Chance to do their bit pulls in shoppers

The Guardian, London/July 8, 1993
By Ian Katz and Tom Sharratt

"Third World Charity Shop," proclaims a bold banner at the front of the Humana shop In Kilburn, north London. "Quality second-hand clothes. 8,000 items in stock."

Inside, lunchtime shoppers were busily browsing yesterday among rows of used shirts, jackets and trousers displayed neatly under bright lights and costing between £1 and £15.

"They are very nice and kind in there," said Elizabeth Delaney, a local resident. "I like it because it's a charity and the clothes are good. It's important to support groups like Oxfam." I nformed that less than 10 per cent of the money taken at Humana's tills ends up as charitable donations, she said: "That's wrong. If it says it's a charity it should give its money to charity."

"That's bloody outrageous," said Amanda Fakhri, who had just bought a dress for £4. "If I knew that, I wouldn't have gone in."

A Catholic missionary from Cameroon queried who the charity thought it was helping. "We rarely hear of these charities in Africa and I wonder which countries they work in."

Not all customers were critical. John Emmanuel said: "They have to pay people who work for them. There are so many people unemployed it is right they should give decent wages."

At the entrance a large poster advertises the work of the educational group Tvind, of Denmark. "Look all teenagers! Take one year at a European boarding school in Denmark. Share your life with people your own age."

Other posters sport the heading "Humana child aid". One shows children huddled on a barren field above the words: "In the afternoon they have different tasks, for instance sawing for vegetables and cleaning for garbage In the village (sic)."

A framed chart above the till claims that this year Humana Is donating funds to children In Borneo, Yugoslavian refugees in Hungary, orphans in Angola, and foster families in St. Lucia.

Henna Henson, the Danish manager of the Kilburn branch, refused to comment on Humana's track record but did say it was incorrect that lees than 10 per cent of the charity's turnover went on donations. Caroline Krogh, a Danish volunteer shop assistant, said she had witnessed Humana's work In Africa. "We do a lot to help African children and orphans," she said.

A former Humana employee who worked for three years behind the tills told a different story. "I am 100 per cent certain on my kids' life that a lot of the money never got to the charity."

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