School to explain the value of their contribution and how the funds raised from online sales directly support end of life patients and their families.

    Jessica Nichols, Stowe School says "Our fourth form Duke of Edinburgh, Bronze award pupils have to do weekly volunteering – something that would be difficult to achieve offsite if we were to transport over 50 pupils and their teachers to other venues each week.

    "This project suits us perfectly as it can be accomplished onsite, and will help to round their education through development of their volunteering ethos and change-maker skills. We encourage our Stoics be involved in activities where they can develop these skills which include; Active Learning, Emotional Intelligence, Creativity & Innovation, Communication & Technology, Analytical Thinking and Leadership & Social Literacy.“

    Mark Rawlins, Director of Commercial at Willen Hospice said "These are our businesspeople of the future. Whilst we benefit from the students' IT skills and knowledge of fashion and brands, they will benefit from the exposure to working on a real-life, business project. We are very pleased to be working with our local community in such an innovative way.”  

    Dulcie Stewart, Commercial Manager, Online Retail at Willen Hospice said "Working with Stowe School means we can increase the number of items we can list and sell. Helping in this way will grow our online inventory and ultimately increase the amount raised for our Hospice. The students, supervised by their teachers, are sorting, photographing and carefully preparing the items for resale on our online platforms.

    "They also conduct online research to produce accurate and realistic pricing, so that items have a good chance of selling for the maximum price. We cannot express how grateful we are to Stowe School for working with us on this new initiative.”

    Rowland Shuttleworth, Head of Service at Stowe School said “We are proud to be supporting Willen Hospice and are looking forward to getting involved in future projects. We recently donated clothing and accessories to the value of around £2,000, for resale. In February 2023 over 40 students and their teachers will be volunteering at The Point in Central Milton Keynes, and at the Hospice.”

     Willen Hospice needs to raise £5.9 million every year, or £11 a minute.  Less than 20% of its funding comes from the government and all the rest has to be raised privately by the local community.

    Visit the website to find out more about the charity.

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