You will have no doubt read about, or seen on TV, the Penwortham shop that went viral.Advertisement
Integrate’s charity shop on Liverpool Road were selling jeans at £1.50 when a local resident sent them a furious letter.
Integrate is a social enterprise group that provides a support service to help people with disabilities fully develop within their chosen community. This includes everything from finding accommodation to seeking employment so you can imagine how the community responded when they heard about this letter.
The charity’s Facebook posts only receive an average of 80 views and they rarely have any interaction on the page so weren’t expecting much from their image of the letter. Integrate’s Project Director, Peter Green, said: “It has been completely overwhelming and very supportive on the whole. We were also astounded by how far it reached, we have had contact from all over the world.”
He continued by explaining why he thought it got a huge response: “It just resonated with people, we are a small local charity that have quietly gone about our work for the past 30 years and the ridiculous allegation that we have had a negative impact on property prices was laughable. When it comes to issues like this I think that people just want to show their support and make sure that you know the odd intolerant person is just that.”
Integrate has other projects in the Preston area, including Sow n’ Grow and The Woodhouse, which sells recycled timber, wood products and firewood on stocks road at 80% less than other timber suppliers. Both sticking to Integrate’s ethos of providing training and employment opportunities for people with learning difficulties, autism and mental health issues.
The charity shop still do not know who sent the letter but Peter did tell us they are not the only business to have complaints: “Sadly we have also been contacted by other businesses in the area, both current and previous, who have also had negativity directed towards them. I think if we did get chance to speak to them [the person who sent the letter] then we would just be curious as to why they didn’t feel they could approach us directly in the first instance. I’m not sure they will ever feel confident enough to show themselves now as the weight of public opinion has shown how ill judged their position was.”
And as for being on TV: “Surreal is the only word that springs to mind, it all happened so fast. We were thrilled to be asked and I think the BBC did a good job of showing a balanced view. Obviously it has been amazing publicity for us and I can’t help but wonder if the author of the letter saw it and whether they feel any differently now.”