Business is booming at Kisharon’s latest social enterprise – the Equal store that has opened in Temple Fortune. This is a charity store with a difference because everything on sale at Equal is brand new and its upmarket goods and sleek interior would be worthy of any West End store.
At the official opening Kisharon Chief Executive Dr Beverley Jacobson outlined plans for the social enterprise including “training young people with learning disabilities through supported internships in all different sorts of work so that we can find out their skill sets and match them into employment opportunities.”
Behind the scenes “micro enterprises” contributed towards Equal opening in time to sell Rosh Hashanah goods. On sale were cards and works of art designed by adults from the charity’s day service and supported living. In addition to the art enterprise is a baking enterprise run by volunteers and helped by adults with learning disabilities who packaged honey cakes, cookies, dried fruit, nuts and sweets.
“I’ve been working at Kisharon for eight years and the way that the world of disability has changed in that time is remarkable, said Dr Jacobson. “The adults we are supporting were all in day services and were just moving around and doing activities and we really wanted to include them in life and the way to do that seemed to be through work.”
The shop is popular with adults from Kisharon’s supported living service many who turned out for the launch. Moishe Goldblatt wanted “to polish the silver and make everything nice,” while Debbie Rosten said the shop was “very cool.” Talya Jacobson, who is Dr Jacobson’s daughter, helped to package Rosh Hashanah goodies and enjoyed greeting customers, when she turned out on a Sunday.
Dr Jacobson paid tribute to the volunteers including Claire Zulman, “who spent the best part of a year and a half… all the thinking of the merchandising, the stocking, ably supported by Philip Bright, [a retail consultant].” Mrs Zulman had seen a similar concept in South Africa and wanted to replicate it.
Also on the premises is the Equal creative agency that will replace the much-loved Kisharon Print Shop as an expanded service offering ideas, concepts, design and print. Beverley Kaye, Equal’s creative head, explains: “Equal is not just a store it’s a social enterprise where the stakeholders are people with learning disabilities. We are changing the face of charity shopping and people will be really surprised to see just how far we’ve taken the concept as a not-for-profit business.”
The last word goes to Dr Jacobson, who said “Equal is the shop front for Kisharon’s employment service which currently has 80 people with learning disabilities working in businesses across London. I am very excited by everything that we are doing at Equal – there is so much potential”.
Visit Equal and you’ll find a fantastic retail experience with many exclusive ranges – current stock includes brightly coloured bags, purses and travel bags by Paper Thinks, crafted from recycled leather and room fragrances, candles, diffusers, soaps and toiletries by Tea London and Charlotte Rhys. And look out for designer bowls, pottery, candle sticks, glass ware and works of art.
Equal is at 818 Finchley Road, NW11 6XL. Opening hours: 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Thursday; 4pm closing Friday (2pm winter); Sunday 10am – 4pm. [Closed Yom Tovs]. Call 020 8457 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org