Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children was named winner of the excellence in retail award in the ceremony which was held online for the first time ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cannock-based charity was shortlisted in two categories – excellence in responsible business and excellence in retail – and was delighted to win the latter award, sponsored by Inspired Energy, after being shortlisted alongside Selfridges and Touchwood.
Harjnder Samra, deputy commercial director at Newlife, said: “We’re all absolutely delighted to have been awarded the Excellence in Retail award by the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, which is testament to the incredible amount of work our dedicated staff and volunteers put in throughout the year.
“It has been a hugely challenging time for the charity in recent months, first adapting to lockdown and largely closing down our retail operation, to recent weeks where staff have been working tirelessly to ensure our stores were Covid-secure and welcoming back our loyal shoppers.
“I’m so proud those efforts have been recognised externally and wish a huge well done to everyone at Newlife for all of their hard work.”
Over the last 30 years, the charity’s commercial operation has built up relationships with more than 240 retailers and manufacturers across the UK and Europe who donate unsold items for Newlife to sell at a reduced price in its network of seven stores to fund the charity’s work.
Donors include Primark, Matalan, Amazon and River Island and the items they donate, which include surplus goods, faulty items and customer returns, would otherwise end up in landfill.
Donating to Newlife helps organisations meet their sustainability goals while providing equipment to disabled children in desperate need at the same time.
Newlife’s stores include its flagship SuperStore, Home Store and Market Place in Cannock plus regional stores in Yardley, Birmingham, Market Drayton, Shropshire; Heanor, Derbyshire; and Moreton, The Wirral.
Hundreds of families with disabled and terminally ill children around the UK turn to Newlife in desperation each year because they cannot get the specialist equipment they need including wheelchairs, car seats, beds and buggies quickly enough through statutory services, often because of delays with supply or red tape.
Judges were impressed by the unique way in which Newlife raises money to fund the equipment and run its other vital services including a nurse-run helpline, loaning specialist toys to families and campaigning for changes to local and national policies on the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children.
During lockdown, the charity was hit extremely hard as all stores were closed for three months meaning income virtually stopped overnight. Yet, operating in a reduced capacity, Newlife managed to continue providing its vital services including operating its nurse-run helpline and emergency equipment response which is the only one of its kind in the country and aims to get vital equipment to families anywhere in the UK within 72 hours.
Heart FM presenter Ed James, who hosted the awards with the GBCC chief executive Paul Faulkner, said: “Newlife has been operating for 30 years and directly improved the lives of more than 20,000 disabled and terminally ill kids across the United Kingdom. It’s absolutely awesome. Congratulations and a huge well done to Newlife.”