Back To School With FARA
Tackling Poverty Through Education - Florentina's Story

The start of the new academic year is an important time of year for FARA Charity. In the deeply rural district of Suceava in northern Romania whole communities struggle to find regular work. Many parents travel long distances to look for employment particularly at this harvest time. Life is tough. The school dropout rates are very high in this area. Kids schoolwork takes second place to household chores. FARA’s Tackling Poverty Through Education programme was set up to support children’s attendance at school. With every year of education achieved, the chances of a child ending up in poverty reduce by 5%.

The second youngest of seven children, nine year old Florentina often finds herself in charge of her little sister. Her mother and older siblings are at work in local vineyards and harvesting vegetables to provide the family with a meager income. They are often away for days on end. Florentina’s older sisters gave up going to school as they didn’t have room at home to study or do their homework. Florentina’s mother is opposed to her going to school because she believes it will not bring her financial gain in the future – which is hard as Florentina loves school and participating in FARA’s after school activities where she gets help with reading and plays games with other children.

75% of children on FARA’s Tackling Poverty Through Education programme live in one-room houses without electricity or clean water with up to nine other family members. 50% of children have parents who didn’t attend school and are illiterate.
25% of children on FARA’s programme are cared for by their grandmothers.

In October, this year 250 children will start their new school term supported by FARA. This means a daily hot meal served at school, school equipment and books, regularly attending homework clubs and receiving support with learning and a social worker to oversee the whole family’s wellbeing.

With FARA’s support Florentina regularly attend school last year. She passed all her end-of-year exams and completed her first grade. Florentina enjoys being at school and is a quick learner. She is a cheerful girl who loves her teachers very much and despite family pressures she is committed to her education. FARA’s programme manager in Romania reports that

“She would love to have a new schoolbag and some new shoes so she doesn’t have to use the well-worn ones her big sister has passed on to her.”

Please continue to support FARA so more children like Florentina can start the new school year with all they need and help give them a chance to gain a full education and the promise of a poverty-free future.

Find out more about FARA’s programmes visit

If Video Killed the Radio Star...
Digital threat to the DVD

Just as video once killed the radio star, it seems the digital world is now preparing to push the DVD off the cliff. Last year digital sales of films and television shows overtook DVD and Blu-ray sales for the first time, subscription services such as Netflix, Apple’s iTunes and Amazon Video are gaining subscribers at a growing pace. This has mirrored an increase in donations of DVDs to FARA shops, so the question is: what to do with the DVD?

The total UK revenue from music, TV shows, films and video games hit a record high of £6.3bn last year, with digital sales and streaming services overtaking sales of physical DVDs and Blu-rays. 2016 saw the number of UK subscribers to Netflix alone rise to six million users, with other services such as Amazon Video steadily on the rise. This has led to the collapse of the DVD, following in the footsteps of the VHS it once replaced. The good news about this is that FARA has received a rising number of DVD donations. In these times of austerity our donation levels have taken a tough hit, but DVD and Blu-ray donations look to continue to rise as the digital world further penetrates the home entertainment industry. So why should you pick up a DVD from your local FARA shop?

In recent years DVDs and Blu-rays have become something of a collector’s item, with avid film fans hoarding hundreds of the discs in their collections. Many argue that owning the physical disk is far more satisfying than online downloads, with the often, beautiful cover art and ability to display your collection. Our FARA shops hold a wide range of DVDs, with everything from cult TV classics and blockbuster hits, to niche, more hard to find films and TV shows. Plus, our thirteen dedicated FARA Kids stores stock a selection of children’s films, TV shows and educational DVDs. With new DVDs costing around £10, and Blu-rays often costing up to £20, shopping at FARA will also save you money when purchasing your next film or boxset. Save yourself the fortune of cinema tickets and have a nice night in in the comfort of your own home.

DVDs, CDs and even floppy disks have also been turned into artwork. The artist Nick Gentry uses these often unwanted materials to produce a dialogue between the analogue and the digital, representing the rapid changes in entertainment technology that have taken place in recent decades. His paintings question the relationship between the created world and reality, his portraits symbolising the fusing of the human and the digital in the contemporary technological age. Maybe your next art project should consist of some DVDs from your local FARA!

We’re witnessing similar trends in music sales, with digital music streaming services, such as Spotify, rapidly overtaking physical CD sales. However, the rapid growth of vinyl seems to be (albeit only slightly) offsetting this trend. This year’s national Record Store Day saw vinyl sales reach record highs, with David Bowie and The Smiths topping the UK vinyl sale charts. In our shops we have had a mass influx of vinyl, with hundreds of records being donated and sold for great prices. Much of the recent growth in vinyl has been put down to its (highly debated) superior sound quality over digital music production. Industry experts seem to suggest we may see a similar trend with ultra HD Blu-ray sales, the discs able to produce a far better picture quality than streaming services due to often weak home broadband strengths.

So, whether you’re a budding artist looking for a new media, an avid film connoisseur or lover of beautiful visual quality, head down to your local FARA shop to snap up DVDs and Blu-rays of classic films, TV box sets and recent blockbuster hits.

Festival Fashion with FARA

This weekend marks the beginning of the festival season with the iconic Glastonbury festival. Whether you’re eagerly awaiting Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance at Glasto, searching for that perfect outfit for Reading, or preparing the kids for a fun packed festival weekend, FARA is the place to shop the festival look.

In the build up to the summer season high street shops are packed full with “festival essentials”, with everything from waterproofs to bum bags to wellies. But instead of rocking up in the same mac as every other festival goer – stand out in the crowd by grabbing something truly unique from your local FARA. Not only will you find ‘one of a kind’ items to wow your friends with, but you’ll be helping the environment too. According to the WWF, it can take up to 2700 litres of water just to produce one cotton t-shirt, let alone the amount of pollution produced in the production of wellies and waterproofs. Buying second hand clothes therefore has many environmental benefits, not only securing you a distinctive style but also lowering your carbon footprint!

If you do want to shop vintage for your unique look shop then head straight to FARA’s Retromania London store in Pimlico. This specialist shop is stocked entirely with vintage pieces and iconic designer clothing and accessories donated to FARA. It is an emporium of style that will certainly provide you with something amazing to wear for that much sought after festival look. If it is 80’s/90’s retro chic you are after our FARA shop in Angel, Islington stocks a wide range of quirky, fun retro clothing for all ages and sizes, as well as broken designer and cheap high street items with friendly staff to help you with any requests. And for the little ones, FARA Kids shops stock a wide range of children’s clothing and shoes, ensuring the whole family look their best this summer. Our Kids shop in Pimlico was recently named one of the best charity shops in London by the Evening Standard so is definitely worth a visit!

When you shop at FARA be assured your spending is doing good. FARA shops are the lifeline of the FARA Foundation, their revenues ensuring the charity can continue its vitally needed services for children and young people in Romania. Not only do charity shops allow a bit of sin free shopping, but are often far cheaper than clothing retailers, meaning more money left over for those expensive festival food and drink vendors.

When you’re looking for the perfect outfit this summer think FARA for all your festival needs.

