B@titude emerged from a number of conversations between a group of friends, over several cups of coffee. Jenny & friends were trying to find practical ways to support and serve their local community. There was a gap in provision for families in Leatherhead and although there were 3 or 4 very good charity shops, none of them specialised in children’s clothes or equipment.
An opportunity came up to look at a shop that was closing down on the Kingston Road and it was perfect in every way. The location was ideal, it was really well equipped, the size was great and so the dream was born.
The shop needed to be different, to really serve the families in the immediate area but also further afield. Children’s clothes can be very expensive and so the average cost of clothing in B@titude is between 50p – £1. To be able to achieve this it needed something extra to happen and a group of friends including one business supports the shop by sponsoring the rent.
The shop opened on the 24th January 2005. It has exceeded our expectations in so many ways. We have made many friends in the community, and we could not have achieved half of what has happened without the generosity of people continuing to support us and donate great quality clothes, toys, equipment and small items of furniture.
Having a small tea and coffee area has been a very important aspect of the shop, it has given mums, dads and grandparents, a chance to relax while children can play in the play area. It has become a bit of a gathering place and community meetings sometimes take place in the shop. We also enjoy the company of the older generation who come in for tea and a chat and who themselves feel they benefit from mixing with young families.
This is a very resourceful, lively community and we are delighted to be part of the Leatherhead story. There are many more dreams waiting!
So is this run all out of the shop?
No, but it is the main contact point for many of these elements. For us the shop holds great value and worth; providing a good and honest space for people to share, connect and invest in one another.
There are many different projects that happen both inside and outside of the shop. We are currently in our second year of being able to offer counselling to individuals we’ve built relationships with.
We’ve have recently decided to finish a very valuable and popular 7 year long holiday scheme where we offered families a holiday in our caravan. It was very expensive to run so for the last three summers holidays we have organised trips to places such as London Zoo, Hobbledown Farm & Butlins in Bognor. It’s important to us to be able to help families have break together, even if it is only a day away somewhere different.
Jenny had a dream of being involved in something like this many years ago when her family of four were young. With the huge support of her family and friends she embarked on this adventure. She’s well known in the shop for many ‘Jenny moments’ – probably her most famous was riding a moped through a church, smashing through locked doors and disturbing a meeting that was taking place inside!
Ruth jumped on the B@titude boat after hearing from a friend about Jenny’s dream. A few coffee’s and a lot of chin wagging later and the partnership was formed. We couldn’t imagine this shop story without her!
Naomi started working for B@titude in 2008 as administrator after volunteering. She’s responsible for running projects like our summer outings, our visits to Romania and making sure the charity runs smoothly.
Our values are:
The name comes from the account in the Gospels of one of the most famous stories. Matthew 5: The ‘Beatitudes’. A talk that seemed to challenge aspects of social justice, commitment to one another and values of life.