Taranaki Women’s Refuge gifted thousands of items for pop-up shop

Volunteers from Taranaki Women’s Refuge have been busy their annual fundraising event. Taranaki Community News caught up with Shona Smith to find out what they’ll have on offer at the shop, and what they’ll do with the money they raise.

Hi Shona! Taranaki Women’s Refuge has a massive fundraising event coming up soon. What can you tell us about that?
Our annual Pop-Up Women’s Clothing Shop is a fabulous opportunity to refresh your wardrobe. We have a massive selection of great quality women’s clothing, shoes and accessories – including designer labelled items. 

All clothing has been donated by our community and all funds come directly to Taranaki Women’s Refuge to support women and children in Taranaki effected by domestic violence. 

We’ve been seeing some photos pop up on Facebook of the amazing clothing you all have collected. What sort of things will you have on the racks, and are there any standout pieces?
Oh we have so many!  Every year our Pop-Up Shop co-ordinator Suzanne Wallworth and I are overwhelmed by the incredible donations we receive.

Today we were hanging Kate Sylvester, NOM*d, Trelise Cooper, WORLD, Zambesi and so much more. This year we have also introduced a vintage section that has some truly iconic pieces that take you back. I think a few of those pieces would have to be among my favs. We have the largest selection of shoes yet, and available in all sizes. 

More than 3000 individual items of clothing have been donated to the fundraising event

3. That sounds like a lot of cool stuff. Just how many clothes do you have? We have more than 3000 clothes hangers, so at the very least that much. We have taken over the entire La Mer Lounge at New Plymouth Raceway! We have a huge range of everyday and work wear, as well as our boutique and vintage areas.

What is your absolute favourite thing in your wardrobe, where did you get it, and why do you love it?
One of my favs is a black top by Chocolat that I actually brought myself at last years Pop-Up Shop. The style is very soft and its has pleats and ties that make it a little bit different. I like seeing items that are a little bit edgy, I find them interesting.

How much money do you hope to raise, and what will it be used for?  
Last year we made just over $24,000 before expenses, and it would be brilliant to be able to top that.

We are not fully funded so in the first instance the money raised goes towards covering the costs of providing our core services; such as crisis support services, intensive counselling, women’s groups and education.    All of the funds raised from our events got to our local refuge to support local women and children.

There’s also a huge variety of shoes and accessories.

Can you tell us a little bit about the work that Taranaki Women’s Refuge does, and why it is so important?
By now it is widely known that New Zealand has the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world. Taranaki Women’s Refuge works with women who have faced domestic violence to become and remain free from violence.

Besides the services mentioned above we provide an 0800 crisis line which is available at all times, support and advocacy, and a safe house for women and children who need safe and confidential accommodation. 

We also run a men’s programme called ASPIRE. This is for men who want to change the way they think, feel and behave in relationships, and as well as that – emergency housing for families who are homeless, and we are currently running a pilot programme working with children who have been effected by domestic violence. 

In short, without raising funds by hosting events we quite simply would not be able to provide the services we do.

Suzanne Wallworth, left, and Shona Smith, right, have been busy organising the Pop-Up Clothing event. they have been helped by a team of about 40 vounteers.

Do you have any advice for how to help a loved one who may be affected by abuse? 
This is advice from our brilliant, experienced social workers:
“Be there for them and carefully listen to what they are saying. Keep the lines of communication open for them so they know they can contact you at any time. Try not to judge them, especially if they are not ready to leave just yet. This decision has to come from them and it is helpful if you can support their choices. Reassure them and be informed as to who they can contact for professional support, as it is hard to think in a crisis.”

This event will raise a lot of money for some very important work. How much time, effort and people power goes into it? 
It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort but team work is key.  Suzanne and I work really well together, we each have our strengths and play to those. 

There is absolutely no way we could get the shop off the ground without the very many volunteers who help us with everything from pick ups through to washing and hanging clothes. We have between 30 to 40 volunteers. I wouldn’t like to guess how many hours it takes, but I know that it is value held in many ways.

What’s the best thing about this fundraising event? 
The stories – every year there are so many wonderful stories based around experiences, history of garments, personal difficulties and triumphs and a whole heap of humanity. It really is quite an awesome thing to be part of.

And the finds – the look on a woman’s face when she tries on a garment and it makes her feel amazing!

    Taranaki Women’s Refuge Pop-Up Pre-Loved Clothing Sale
    New Plymouth Racecourse – La Mer Lounge 
    Pre-Sale Friday June 21 6pm – 9pm ($10 entry Friday only)
    Saturday June 22 – Sunday June 30
    Weekdays 9am – 4pm
    Saturday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
    Free Entry