Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Stuart Graham, Director of Give+Take

Stuart Graham Stuart Graham is the Director of the Crumlin charity shop Give+Take. He is married to teacher Ann and they live in the Nutts Corner area. The retired Civil Servant has always had an interest in community projects, and following his early retirement he helped establish the Linen Green visitors centre near Dungannon with the local Community Association. He has since retired from the Linen Green and works as a part time farmer as well as running the charity shop, which was set up last year. Ann and Stuart spent time in Croatia after the war there. They were in the country for three months helping the refugees. It was this experience which led them to form the Church Growth Croatia and Bosnia organisation 16 years ago.

Ever since they have been raising money to help with social and economic problems and providing money for lots of different projects, including bridge building and also helping fund a project to translate the Bible into Bosniac.

The couple decided to open the charity shop in Crumlin to help raise further funds for the people in Croatia and Bosnia.

The shop is open six days a week. Myself and a team of volunteers run it just like any other retail business. We are very fortunate to have such good people on board with us. Some of them come long distances to volunteer their time. We open at 10am and operate six days a week.

The whole ethos of the shop is to allow people to come in and browse the goods on sale and have a chat with us at the same time. We sell an extensive range of items including bric and brac, clothes, books, cd's, toys and furniture. Everything is of good quality as we operate a policy that if we wouldn't buy something we won't sell it. As a charity shop we do rely heavily on donations from people. The word is definitely spreading about our work as people are coming from lots of different areas to leave off unwanted items. We are very grateful for this.

Once we have the items we go through them and sort them out. Any clothes that we can't sell we bundle up to give to a not for profit recycling charity. Then we will put out the 'new' goods onto the shelves.

There's lots to do in the shop. I could be working on rotas, replenishing stock, sorting out deliveries, arranging collections and most importantly serving the customers. I spend great deal of time talking to people and I really enjoy it when they want to find out more about the organisation. People are interested in knowing where the money goes and I enjoy being able to tell them.

As I go over to the countries at least three times a year, I have first hand knowledge of what the money is doing. I also have people updating me regularly and telling me where the money has been put to use. Recently money from the shop was used to buy a wheel chair for a child in Bosnia. This is very satisfying knowing that people are benefiting from our work.

The shop normally closes around 4.30pm but it really depends on when the last customer leaves. We have been known to be open until after 7pm, depending on how busy it is.

It really is quite interesting to see the impact that this shop in Crumlin is having on other communities. I am really passionate about my job and knowing that the work that we do is being put to good use is important.

Ulster Star