St Ninian’s Parish Church may have closed for worship last summer, but there is still a thriving ministry in the parish hall in the form of a charity shop.
The shop opened for business in the hall off the Whitewell Road in September 2014, and is run by a dedicated team of volunteers. It stocks a huge range of items, and is open every Thursday and Friday from 12.30pm-4pm.
The rector, the Rev Elaine O’Brien said: “The shop provides the opportunity for a good social gathering for volunteers and local people, and is also a great boost to our income.”
It was the idea of Sam Millar, whose runs his own antiques business in Greyabbey. “I felt there could be something done to use the hall when it was empty and to make some money,” he said.
Sam said that some of the volunteers have had experience dealing with the general public but for many it was a new experience.
“While the objective of raising much needed funds continues, two other important benefits have emerged. A strong fellowship has developed between those involved in the project but perhaps most important of all we have built relationships with the wider often troubled community of the Whitewell Road,” Sam said.
Any parish considering a similar project is welcome to contact Sam on 07867 622514 or Belle on 028 9077 0527 and they will be happy share their experiences.