London To Bucharest Cycle Ride

Setting off at the end of April, Alex Alexandrescu and Silviu Chirila decided to set themselves a challenge: a cycle trip from London to Bucharest in aid of the FARA foundation.

The pair, who have known each other since high school, decided to take on the challenge in May 2016, spending a year fundraising, training, and planning their incredible 3000km route. After growing up in Bucharest, both attended university in the UK- hence their chosen route from London to their home of Romania. Their fundraising page states that in the face of changing “public sentiment regarding open borders and free movement”, they knew this could be one of their last chances to tackle the adventure.

Wanting to make this journey meaningful for others too, they decided to team up with us at FARA, asking friends, family and supporters of the charity to sponsor their cycle ride. Alex and Silviu wanted to support a charity that operated in Romania, and FARA was their first choice. Recognising the importance of education as a “prerequisite to unity and agreement across Europe”, they felt the work of FARA in both education and social support in Romania aligned perfectly with their views. Their initial aim was to raise £1500, smashing that target by the end of their trip to raise over £2600. Along their journey to Bucharest the pair aimed to meet as many people as possible, updating their friends, family and donors of their adventures through their Facebook page.

Getting off to a bumpy start cycling from the Houses of Parliament to Dover, the pair crossed the channel by ferry and cycled up through Belgium to Bruges; “Belgium is at a totally different level in terms of cycling to anything we’ve seen so far. Dedicated cycle lanes, cycle roads next to all canals, and considerate drivers”. They didn’t have much time to enjoy the wide range of beers on offer in Bruges, however, as the following day they planned to cycle the huge 150km to Rotterdam. After another day of beautiful villages, picturesque windmills and friendly passers-by, the pair arrived in Rotterdam and stayed with friends overnight.

After leaving the Netherlands, Alex and Silviu spent the next ten days cycling through Germany, sightseeing in Cologne, Bonn and Frankfurt along the way. The pair highly recommend the route between Bonn and Rudesheimer, the most scenic part of their journey, to any fellow cyclists. Videoing the journey on their Go Pro, the pair continued to update their followers with videos as they entered Austria and followed the Danube through Slovakia to Budapest, before starting the final 900 kilometres to Bucharest.

As the pair crossed the Romanian border in the final third of their journey, children from FARA’s family style homes continued to send video messages of support. Using a scratch map donated by the kids excitedly followed the fundraisers’ route across Europe, scratching away a new country each time the pair crossed a border on their journey. The video messages, full of joy and anticipation, powered the cyclists along their route, providing a taster of the warm welcome they were to receive from the FARA family upon arrival in Bucharest.

The day before their arrival, the kids got to work creating banners and posters to welcome their “heroes” in front of the Romanian Palace of Parliament. As Alex and Silviu cycled the final kilometres into Bucharest the sun made a welcome appearance, arriving in the Constitutiei Square with a huge welcome from friends, family and of course the children with their colourful banners. After a welcome rest, the pair gave an interview to Radio Romania about their amazing journey before visiting the excited children at FARA St. Gabriel. The cyclists were presented with the scratch maps used by the children to trace their route, and they showed the kids the bicycles that had got them across Europe.

Alex and Silviu’s journey from the British Parliament to the doors of the Romanian Palace of Parliament not only raised thousands of pounds for the FARA Foundation but symbolised the link between the FARA organisation in London and its work in Bucharest and across the rest of Romania.

Limited edition Fundraising Rock Ts

New children's home and lifestyle brand Honey Rocks London has partnered with FARA to create a collection of limited edition embroidered T-Shirts to mark FARA Shops 25th anniversary in charity retail. Available from Thursday 23rd March at

Embroidered in neon thread on soft grey melange 100% organic cotton, and Fair Wear Foundation Certified, the three limited-edition 'Rock-Ts' are a celebration of Motherhood, the essence of the charity. They feature the fun and empowering slogans Mama Rocks, Girls Rock and Boys Rock.

Each T-shirt sold will fund either a backpack full of educational supplies or a week's worth of hot meals for vulnerable school-aged children from our Tackling Poverty Through Education programme. The campaign aims to raise sufficient funds to equip and feed up to 300 children helping safeguard their education and future.


Shot on location in Peckham in not-for-profit arts organisation Bold Tendencies commission to Simon Whybray called "hi boo i love u"
All the images copyright of Louise Boyce Photography. Styled by Cindefashionrealla.

A heart warming yarn

As with every donation that we graciously receive, there is a story behind each and every garment. Often we wonder when that beautiful embroidered dress was worn last and for what occasion.

Some of our items could have had a short history; an outfit worn just for a party, a half read book that you never got round to finishing or even a pair of shoes that, after one torturous afternoon of hobbling around in, you decided they weren't for you!

However, there are a lot of donations that we receive that are steeped in history. A beloved bag that toured the world with its owner, a dress sewn by and worn by a late grandparent and passed on through generations, your lucky suit that has sealed the deal on more occasions than you can remember. Sometimes we just get unwanted gifts or items that bring back a sad memory (typically post break-up gifts from the ex).

We love listening to stories from donors who tell us the history of the garments they are kindly donating, yet on most occasions we are just left with a bag of donations outside the shop door when we arrive in the morning.

Recently one inquisitive customer at FARA Notting Hill decided to act upon this curiosity and resolved to discover the history of a jumper he bought from the store. The green patterned jumper was clearly old, made of quality Shetland wool and still had plenty of wear left.

Amazingly, after a bit of googling and a couple of emails, he managed to track down Magsie, the lady who knitted the jumper over 30 years ago. Thanks to this research, the story has now appeared on the jumper manufacturer website, which is still operating.

You can read the article at

We would like to thank the customer for bringing this to our attention. If you have a story regarding an item you bought from one of our stores, we would love to hear it!

Good N10 - tions

Every Londoner has a preference when it comes to which part of the river they would rather live in. Culturally the north-south divide has always been quite strong and more recently the east and west are also juxtaposing not just geographically but for lifestyle and demographics. When it comes to green spaces, the South has 34% parks vs a less green north (29%). Domestic gardens also count for 26% in the south vs 20% in the north. This is probably why older people, couple and families seem to prefer the south. And this is reflected by the fact that north London has 21% of people aged 18-30, the south 18%. Specifically, many people decide to set up family in the leafy south west, due to accessibility to schools, wider green areas and lower crime rates.

This is the area where FARA Head Office is located and many of its 46 shops are to be found. Powered by the community spirit and the “villagey feel”, FARA shops thrive due to the local donations and the distinctive atmosphere that is found in these areas. They’re found from Addlestone to Whitton and anywhere in between. FARA relies heavily on the locals for the supply of goods to be sold and it’s very much a great way to recycle within the community - instead of throwing away good items, whilst donating to a good cause. These values are becoming more and more entrenched with the residents of the areas where our shops are located.

This community feeling is very much present in some parts of North London. FARA has four shops there, the successful Islington, Belsize Park and Primrose Hill which have all proved to be a hit in recent years. The latest addition to the family is Muswell Hill.

