London Underground signs and framed Union Jacks are dotted about, while murals of iconic landmarks from the capital city cover the walls.

Doors are painted like those of a red telephone box, a vintage black telephone becomes a focal point and a black, white and red theme is carried throughout.

It certainly isn’t your average charity shop – but that’s exactly what Lewis-Manning Hospice’s Louise Croft was aiming for.

Louise, who has been appointed as a charity shop consultant by the Poole-based organisation, has been tasked with revamping the high street stores.

She first overhauled the Winton shop, drawing on the area’s student community and giving it a more urban feel, with graffiti and Shoreditch artwork covering the neon walls.

She then moved onto the Poole branch, which she has given a London theme, with the help of an army of volunteers.

“London is an aspirational, fun day out,” said Louise of the thinking behind the concept.

“We wanted to replicate that fun feeling of people being on holiday. We get lots of tourists in Poole, so we wanted to have that British feel. Plus, red, white and black work really well as a combination.

“Some people suggested we could have done a beach hut theme, but we wanted to be something different, we wanted to make a really stand-out look that was going to attract people in and get people talking about the work that we do as well.”

Former Bath University business graduate Louise, 24, has followed a career path focused on the charity retail sector since her graduation last year, selling donated clothes both online and in Student Unions. She has also worked with Julia’s House, setting up a pop-up shop for them in Barclays House for a month.

Her business acumen and innovative style soon brought her to the attention of Lewis-Manning, which relies on its ten shops across East Dorset to raise funds for its work supporting people with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. Louise is now a full time charity shop consultant there, using American “thrift stores” as her inspiration for the transformation of the charity’s stores.

“It’s great fun,” she said.

“Although ultimately we want the shops to bring in more money, my remit from Lewis-Manning is also about making a connection with the community and making each shop unique and specific to that area.

“The aim is to move away from a chain shop model and make them individual and full of personality, while still highlighting the Lewis-Manning brand.”

The revamps have been funded by Lewis-Manning’s head office, which has put money aside for the project, but Louise is conscious of using charity cash and tries to be as thrifty as possible when sourcing decorative pieces.

“We do it in a low budget, high impact way,” she explained.

“A lot of it we get for free, but we try to source things really ethically – if we can’t get stuff from our charity shops, I get things from another charity shop.

“This was the first Lewis Manning shop, so it’s really important to us to put a bit of investment back in. We’ve got several volunteers who have been here for over 20 years and it’s lovely for them to get a fresh shop.

“It’s the same volunteers, same stock, same service, same charity, but we are trying to revitalise the high street, and everyone has been loving it.”

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