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Pre-Loved, a shop about building a community in West Yorkshire

Keighley is the second most deprived area in the district of Bradford, outside of the city center. The shop Pre-Loved meets a need, helping families who are working, but struggling to make ends meet. It is one of the New Places for New People projects of the Yorkshire West Methodist District.

03 April 2024

In the Royal Arcade in Keighley, the Pre-Loved shop offers second-hand clothing for babies and children and an area for children to play. “This morning a new client came, she had a little one as well as a baby and was struggling. She was able to sit here and feed her baby, and I kept the little one occupied. We offer second-hand clothing and a space to chat; sometimes we give the items away for free if that's what's needed,” explains Sarah, the shop manager and Gathering Pioneer of the Airedale Methodist Circuit.

The project began in a dream experienced by Revd Nel Shallow, one of the Pioneer Presbyters, before she moved to the area in 2021, “One day, I was walking in the town, chatting with people and I came into the Royal Arcade and there was the shop that I had dreamt about, available to be rented. It was unbelievable.”

The plans moved on quickly as the circuit wondered how to start a New Places for New People project. Revd Clare Sainsby, Superintendent Minister in the Yorkshire West Methodist District.,called a circuit leadership team meeting and it was agreed they would rent it but they were unsure how they were to use it at the time.

Soon they decided to open a shop to sell pre-loved children's clothing.

“We are a community shop. We are here to bless and love the community, not make money. The name also has a theological meaning as within our Wesleyan tradition, we have prevenient grace that we are already pre-loved by God."

Revd Nel Shallow, a Pioneer Presbyter

A unit nearby was also empty and they decided to rent it and expand their offer to include toys, books and a space to chat and offer activities for children.

“The reaction has been fantastic. Because we are within the community of the arcade, there's a kind of chaplaincy that happens. We have had really good conversations with clients and with the other retailers. A few people asked us to pray for them and often people come in and ask why we're here,” says shop manager Sarah.

Passionate about the Methodist Way of Life, many members offered to volunteer at the shop while others wash and iron the donated clothes. “We have a lovely group of people who make fabric bags for us. We don't use any plastic bags, but we bless people with these amazing fabric bags when they buy anything,” explains Nel.

Pre-Loved shop Keighley Yorkshire West New Place for New People

More New Places for New People

Pre-Loved is just the beginning. The circuit wants to develop the relationships that had started to form and offer more to the community. So, when an Anglican building became vacant, the circuit decided to rent it to further its mission.

“I didn't know that I was coming to a circuit that was going to say yes to mission at every turn and it's been an absolute joy. The most exciting thing was hearing the circuit steward say that this is what they've been waiting for,” adds Clare.

The team does not yet have a fixed project for the building, but they want to cement the relationships they built with local families by focusing on activities they can join and enjoy. The building is a blank canvas and they intend to fill it up with what the community needs.

It's about how the people we meet help us shape what the space will be. I love the fact that it's not all polished and finished. I love the fact that we can work with the community we want to serve. So we ask them, what do they want their space to look like?” concludes Revd David Goodall, the Missional Communities Enabler in the District.