Muswell Hill was named after the 12th century discovery of a local stream. The ‘Mossy Well’ was believed to have miraculous, healing properties. Brothers Ray and Dave Davies of iconic London band The Kinks were born in Muswell Hill and the lyrics of Village Green Preservation Society reference the comforts of their neighbourhood. It still has a safe village atmosphere and plenty of open space making it somewhat akin to the south west “vibe”. This is another reason why FARA chose to open a shop there in April 2016, along with wanting to create a stronger presence in North London.

It is located opposite the wonderful Everyman Cinema, surrounded by the lovely cafes of the broadway and has a great selection of men and women clothes as well as a selection of retro 80s and 90s items. The new retro section should particularly appeal to the fashion conscious inhabitants of north London.
The opening hours are 10-6 pm. Make sure you pay a visit!

Perks of Charity Shop Work
All the Reasons Why it's Right for You!

Unless you’re a street fundraiser working on commission, it’s common that charity worker’s on the high street are working voluntarily to gain experience or to give something back. In fact, most charity shop workers are achieving both of these things and getting paid at the same time, usually for the same hourly rate as shop assistants at the likes of H&M and Zara.

That’s right, the same pay and without the stress of working for a cooperation where young workers often feel like a cog in a machine of what is purely a bureaucratic profit making scheme. The pressure of working for a retail giant with daily, weekly and quarterly targets is not left to bare weight on your shoulders in the charity sector; you simply have to be kind and helpful to customers and the sales will take care of themselves.

The flexible nature of charity shop work makes it a great part time job for young people and students looking to earn an extra few quid. There has been a lot of bad press of late about 0 hour contracts but for the youngster among us, the flexibility of ‘no strings attached’ contracts is far more preferable. Whether you are studying for a degree, or working on your new start-up business, you have free reign to decide your hours depending on your work load.

Another added benefit lies within the shop itself. You have first dibs on all the donations that come through the door and for a discounted price! You’ll spend a fraction of what you usually would on clothes, accessories and household items; perfect for uni students and young people looking to fill their wardrobes and homes on a tight budget. Get the same feeling of excitement with your new purchases whilst fulfilling your consumerist needs guilt free.

All of this aside, charity work also gives you the self-fulfillment of working to raise funds and a awareness for a great cause which in itself can be enough motivation to push you through the working day. At FARA, we have many paid and voluntary vacancies that you can read about on our jobs page:

We are always looking for new recruits to join the FARA team!

Reflections on my First Trip to Romania

It was my first trip to Romania and nothing could have prepared me for the breath taking beauty and calm of the mountains and vast fields split into strips of planting like a striped jumper. Nestled into the bottom of a valley is Cacica a pretty town made up of wooden houses set in gardens full of apple trees. This was where we would be staying, we arrived in the dark but early the next morning I was woken by the sound of horses trotting up the road pulling the carts to the fields to harvest the maize.

This all sounds idyllic, but, the reality of a life lived hand to mouth on the land is a tough one. As we drove to visit the villages around the town Falticeni I noticed the factory chimneys are no longer smoking and the buildings are turning to rubble with broken windows and rusting containers sitting in empty yards. The industry had stopped when Communism left Romania and the people lost their jobs and security in this city too. Many people are struggling to find work and families are breaking down as parents travel further afield to find employment.

The FARA foundation has been helping families in the forgotten villages around the town over the last few years. Andreea is an extraordinarily committed project manager of the Tackling Poverty Through Education programmes, who came back early from her honeymoon to show myself and Raphe FARA’s Managing Director around. At Bahna Arini we arrived just as lunch was being delivered and the children were washing their hands and sitting up at their tidy desks waiting for their food. It is a tiny school crammed full of smiling children who seem happy to be there. On the walls are maps of the world and autumnal leaf pictures and on the cupboard there is a wonderful pig made from a cabbage. The children eat bowls of soup, sausages, polenta and green cabbage followed by a rosy red apple.

I spot Alexandra a little girl who has been on the project for almost a year and was found by Andreea in the street with her house key around her neck. She had been left to fend for herself while her grandmother and parents were away looking for work in the fields surrounding the village. I recognised the little girl from the photograph Andreea took when she found her and now she has a happy, healthy glow.

My trip to Romania really brought home to me how difficult life is for so many children and how a little care and attention gives a child the belief that they are worthy of a different life, a better life which can be achieved by getting an education and changing the cycle of poverty.

For myself and many living in the UK life can seem at times difficult with pressures of modern living piling up. But we usually have food on our tables, we have a benefits and support system to help those who need it. Sometimes I may have to tighten the belt to get to the end of the month, but it is not quite the same as trying to feed 5 mouths until the end of the month with the last few cabbages I harvested at the end of the summer.

FARA charity is A Family for those Without and following my visit to the projects run in Romania by dedicated, caring and loving staff, I can see how a family can be so much more than two parents and their children. A family is a system of care and kindness for all humanity without exclusion and FARA Romania is showing us how it can be done, and be a success. If you would like to be part of the FARA family and help the children in the villages then we would love you to become a child sponsor.

Follow the link to the Charity website and help grow our Family for those without:

New TOTES FOR EVERYONE 2016 Collection
The Story Behind the Bags

FARA launches the latest range of TOTES FOR EVERYONE in selected FARA shops* and online from Thursday 24th November. This is the story behind these beautifully designed and rather virtuous bags that are TOTALLY made in London from fabric donated to FARA Charity Shops by women in prison.

Money from the sale of the totes and purses will contribute towards FARA’s outreach scheme to help disadvantaged young women develop parenting and life skills which is a part of FARA’s internationally accredited FOYER training programme. Since FARA launched the TOTES FOR EVERYONE in late April 2016 funds raised have helped to set up a pilot project in Bucharest. The Community Corner is at present supporting seven young mothers with guidance and information in creating a safe and nurturing home for their young families – everything from parenting skills, health support, living and accommodation advice.

Carmen Pop, leader at FARA’s FOYER centre said: “The most important objective for us is for them to understand how to raise and, of course love their children unconditionally.”

The women prisoners who made the bags for FARA attend a Fashion and Manufacturing Unit, a social enterprise set up by the London College of Fashion, UAL and the Ministry of Justice. The Unit was set up not only not only to help with offender reintegration into society on release, but also to fill a recognised skills gap in UK fashion manufacturing.

“When I came into the Unit I really wanted to learn a new skill as I had never had a job or worked before. I couldn’t read or write and so I was attracted to fashion manufacturing as it was a practical skill. After only 6 months I’ve really started to pick this up and I am now determined to work in this area when I get out. My mum was ‘a sewer’ and I can really see a future in this for me. I have a few years left in prison and so I intend to take in and learn as much as I can to help me when I am released.” Patricia

Professor Frances Corner OBE, Head of London College of Fashion and Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Arts London said “As Head of London College of Fashion i have a long standing commitment to working with the National Offender Management Service and know that education is a key factor in the rehabilitation process and keeping people out of prison. Social enterprises such as ours give individuals a chance to become independent and contribute to society in a more positive way.”

Of the collaboration with FARA Charity Shops she said:
“I always love seeing projects that combine fashionable design and social responsibility and this scheme we undertook with charity FARA is exactly that.” Read the full article here

Buy TOTES FOR EVERYONE online now at

*available in FARA shops in Chiswick, /Clapham, New Kings Road, Richmond Bridge, Notting Hill, Islington, Muswell Hill and Belsize Park.

