Since hearing that we had the go ahead from Government to reopen our shops we worked hard to ensure all the relevant steps are followed to become Covid-Secure. We had plans not just to undertake the minimum requirements, but to achieve an even higher level of protection.  

Adapting for survival

We understand that some of the safety measures that we currently have in place are thought to be rather extreme by some people, particularly relating to the format of our shops. We have changed the shop format in order to help us survive.

Having not had any customers in our shops during lockdown, it is clear that if that were to happen again we would risk needing to close our doors to the public entirely; this would severely affect our income and in turn the service we provide to our patients if we were not fully prepared.

Our shops are still at the heart of our communities and if we are to guarantee an income from our retail operation we also need to reach our supporters in different ways whilst still protecting our staff and volunteers, hence launching the shops' own Facebook pages as an addition rather than a replacement way to purchase and continuing to look for new ways for people to shop with us such as Ebay which is proving to be very successful.

Supporting our communities

We know that we are likely to lose some customers while they are unable to browse our shops as normal, but we are proud to have opened our shops when many charities have decided to permanently downsize the number of shops they have or they have remained closed altogether. It can be very disheartening for our shop teams when faced with the comments of those customers who are not happy with the current situation. Unfortunately, they have received rude, verbal comments from some visitors and this can be personally upsetting.

It is important to remember however, that to us here at Devon Air Ambulance, our shops are so much more than just a premises to sell donated items. They create our footprint in the community, they keep our charity name alive on the high street, they enable our supporters to visit to play our lottery, make monetary donations and offer a face to face setting for those who have been personally affected by our service to talk to our shop teams about their own experiences.

This is still happening and is one of the main reasons we have our doors open, not only for our valued customers - albeit unable to browse right now - but also for those regular visitors who pop in to say hello when they are passing and who missed us very much while we were closed.

Care for everyone we serve

As a health charity that considers the safety of our staff, our volunteers and our supporters of paramount importance, we plan to continue to operate this way, evolving as the situation regarding the pandemic changes. We know that our current format is not popular with all of our supporters, but we are committed to securing the future of our shops and keeping our staff, volunteers and supporters safe.

Here at HQ we have received a number of telephone calls and emails from people with some of the same concerns, but on the whole, when we have explained our reasoning and given a little bit more information about why certain decisions have been made, they have been very understanding, wished us well and in some cases actually thanked us for opening our doors and allowing at least some social interaction to take place.

We felt it was important to share this information with you and hope it will go some way to giving you a clearer picture of the current situation. Thank you for your continued support, whatever part you play in our charity, whether supporter, staff or volunteer, your dedication to your local air ambulance is appreciated by us all and most importantly, those we are able to help when they need us most.  

You can keep up to date with all of our retail news by visiting our shops information pages which are updated regularly.