“Shop your heart out, leave with nothing, feel the love”
There’s no better time of year to think of others less fortunate than ourselves, especially those displaced from their homes around the world. Turn any seasonal guilt you might feel into an act of goodwill and visit Choose Love on Fouberts Place, back for a second round, after a hugely successful inaugural year in 2017, in both London and New York.
Choose Love – run by Help Refugees, a refugee charity with minimal overheads and maximum impact, which goes “where the need is greatest” – invites visitors to “shop your heart out, leave with nothing, and feel the love”. Split into three sections, each area explores a different stage of a refugee’s journey, from Survival (emergency blankets, warm clothing and food) to Shelter (tents, sleeping bags and hygiene packs) and Future (educational materials, a dictionary and keys to a home). The items on sale range from £4.99 to £499: an option to ‘buy the store’.
There’s everything from solar lamps, school bags, phone credit and sleeping bags to meals, children’s shoes, coats and gloves – last year the store raised £750,000 and this included 100,000 essentials for babies and children including 77,000 packs of nappies. New for this year are ‘bundles’ of items, to help people with specific needs, such as mothers and babies, or vulnerable women. Josie Naughton CEO of Help Refugees says that, last Christmas, “the shop became a beacon of compassion in the heart of central London. Choose Love helped people from all walks of life feel empathy for refugees – and do something practical to help.”
The store itself is two floors of bright and welcoming space, designed by creative collective Glimpse, whose mission is to use creativity for good. James Turner, co-founder of Glimpse, explained that “with all the hype around Black Friday and Christmas shopping, we wanted to try something very different. Instead of gadgets and jeans, what would happen if we sold basic items that could make a real difference to someone’s life? I think most of us want to be generous and find ways to help. This is about creating a new space for people to do just that.”
The launch party was attended by supporters Suki Waterhouse, Daisy Lowe, Steve Coogan and Vick Hope, and everyone from Nick Grimshaw to Clara Paget has been pounding Carnaby Street, placards in hand, to promote the pop-up, also frequented by Dawn O'Porter and Rose McGowan.
For those not able to get to the store, head online to read the stories of the people you will help and shop via the website (at the bottom of this article).
People far from home, like this little girl, will stay warm this winter because of you.
Choose Love London, 30-32 Fouberts Place, Carnaby, London, W1F 7PS, Monday - Saturday 11am – 6pm, Sunday 12-6pm, until January 2019, choose.love