Seasonal styling from FARA Notting Hill

Whilst we are enjoying the last blast of Summer, here at FARA Notting Hill we are getting ready for the next season and all the amazing trends that we are stocking up on.

This autumn winter lends itself well to transitional dressing. A lot of the summer trends still feature heavily in the next season.

In particular ruffles are still big news. Whilst summer was all about elegant well placed ruffles, autumn winter is about being engulfed in them! More is more- think Maison Margiela Haute Couture custom made Cape that Rihanna is photographed wearing in W magazines September editorial.

Whilst JW Anderson and John Galliano's Margiela may be championing the ruffles on the catwalk we'll definitely be looking for high street gems from the likes of Cos and Topshop. And for the more style savvy, creating the hot of the catwalk looks will be about the clever layering of ruffles and frills in contrasting materials and colours. Come in store and play dress up until you get the best selection of separates to create your perfect outfit.

On the opposite end of the spectrum Dries Van Noten have hit the nail on the head this A/W, fusing the boudoir and goth goddess trends of summer. As the nights get colder we will be teaming our silk slip dresses we have loved so much this season with oversized masculine tailoring in velvet and heavy brocades, or going all out in almost cartoonish floor length wool coats. When shopping this trend, we will be going straight past the ladies clothing and heading for the men's- why should they have all the best blazers!

Geek chic morphs itself into Heritage dressing. Tweed and checks are big news, and in this case, the more contrasting the better. This trend has very masculine influences with Ralph Lauren making the trend very androgynous, whilst Miu Miu and Jacquemus opt for clinching coats and dresses in at the waist to create a very feminine silhouette.

Other trends and styles to look out for are leopard and jaguar spots- on absolutely everything! Velvet, in deep autumnal colours, or take influence from the likes of Armani and Preen with velvet in acid brights. Puffa jackets and bomber jackets will serve the purpose of not only keeping you warm as the temperature drops but are an instant update to your winter wardrobe. Don't be afraid to go BIG, try on multiple sizes; Rick Owens and Balenciaga literally cocooned their models in puffa coats.

Keep your accessories quirky. Do clash your accessories with your outfit, adorn everything and anything with broaches. Jewellery should be big and hats are a must.

Happy shopping, and if ever you're in Notting Hill do come visit us on Elgin Crescent.

There is always a story behind a donation, that makes us wonder......

There is always a story behind a donation, that makes us wonder......

What about that beautiful silky dress that is in amazing condition, probably worn just once? Didn't it fit the person anymore?
And what about the book about the love found in a hopeless place? Did the donor of the book find the love and wants to pass on the message?
And what about the perfume, still nicely wrapped? Was it an unwanted present? And the pair of heels replaced by a pair of converse?
Change of style and change of life?
And the record that is badly scratched.........has it made many people "shut up and dance"?
Whatever the reason…everything that is kindly donated will find a new lease of life through our shop.

When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING!
If you don't believe it, come and have a look at our beautiful unique shop, where picture frames become a way to display some shoes and the old top hats become lights.
It's all about being creative. That's why whatever comes through the door is inspiring. Old colourful zips become a background display curtain. Wheels from an old broken bicycle, donated by a guy who still felt very attached to it when he let it go, become a rack for ties and shoes......
And even a fridge becomes a little wardrobe, where we display accessories, shoes and books, to keep them very cool!!! :-)

Every time it's exciting to discover what sort of items people are donating. We know that everything given, no matter the condition, means a lot to the person that once owned it, that's why we try to expose their goodies in an eye catching way and to let them find a new loving home as soon as possible.

If you think that your beloved chair in the corner of your bedroom is not needed anymore....
Bring it to us....
What are you waiting for?
Don't feel sad about letting it go. We will be pleased, we won't say no!!!!

FARA Belsize Park, 204 Taverstock Hill, NW3 2AG – open 10am-6pm every day.

The Fairies of Primrose Hill

Legend says that once upon a time fairies used to live inside the Primroses on Primrose Hill. From there they sprinkled fairy dust on children passing by making their wishes come true.

Believe in fairies or not, you can you still find a place in the heart of Primrose Hill where your wishes can come true!

It is a little shop with a special sign to make you smile. Not far from the park, where you can rest your tired feet from a stroll whilst looking for amazing little treasure.

There you can find that designer dress perfect for your little girl. Or maybe a fancy jacket for your not so little rascal. If it's your lucky day you could find some toys that really resemble the ones you used to play with when you were little. Or just the latest super cool that your children were looking for.

In this shop you will fall in love with a good selection of clothes, toys, books and everything to help take care of your precious little ones.

While they play in the shop you can look for something unique and be helped by the friendly staff or have a chat with the other parents around. The store is the perfect place to shop while you are waiting for your friends or if you are on your way back from the playground. Or if you need an emergency pair of pants.

If you are looking for a nice present, the team will help you find something brand new or the special treasure that was waiting for you after a lifetime of adventures with its previous owner.

It's rare to leave the shop without a smile because of your new find or just because your kids have found a new toy to make adventures with.

At 6 o'clock the shop goes to sleep and the fairies come out and start their busy work to fill up the shop with more goodies for the very next day.


Are you a comic book fan? Do you enjoy reading and collecting these fantastic graphical novels? Recently we received an amazing donation of comic books ranging from old to new from popular well known titles like Image, Avatar, Vertigo and many more. Each issue is being sold at a retail price of 80 pence, What a bargain!

Comic books were first popularised in the 1930’s and have become a huge collectable commodity. Vintage and signed editions as well as first editions make great collectable items as most are rare and higher in value. A few weeks ago we successfully sold an Eisner award winning copy of 1988’s Batman, The Killing Joke which happened to be a one of the first ever printed editions.

So once again we have our hands on some exclusive signed copies which is now available on FARA’s online shop. These signed copies are exclusive first editions, in mint condition and all ready to add to your collection. We have four boxes of comics left at FARA Books in Teddington, so come on down and grab a few today.


For some of us reading is a hobby that we love to do all year round but for a lot of us our enthusiasm to read begins in summer, quite similar to our compulsion to play tennis and drink Pimms the moment we are graced with a flicker of sunlight. For our younger generation, however, it’s quite the polar opposite. As soon as schools break up for summer, books are left to gather dust and their brains are left to dwindle until they are dropped back into class at the start of September.

The Big Friendly Read 2016 is an initiative that aims to keep children reading over the summer break. It encourages kids aged 4 to 11 years to create their own profile, engage in online games and receive prizes by taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge. The website offers a way for both kids and parents to track their progress. Get started with the Summer Reading Challenge here:

Keeping your kids reading over summer is a great way to make sure their brain stays active, but buying a selection of books for both yourself and your children can become rather expensive. Shopping for pre-owned books is a lot cheaper and can leave you with a little bit extra cash, just about enough to justify a leisurely lunch and a glass of vino. There’s also the chance of finding hidden gems that you’ve always hoped to stumble upon.

