Charity shop providing opportunities for young people opens fourth Merseyside store

A group of people standing in the doorway of a shop

Britain’s first chain of charity sports shops is set to open its fourth Merseyside store with a new branch opening in St Helens.

Sports Traider, who provide opportunities for young people, have been working alongside Merseyside Police and Local Authorities in recent years and their latest shop will open its doors to the public in Church Square Shopping Centre.

Projects in Birkenhead, Bootle and Crosby - all part of Operation Stonehaven - have been providing opportunities and assisting with activities to lead young people away from a life of crime.

Since 2019 more than 30 people have been supported with full-time, part-time, and volunteer working within the stores and eight people have been retained by Sports Traider as fully paid workers. Five people continue to be supported as paid volunteers and others have gained retail experience to move on to further employment. 

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Jeanie Bell said: “I’m hugely passionate about St Helens and creating opportunities for the people who live there so I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Sports Traider to the town centre.

“This charity shop, the fourth of its kind in Merseyside, can play a crucial part in deterring young people from getting caught up in criminal activities whilst helping them to develop vital life skills and increasing their employment potential.

“By engaging with vulnerable young people in places like Birkenhead and Sefton, this project is already making a real difference by showing that crime doesn’t pay, while helping the volunteers to improve their life and social skills, ultimately helping to create safer local communities for residents.

“I hope Sports Traider will continue to make positive changes to the local community for many years to come.”

Lance Haggith OBE, founder of the charity, said: “To have four shops in the Merseyside area is great and those involved in the projects are really seeing the benefits of working with us.

“Our activities and employment opportunities are there to provide an alternative to young people who may be getting caught up in a life of crime, or who may not know where to turn. We are here to help and by working with other organisations we are able to support more and more people.”

Operation Stonehaven is Merseyside Police force’s preventative and diversionary pathway for young people who are on the cusp of criminality and at risk of being exploited. It is part of Project Medusa - the Merseyside-led initiative set up to tackle County Lines drug dealing and the criminal exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults.

Jimmy Belmar, lead for Operation Stonehaven at Merseyside Police, said: "We are proud to continue our successful partnership with Sports Traider and open a brand-new shop in St Helens, which is now the fourth of its kind in Merseyside alongside branches in Birkenhead, Bootle and Crosby.

“We share the same vision as the charity, in that we want young people who may be facing some challenges in their life to be given an opportunity.

“It’s been brilliant to see the young people involved build confidence, self-esteem and new skills through volunteering or working at Sports Traider. There have been so many success stories – many of the young people who have been referred to us have now developed the important skills needed to land paid work, either with Sports Traider directly or progressing with a different company. The positive impact for local communities and the individuals themselves is far-reaching.

As well as employment and life skills, sports coaching and community activities will be supported by the charity.

Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Economy, Business and Skills, added: “This is a really exciting venture to come here to St Helens, which will really give back to our community and help to fund sports coaching for young people and create employment opportunities too. We look forward to welcoming Sports Traider Charity to St Helens town centre as another new organisation choosing our borough as part of their expansion and this shows the continued confidence in our regeneration plans.”

Steve Brogan, Centre Manager for Church Square Shopping Centre, commented: “We are so excited for Sports Traider Charity to open in Church Square. Their values are something we as a Centre resonate deeply with, so having them as a tenant at our Centre is going to be really exciting!”

As well as the - now - four Sports Traider shops in Merseyside - the charity has stores at 9 other locations throughout the UK. From Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Stoke-on-Trent. Shoppers can find new branded sportswear from the likes of Kickers, Ellesse and Regatta, priced at very competitive prices. Profits from sales go back into the local community to support local sports and participation projects community projects.