Milton Keynes hospice teams up with Buckingham pupils for groundbreaking eBay project

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Stowe schoolchildren are checking, researching and cataloguing items donated to Willen Hospice, so they can be sold online

Stowe School has teamed up with a local hospice charity in a groundbreaking initiative that combines business, retail and education.

When members of the public donate clothing and other items to Willen Hospice, some of those goods are then sold on the charity's online retail shops, eBay and Depop.

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In order to sort, research and list the products online, the hospice relies on the availability and expertise of volunteers. Now pupils from Stowe School have stepped in to help over the next few months, in a venture that is a first for the charity.

Stowe School students check over donated items for Willen HospicedStowe School students check over donated items for Willen Hospiced
Stowe School students check over donated items for Willen Hospiced

Pupils will check items for damage, measure and research them to calculate suitable online prices, write descriptions and photograph them. Details are entered in an Excel spreadsheet ready to be uploaded to online platforms when the goods are returned to Willen Hospice.

The retail team from Willen Hospice visited Stowe to explain the value of the students’ contribution and how the funds raised from online sales directly support end-of-life patients and their families.

Maths teacher Jessica Nichols said: "Our 4th form Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award pupils have to do weekly volunteering – something that would be difficult to achieve off site if we were to transport over 50 pupils and their teachers to other venues each week.

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"This project suits us perfectly, as it can be accomplished on site and will help to round their education through development of their volunteering ethos and change-maker skills.”

Items are checked, measured, researched and cataloguedItems are checked, measured, researched and catalogued
Items are checked, measured, researched and catalogued

Willen’s commercial director Mark Rawlins said: "These are our businesspeople of the future. Whilst we benefit from the students' IT skills and knowledge of fashion and brands, they will benefit from the exposure to working on a real-life business project. We are very pleased to be working with our local community in such an innovative way.”

Online retail manager Dulcie Stewart said: "Working with Stowe School means we can increase the number of items we can list and sell. Helping in this way will grow our online inventory and ultimately increase the amount raised for our hospice.

"The students, supervised by their teachers, are sorting, photographing and carefully preparing the items for resale on our online platforms. They also conduct online research to produce accurate and realistic pricing, so that items have a good chance of selling for the maximum price.

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"We cannot express how grateful we are to Stowe School for working with us on this new initiative.”

Pupils with a consignment of donated itemsPupils with a consignment of donated items
Pupils with a consignment of donated items

Rowland Shuttleworth, head of service at Stowe, said “We are proud to be supporting Willen Hospice and are looking forward to getting involved in future projects. We recently donated clothing and accessories to the value of around £2,000 for resale.

"In February, over 40 students and their teachers will be volunteering at The Point in Central Milton Keynes and at the hospice.”

Willen Hospice needs to raise £5.9 million every year, or £11 a minute in order to provide compassionate end-of-life care free of charge at its in-patient unit and in people’s homes. Less than 20 per cent of its funding comes from the government and all the rest has to be raised privately by the local community.