FARA shops are supporting the initiative by offering 3 for 2 on children’s books at all of our shops. And so you grown-ups don’t feel left out, we are offering 3 for 2 on all other books too until the 31st July! So whether you’re on a beach in the South of France, relaxing at a rooftop bar in Barcelona, or watching the world go by in a picturesque London park, make sure you have a great selection of books to keep both you and the kids occupied through the summer months.

A day in the life of a FARA Shop Team

I wanted to tell you all about how our FARA shop on Chatham Road, SW11 is involved day by day in it's local community.

We all enjoy what we are doing here and every morning begins with a cup of coffee!

We often have regular customers waiting to get through the door for the best bargains and they are welcomed with a warm smile. FARA is more than just a shop, socialising with our team and other FARA-lovers as well as cuddles from the shop's favourite dogs is all part of the experience. Who could say no to such a day?

We don't charge for a smile and everyone is welcome, from yummy mummies and cheeky children, to local teachers and handsome builders, to nannies and dog walkers, to fashionistas and business men; no one leaves empty handed. I swear, its an addiction - wouldn't you want to have this in your wardrobe?

You would never believe how often we hear "is this really a charity shop?" and this is all down to the hard work the team put in to keep the shop looking fabulous. Our work is made worthwhile when things such as new window displays, colour coordinated rails, and new-in clothes depending on the latest fashion trends are praised by our customers.

The best part of it all is that we have the freedom to express ourselves and be creative. Every day is different in here, you never know what the day will bring: surprising donations, interesting customers who always cheer you up and lots of laughter from our team .

So if you ever feel blue , or have nothing to wear, come to see us.

FARA, 70 Chatham Road, SW11 6HG

Iconic London at FARA
Love FARA shops, love FARA pARTnerships

At FARA we are always open to engaging in collaborations with innovative projects as well as creative individuals. Having previously built a working relationship with both the London College of Fashion and HMP Manufacturing Unit through a project for The FARA Workshop, in 2016 we have again teamed up to launch a range of limited edition
tote bags; read more about our tote bags here:

Our most recent venture is a collaboration with local artist Steve Forde of 4D Art at our shop just off Northcote Road, SW11. The partnership is mutually beneficial; Steve said “instead of giving a large chunk of my sales proceeds to a gallery, I would rather see that money go to a worthwhile charity such as FARA. Their shop on Northcote Road is the ideal showcase, as it is near to where I live, and they had some under-utilised windows that I have turned into a mini exhibition of my latest works.”

These artworks depict some of London’s finest architectural gems. Each one is recreated in meticulous detail using laser-cut and engraved wood and Perspex. The laser cut wood is layered to create a 3-dimensional effect, then mounted onto a coloured Perspex background with a solid MDF backing. Each piece begins life as a detailed architectural drawing, and fine details such as brickwork and intricate fretwork can be seen. Steve Forde lives and works in South London and is the main artist behind 4D Art. Speaking about his work he said, "As a designer I am obsessed with detail, technique and quality of finish. In these artworks I have married this obsession with my lifelong passion for architectural form, line and detail. The results are striking, detailed pieces that reinterpret complex architectural forms into warm, wall-friendly art.”

Visit our shop at 70 Chatham Road to see Steve’s artwork being showcased and sold onsite. You can also take a little peak at the ‘Banksy’ mural which mysteriously appeared on our side wall in October 2014 causing a momentary media frenzy.

London Collection: Men

London Collections: Men is a biannual event showcasing the creative and commercial importance of the British menswear industry. LCM SS17 started on Thursday 9th June and ran through the weekend until Monday. LCM first began in 2012 off the back of London Fashion Week, sparked by the debate that men’s fashion was still in the shadow of women’s fashion. In recent years, renowned designers have collaborated their womenswear and menswear into the same show. Critics say this is an example of Women’s fashions attempt to drag menswear up to the same level; whereas many industry leaders believe these collaborations demonstrate that menswear is considered as just as important and exemplifies how the contrasting gender collections can complement each other. The latter argument is also backed by the fact LCM has progressed from a one day event to a four day event since 2012.

However, that’s not to say menswear has only just sprung to life in London, some of the most iconic men’s trends began in the big smoke. Tailored suits were born out of Savile Row in the late 18th century, bowler hats rose to the top in 1849 and brogues have walked the streets since the 1700s. Many world-renowned brands such as Burberry and Paul Smith are great examples of how Men’s Fashion has grown and thrived in the capital. “Across the world it [London] is known for its innovative retailing and hybrid sense of style; a vivid expression of its rich fashion heritage” as described by Keren Protheroe in the writer’s London: Home of Menswear journal.

These menswear successes offer great encouragement to exciting up & coming designers who can use trends such as the success of Floral in the 60s, Punk in the 70s and the New Romantic Movement in the 80s as inspiration for their creative innovations in the future. This history and heritage inspired trends such as floral prints, the neckerchief and baggy trousers to be the highlights of LCM SS16.

At FARA we have used clothes donated to our shops to reinvent trends from LCM SS16 that can be worn now and through the summer. We’ve also created outfits from the most recent SS17 collections to show how you can use clothes from FARA to work the look as the models for a fraction of the price. Look at out FARA Men SS17 look book on Facebook here

Blooming Marvellous
Florals at FARA for London In Bloom

The RHS Chelsea Flower show is held annually in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in late May (24th-28th May 2016). For just five days the space, no more than a couple of football pitches in size, turns into a horticultural wonderland buzzing with thousands of green fingered enthusiasts, not to mention a plethora of other insects and local Chelsea fauna! It is one of those quintessentially English events that launches London firmly into bloom.

This year FARA shops have fully embraced the opportunity to support the London In Bloom campaign which ‘celebrates the efforts of London Boroughs, communities, businesses and individuals who do so much to make London a special place to live, work and visit.’ FARA Shops are currently brimming full of blooms with flowers kindly donated by local florists and supermarkets as well as floral items of every description given to us by our lovely community!

Floral decoration never seems to go out of fashion – the versatility of floral prints means we will always be wrapped in material meadows, swathed in summer bouquets and dressed in tropical jungles.

Since the earliest days of civilisation humans have used floral decorations whether they are living blooms, dried out plant materials or artificial facsimile to embellish their environment and persons. From the heights of the sophistication of Japanese flower arranging, through ceremonial garlands and wreaths to flowers just thrown into a vase.
Throughout history our fascination with all things floral has never waned. Each century brings its own flower fad. For example, during the Dutch economic collapse in the 17th century, ‘Tulipmania’ brought about inflated contract prices for tulip bulbs leading to an inevitable crash. From this emerged the development of artificial flowers; fake flowers made of paper, silk and other materials. The 18th century saw the art of floral composition in painting progress as seen in the work of Dutch still life painters such as Jan Van Huysum. 19th century clipper ships brought exotic new species from China such as chrysanthemums, rhododendrons and azaleas; from South Africa the gladiolus and freesia and from Mexico the dahlia and fuchsia to delight the European elite.

Even the most ordinary of floral fabrics such as chintz started off as a prize commodity – first developed in the Far East where ornate floral designs were sold to European traders for high prices in the 1600s. Designs were copied and mass produced in India and imported to England and by 1680 more than a million pieces of chintz were imported a year to England, France and Holland… Its unbelievable popularity became of such grave concern for English and French mills who at the time couldn’t make it themselves. Following this, in 1686 the French declared a ban on all chintz imports and in 1720, English parliament outlawed the wearing and use of all chintz! Who would have thought that the wearing of a floral dress could be such a threat to the establishment?

