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Charity shop Made in Kent, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, opens soon in Gravesend High Street

By Nick Lillitos

A charity shop, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, opens soon in Gravesend to benefit Kent artists, the community and people with mental health issues.

Called Made in Kent, the High Street shop is due to open on Friday, January 29, selling new local hand-made quality artisan products with profits supporting North Kent Mind.

Most charity shops sell second-hand donated goods, but this one says its approach is different.

'Made in Kent" charity shop. Richard Giles and Fiona Spirals.
'Made in Kent" charity shop. Richard Giles and Fiona Spirals.

Staffed by volunteers, the shop will buy products from Kent artists, from candles to textiles, pottery and artwork, for customers to purchase them as new.

Justin Bateman, chief executive at the north Kent charity, told the Messenger: “Apart from supporting artists the shop will give work experience placements for people wanting to gain confidence before moving into mainstream employment, while at the same time helping the local economy.”

One of the first whose work will go on sale is Higham artist Fiona Spirals, known for her collages of Higham marshes and other landmarks in the area, including photography and sketches.

She said: “It’s an opportunity not to be missed, putting my work in such a prominent position in Gravesend, especially the Heritage Quarter.

“It gives artists like myself a wonderful chance to get our work out in the wider community. Outlets like this are few and far between.”

That view is echoed by Richard Giles, the charity’s deputy chief executive and special projects manager. He said: “This is very much a new-style charity shop – a great way to promote local artisan creativity while supporting well-being and good mental health.”

Volunteers or artists wishing to sell their products should contact richardgiles@northkentmind.co.uk

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