NOT many people walking through Worksop town centre would probably be able to tell you much about a charity called Debra.
And yet many of them will have contributed to the vital research work it does.
The charity has a shop on Bridge Place which has just celebrated its first birthday, raising funds for people suffering from a rare genetic skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa.
The founder was Phyllis Hilton, whose daughter Debra died from the disorder at the age of 17.
Sarah Newton is assistant manager of the shop. She said: “We are a small charity but we are trying to expand and to raise our profile.”
“We are doing ok with the Worksop shop but we are looking for more donations.”
“We could always do with more shoes and handbags, especially men’s shoes.”
“We will sell pretty much anything, including electrical stuff once it has been PAT tested, and furniture, which we can collect and deliver.”
Debra is also an acronym for Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association.
Sarah, of Worksop, explained that in EB sufferers the ‘velcro’ that normally exists between the layers of the skin doesn’t work, so the slightest touch can make the skin blister and bleed.
“Even a stiff breeze can do it. It can also affect the inside of the mouth,” she said.
“It can be treated but it can’t be cured. We help to fund research to try to isolate and repair the gene that causes EB.”
She said that some people with the simplex form might just have their hands and feet affected and be able to treat it with salves, but others could have it all over their body and have to be bandaged up and have specialist nursing care.
Volunteers at the shop range in age from 17 to 75.
Ann Woodward, of Worksop, has been volunteering since May. She said: “I decided to volunteer after reading in a magazine about Debra and it broke my heart to see this little girl with the condition.”
“I enjoy coming in because everyone is always cheery. I like to work in the back sorting through the clothes.”
Cam from Hodthorpe, who didn’t want to give his surname, started as a volunteer in February as part of a Government scheme to try to get people who were out of work into jobs.
The 23-year-old said: “I’ve decided to stay on because I enjoy it, they are wonderful people and it’s a good cause.”
Sarah said they have linked up with autism charity Norsaca and users of its services work in the shop with their carers.
Several of the staff, including Sarah, have done an NVQ level 2 in retail and customer services.
She said: “It’s good experience for anyone who wants to try for a job in retail.”
Clothes are displayed in colour groupings and special attention is paid to the shop window.
“Shopping in charity shops used to be seen as a bit taboo, but now it’s almost seen as fashionable to do it,” said Sarah.
“We get high end designer clothes still with the tags on and you can always pick up a bargain. At the moment we’ve got a Diesel jumper for £4.50 and a leather jacket for £10.”
For more information about volunteering or making donations call the shop on 472551.