Visit your local FARA shop to choose from a wonderful range of floral designs and look out for London In Bloom window displays in all FARA shops until Sunday 5th June.

Charity Bookshops Are The Most Magical

'Perhaps that is the best way to say it: printed books are magical, and real bookshops keep that magic alive.' Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book.

For any book enthusiast, it goes without saying; bookshops are magical places but I would like to argue that second hand books are even more magical. So what is it that provides that spark of magic? What can charity bookshops offer that regular ones just can't? of course there is the obvious fact that you get a good quality book at a much reduced price. You know that the money you spend is going to a good cause. You've helped the environment by reusing books that would otherwise require new paper (and dead trees!) These are all important benefits in today's world, but for me/many the most magical aspect of a second-hand book are the hidden memories.

When we read used books we often notice their imperfections and peculiarities; folds in pages, highlights, underlinings, tear, foxing, a puppy-chewed corner, light fading, sparkly smiley face stickers plastered on the cover, gigantic smudges and plane tickets from the 90s used as a makeshift bookmark. All these are often seen as undesirable, but as connoisseurs of stories we recognise them as traces of a book's previous life, clues to the book's second story, and if we read them carefully we can begin to construct that story in our imagination.....

Why was this page folded? Could it be something as mundane as an interruption? Or perhaps there was something in the text that spoke to the reader? That smudge looks like it came from a thumb, who would have put it there? It could be dirt, maybe is charcoal - did the book belong to a gardener, a builder or an artist and did they read it on a hastily taken coffee break? What was that holiday like? Was it a fabulously romantic getaway? Were the sunsets that the book saw beautiful? and how different was the Seychelles in the 90s? This paperback has a lot of creasing and curled edges... maybe the previous owner was a reckless reader or was it a good story that it's been passed through the hands of an entire extended family and worn out from use? How funny the look upon that parent's face must have bee, when they discovered that their child has drawn a picture of a lion on the inside cover of that very sombre novel.

So when you're next in a charity bookshop to pick up a read, give yourself a moment to think about all the magic involved. You have the sustenance that books provide 'After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need the most in the world.' - Philip Pullman. Remember that each book has made a unique journey to be there, has seen more of the world than the warehouse and the view from its shelf. If you can indulge your imagination - and I highly recommend that you do - you get a whole other story with what you purchase. You also get to relax in the sense of nostalgia and history that comes with recognising that books are ties to people who lived. And you get all the good feels that come from making a charitable choice...surely that's book magic at work right there.

Totes For Everyone

The evolution of the tote bag over recent years is one born out of both practicality and style. Well, you’d probably argue that all bags ought to be practical and somewhat stylish. However, the tote bag has something extra, an underlying value, a subliminal meaning or even a relatively obvious promotion of something you support. This could be your favourite charity, your friend’s new revolutionary start-up biz (even it’s an awful idea) or simply a print that proudly displays the part of London you’re from. As well as being trendy, tote bags are often incredibly cheap compared to most other alternatives. Their value for money combined with their practicality and trendiness makes tote bags even more of force to be reckoned with.

You might be thinking that tote bags are too girly or feminine but the origin of the tote bag is quite the polar opposite. They were originally designed by LL Bean in 1944 when the first Bean’s Ice Carrier was made. It was a bulky bag made of reinforced cotton for transporting substantial blocks of ice. The task of carrying one of these weighty tote bags is manly no matter which way you look at it. So in Spring/Summer 16, whether your simply transporting your groceries, or a hefty set of speakers to lend a friend, or you’ve actually been giving the task of bringing the ice for the drinks bucket at barbeque, be sure to have a tote bag at your beck and call!

Tote bags are also in keeping with the trend of textured menswear at the SS16 shows. They are often made from heavy cotton, tweed, furnishing fabrics, denim, bits of leather and various other retro fabrics which keeps them bang on trend through these textured times. At FARA, we have brought together the best of all these fabrics to create the foundations for our new limited edition tote bags – TOTES FOR EVERYONE. Each bag is TOTALLY unique and hand made from fabrics donated to FARA, by women in prison in London at the Fashion Training and Manufacture Unit, a social enterprise set up by London College of Fashion, UAL and the Ministry of Justice. This is an initiative which is aimed at providing skills and meaningful employment for serving and recently released offenders.

Totes for Everyone bags are available now from FARA’s Online Shop:

The sale of these totally unique tote bags will help fund FARA’s outreach scheme to help disadvantaged young women develop parenting and life skills, part of FARA’s internationally accredited FOYER training programme.

FARA MEN Trend Guide S/S16

Men are often left slightly alienated by the weird and outlandish clothes showcased on runways. However, some inspiration can be taken from the SS16 trends, even for the most conservative of dress senses.

Green was a continuous trend across the SS16 shows; It was all the rage on the runway with bottle green, tropical green and the brighter tones all making an appearance. So if you’re not partial to a bogey green bomber jacket, a bottle green shirt is a sure way to stay on trend and stylish. Its military origins have helped the colour maintain its popularity over time.

Pockets! The practicality of them offers so much for the man without a bag and, conveniently, this Spring/Summer they are in trend too! Large squared pockets were presented by designers in abundance giving men plenty of places to store and carry around their manly essentials. Of course for the gentleman with many manly essentials to carry, pockets and bags are not mutually exclusive - .but we'll come back to that later.

The expression ‘Demob Happy’ means to be stress-free and relaxed. It originates from the happiness after the end of the War after the demobilisation of armed forces. The functional and utilitarian tailoring that was prevalent just after the Second World War was on trend in SS16 shows; the outfits further demonstrated the trend of big practical pockets too.

Ankle cropped as well as baggy bottoms were showcased in all trouser wear including jeans, chinos, smart casual trousers and cords. There was continuity of ankle cropped trousers rather than slim fit through the formal wear too. We’re not saying neglect your slim fit jeans but make sure you give a slightly loser cut pair a go too.

Designers this season have also taken to incorporating a sporty look into their casual wear. The Sportswear Dandy trend has shown it’s cool to include sporty clothes in your outfit but in a more dapper and fashionable way. A lot of the big designers such as Armani and D&G had a noticeable sportswear influence at the SS16 shows. Sporty shorts and tracksuits were balanced out with, oversized shirts, floral prints and silk accessories.

‘Texture’ was a primary theme in the SS16 shows and can be perceived in various ways in order to fit your look. All types of textured material from the always popular suede pieces to horizontal-cut corduroy; the focus was wholly on the feel of the fabrics. More specifically, suede jacket are bang on trend for SS16. Make sure you wear your suede jackets loud & proud and for all to see.

Tote Bags were probably the most unassuming accessory in SS16. These bags were included in menswear catwalks by the likes of Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger and John Varvatos. If you’re not big on designer labels, or they’re simply out of your price range, then FARA have just the solution for you. You might be thinking that tote bags are too girly or feminine but the origin of the tote bag is quite the polar opposite. They were originally designed by LL Bean in 1944 when the first Bean’s Ice Carrier was made. It was a bulky bag made of reinforced cotton for transporting substantial blocks of ice. The task of carry one of these weighty tote bags is manly no matter what way you look at it.

