Since the economic downturn, charity shops have played a vital role in shoring up charitable donations at a time of restraint. Yet they have a value beyond fundraising for parent charities. The shops provide valuable recycling services and supply more affordable goods to a public facing a cost of living crisis. Even greater than this, they provide a number of important social and economic benefits to individuals – including customers, donors or volunteers – and local communities across the UK.

Giving Something Back, which builds on previous Demos work on social value, provides the most comprehensive research to date about the benefits these shops have for local communities in recession-hit Britain. It uncovers real social benefits, including their role in bringing a community together, tackling loneliness and in some cases providing a high-street outpost for service delivery. It also identifies a clear business benefit: not just through upskilling volunteers, but also assisting in the fight against high street decline.

The report’s key recommendations challenge charity shops to do more to demonstrate the social value they generate, and communicate this to their local public through clear, tangible examples. The report also suggests that local health services and Jobcentres make use of the positives that volunteering in charity shops can provide. Finally, it argues that local authorities should do more to arrest high-street decline, and that, as a fixture on high streets across the UK, charity shops should be part of this discussion.