On 19th November we welcomed our guest speaker Miss Val Howson, the manager of the Salvation Army Charity Shop at Meanwood Road Leeds. The title of her talk was Tales from the Charity Shop in which she described how her life resulted in her current post and then related some amusing and touching stories from her work.
Val described her childhood being brought up in a terraced house in Hunslet, Leeds and regularly attending the local chapel. At the age of 15 she left school to work in Marshall and Snelgrove’s department store and, after many varied jobs, the organisation she worked for suddenly folded leaving all its staff redundant. At the age of 52 she had great difficulty in finding another job, being unemployed for a full year, until she talked her way into her present position.
Her shop is in a converted chapel in a socially deprived area with many foreign students and immigrants living close by. She explained the philosophy of the charity shops which is to make money for something outside themselves. Her shop’s policy of one price for all similar items enables her customers to shop with dignity. Val’s talk concluded with a number of amusing anecdotes including a story of how a school in a remote part of Zambia became equipped with a pristine set of Leeds school uniforms obtained through her shop.
Mansel James proposed a vote of thanks for a very entertaining talk.