FARA’s new limited edition tote bag has been designed and handmade by women at a London-based prison who received fashion training and manufacture skills from London College of Fashion, UAL and the Ministry of Justice. The women made the selection of tote bags from materials donated to FARA so they are 100% recycled. Only a limited number have been made and can be bought exclusively from FARA’s online shop: All funds raised from the sale of the bags will go specifically to FARA's outreach scheme to help disadvantaged young women develop parenting and life skills.

Shop Fundraising in FARA's 25th Anniversary Year

From 1st March 2016 FARA Shops have been raising money for the FARA Therapy Centres Fund. Please support this by making a donation in your local FARA shop or online

The fund aims to raise a minimum of £5000 to equip St Theresa's newly expanded therapy centre providing specialist therapy services and family support for 80 children aged 0 -16 years old with Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Scoliosis and other complex needs.

The History of FARA's Work with Children with Complex Needs

FARA has been actively working to alleviate the suffering of children neglected by Romania's state institutions for 25 years. Before FARA was founded back in the late 1980s/ early 1990s under Romania’s Communist President Nicolai Ceausescu, many ‘disabled’ children were forcibly removed from or abandoned by their parents. According to Government statistics at the time, there were no disabled children in Romania. They were hidden away from society and forgotten.

In the beginning the focus and development of the charity was primarily in caring for abandoned children and babies, developing foster care, family homes and working to improve child care services. In 2007 FARA started to develop programmes to help those with complex needs - both physical disabilities and learning disabilities. the Samuel Centre, for specialist learning and therapy was opened in Bucharest and was the first of its kind in Romania. Since the much has been achieved in this particular aspect of FARA's charitable works. Please watch this video to take a tour of a FARA Therapy Centre

'A mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community.'

Unite Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1) Article 23.1

Even today the social attitude to disabilities in Romania can still be negative - children born with special needs can often be discounted and shunned by their community with the prevailing attitude that disability is something dealt with by medication to control the condition with little recognition of the need for children to be stimulated and interact with others. Social stigma, lack of understanding of a child's needs, little or no support (funding for this is very limited in Romania) and the compounding issues of poverty (20% of Romania's population live in extreme poverty) means children with special needs are at high risk of being abandoned and placed in state institutions.

FARA works closely with statutory authorities in running our three pioneering therapy centres supporting 150 children aged between 0-12 years with Autism and other complex needs. A lack of consistency and stability makes working with Romanian authorities a challenge - something FARA has tackled head on with an expectation of excellence and acting as advocates of best practice. Specialist staff provide a wide range of individually tailored support in one on one and group therapy sessions. These include specialist education intervention, physiotherapy, speech, art and sensory therapy, family support & outreach services (such as the provision of household goods and transport), socialising and counselling. FARA champions social integration and inclusion in the educations system. It is believed that only 28% of children with complex needs receive some form of education mostly in mainstream schools where they lack individual care they desperately need.

Join the Movement

Our FARA Men movement has started. We’re calling upon men across London and the country to invest their thoughts into an idea that holds the key to social responsibility and style success.

FARA Men are required to be resolute individuals who are strongly benevolent and have the ability to put together a stylish outfit from a FARA Shop. They wear their hearts, literally, on their sleeves like a badge of honour. Our shops have a wide-ranging selection of classic, vintage and fashionable pieces for unbeatable prices. Find your nearest shop here:

Many men have tried and many have fallen; do you have the strength to smash through the metaphorical glass ceiling and become a part of FARA Men’s movement?

Audio Archaeology
Old School Sounds

Vinyl has been the beneficiary of our innate need for the inclusion of tradition and nostalgia in our modern lives. In 1977 vinyl sales reached their highest, since then sales have gradually decreased to being virtually non-existent in the music market in 2005, making the vinyl merely an outdated way of playing music. However, naturally when something becomes near enough dead in the water we have this dominant need within us to revive it.

Over the last 10 years the sales of vinyl have progressively increased. This was most noticeable in 2015 when sales dramatically increased by 56% year-on-year according to the BPI (British Phonographic Industry); and reached their biggest sales total since 1994. It may seem astounding considering the current predominance of streaming music. Having said that, it could be argued that the way we listen to music has changed so much, that we want something different from commercialised and synthetic notion of today’s music that we can’t help but feel. The scratchy perfect imperfections of a vinyl offers us an escape from the boring clarity of modern music caused by digital editing and auto tune.

The love of records will never completely go as long as there are people who love music. It is the first and foremost way music was captured for our ears. Records are wonderful artefacts to collect. Many find it hard to resist thumbing through a box of vinyl, enjoying the artwork style and design and even its smell.

The joy of vinyl is not just their warm sound, their unique distortions, scratching and hissing, which adds the individual character of each record – it is the physical interaction with the analogue technology you need to play them. It is the fulfilling experience of putting a record on a turntable and then flipping it over to indulge in the music on the other side. Vinyl is a lifestyle and every vinyl lover needs some old school audio equipment to complete their vibe. Well preserved console stereos from the 60s and 70s are fully functioning conversation pieces giving the most uninviting of rooms an element of reminiscence and an added verve. A great investment for today and years to come. And the sound they produce has a warmth, richness and power that will give that extra boom to every baseline.

FARA Homeware in Whitton is great for audio archaeology. This hidden gem is a well stock repository of old school audio equipment. They regularly sell working components for anyone to build their own home audio set, with good quality amplifiers and speakers at great prices. All you need is your audio source your computer, TV, MP3 player, iPod or smartphone, some leads and bit of knowhow and away you go!*FARA Homewares also sells old tuners, CD players, turntables to complete you personalised modular system. Once you are set up all you need is to visit your local FARA shop to stock up on some more vinyl classics.


A Progressive Breed

Men have always had a reluctance to shop at charity shops and wearing second hand clothes can feel like a massive secret that they bear cautiously on their shoulders. This strong feeling of deception can break the strongest of men, when questioned by the most vigilant of peers; ‘that’s a nice jacket mate, where’s it from?’ This often leads to more interrogation – ‘how much?’ quoting too little will blow your cover, overdoing it will leave your interrogator suspicious and leave you susceptible to another barrage of questions.

Lies will catch up with you eventually so you might as well just blow your own cover and come clean. The liberating honesty will probably spark a good topic of debate about the great quality clothes that can be found at charity shops in comparison to poor quality ones found at most retail stores - items that are 100% cotton, wool and cashmere can be found in abundance and for half the price of mass produced polyester clothes that fill the rails of the high street today.

The idea that charity shops in London only cater for hipsters is a misconception; there are many classic pieces that have no expiry date through trends nor seasons. Admittedly, finding a gem in mint condition that fits you perfectly can prove difficult but with a good dry clean and a slight alteration your new garment will feel as good as new.

Notoriously, men have a habit of wearing their clothes until they are completely worn which is why men’s selection in charity and vintage shops is sometimes limited compared to the women’s selection. High quality menswear is most certainly available for men in charity shops, it’s just that you’re made to look a little bit harder to find it.

There has been slight culture shift in recent years, with more and more men responsibly donating their unwanted to clothes to charity and increasingly more men have become open to the idea of buying from charity shops.

A continued growth in men engaging with the charity shop scene will mean more benefits for great causes such as FARA, the environment, the charity-shop goer’s outfit and their wallet! Currently, FARA have a great range of menswear in all of our clothes shops and for those with a vintage bent RETROMANIA London, Victoria is our go to shop.

We still however intend to build on our menswear selection in all of our clothing shops so if you have men’s clothes to donate, please do not hesitate to bring them to any FARA shop and check out what’s on offer whilst you’re in there too!
FARA MEN – we need to see more of you.

Dieting & Donating

Once the tin of Quality Street is down to the last few orange creams and strawberry fondants centres you know that the indulgences of Christmas are drawing to a close. A mince pie here and there and before you know it your favourite jeans are feeling tighter than is comfortable. The inevitability of dieting in the New Year gets ever closer.

In a poll taken last year* out of the 2878 people asked whether they made any New Year’s Resolutions only 24.6% said they did. If you are one of this resolute few then there is a high likelihood that losing weight will be one of your goals.. Along with getting fitter and healthier, losing weight and drinking less alcohol were top of the resolution list.**

Dieting plays havoc with your wardrobe. - deciding what to keep either when you have put on weight or are losing it is a battle - do you buy new clothes to suit your changing body shape? Charity shops can be a get way to help you resolve all these dilemmas. Donate what doesn’t fit and buy something that does!

According to a survey by Slimfast*** the average woman has 14 items of clothing hanging in her closet that no longer fit. Almost half of women can't bring themselves to throw away clothes that are too small for them, according to a wardrobe survey of 1,000 women for George at Asda.****

“Asked why they keep hold of neglected items, 42 per cent admit keeping clothing that is too small because they hope they will 'lose weight' and be able to wear it one day.

One in six women will even buy new clothes as a 'reward' for reaching a weight loss goal, while 40 per cent can't bear to throw away clothing with 'sentimental' value.”

Further more

“One in 10 women confess that they 'can't remember' most of what's in their wardrobe, with one in five feeling 'guilty' about how many clothes and shoes they own.”

As rule of thumb it you can’t remember wearing it may be it is time to have a clear out and appease the sense of guilt by donating some of your stuff to your local FARA shop. It is never too early to start Spring cleaning. Screw dieting, we’re all perfect anyway!

*Poll taken by Kantar's Lightspeed GMI
**A poll of almost 1,700 adults in the UK by Angels Den.
2015 New Year’s Resolution
1. Get fitter and healthier (63 per cent)
2. Drink less alcohol (57 per cent)
3. Lose weight (34 per cent)
4. Get out of debt (26 per cent)
5. Stop smoking (22 per cent)
6. Find a new job/change career (18 per cent)
7. Spend more time with friends/family (14 per cent)
8. Start my own business (11 per cent)
9. Travel more (9 per cent)
10. Find love (7 per cent)

The Gift of Giving
...and re-giving

Is it so hard to believe that four out of ten people fake joy at receiving unwanted Christmas presents? According to a poll carried out by this level of insincerity is rife in the festive season. We have all done it - that special 'no honestly, I love it' smile following the annual awkward moment you open Aunt Aida's present of yet another pair of novelty socks and toiletries that even the naffest of B&B's would think twice about putting out for guests!

On average, in Britain, we receive eight Christmas present and hate two of them making over one million unwanted gifts in homes post Christmas.* Top of this year’s list of unwanted presents** for many is a selfie stick, Insanity Workout DVD and any Minions toys. So if you are ' lucky' enough to receive any of these - don't let them fester in a cupboard or linger, cluttering up the house - ease your ungrateful guilt by donating them to your nearest FARA shop. Let's face it charity shops simply couldn't survive without the flotsam and jetsam of our 'gimme' consumerist society landing at our doorsteps.

Bring it on... We'll love the gifts you hate and be truly grateful for any donations we receive. More importantly by the act of re-giving your presents you help FARA provide a family for those without - the best gift you could give at Christmas.

* From a survey of 2000 people in 2014 by
** From recent research by The British Heart Foundation quoted in the article ‘Revealed: the most unwanted Christmas presents of 2015’ by The Kent and Sussex Courier, 22 December 2015

Did Tech Kill the Book or Give it a New Lease of Life?
Book versus Kindle

In recent years, the development in technology influenced the way we look at all sorts of things – including books. Companies such as Amazon have taken the lead in altering our age-old shopping habits, with some even suggesting high street retail and buying in-store is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Amazon have even gone as far as to create and continue to develop the Amazon Kindle; a hub for all your favourite novels in one book-sized digital device.

At first, it was feared that the Kindle would have devastating effects on the traditional book market, with people adamant that the ease of having the book you want in your hand instantly at one click of a button would be too convenient to ignore. However, there is not the same popularity to buy a book at the click the button as there is when buying everything else from weekly groceries to weekend outfits online. The Kindle has not overshadowed the traditional way of reading, with people still much preferring the feel and smell of a newly-bound book than a computerised digital one.

It has become clear that the digital option will never replace the tradition of collecting books and the story behind each one, rather than just the story in the book itself. The smell of a new book can be just as satisfying as the nostalgia that the smell of an old one can create. The way books are beautifully crafted together beats any type of modern technology hands down. Some find it hard to describe the liberating feeling of detachment when nestling their head in between the covers of a hardback for a short while; a feeling of being lost in something that has a meaning and substance. Words, sentences and paragraphs crafted together by the best wordsmiths are not given the justice they deserve when read off a disappearing digital screen; permanent ink and heavy paper emphasise the meaning behind all stories.

Amazon are fully aware of their market and have recently opened their first book store in Seattle, US. This shows even they can no longer overlook the undying demand for the physical experience of buying a book. Chemists have even worked out the distinctive scent of books helping to explain why some people just love the smell of old book shops.

Books are an investment for the future, they give homes character and gain both sentimental and financial value over time. FARA book week is from Thursday 19th November until Sunday 29th November and we are offering 3 books for the price of 2 across our shops to encourage you to stay inspired over the winter months.

The Old Toy Shop
Interest Growing In Old Toys

As a child, nothing beat the adrenaline of the occasional trip to the toy shop to finally buy the one toy that will fill you with happiness and fulfil your aspirations. However this joy was often short lived, as it only lasted until the spoilt cool kid at school got the new latest gizmo which started a new craze. This meant another week of pleading your parents for a long awaited trip to the toy shop. And so, the cycle continued.

However, amongst this whirlwind of up and downs through your early years, did you know that your quick-toy-fix that you cherished only for a matter of days could be like gold dust now? Probably not, no. And if you did know, would your childish-self care? Of course not, the excitement was far too much to stop and think.

Whilst rummaging through various donations, I came across an old box with a vintage style ‘Lego Systems’ logo printed on the front. The box itself was rather tattered so my first thought was to discard the box and hopefully find some novelty Lego of some worth inside. Upon inspection, I found an array of boxed Lego sets in very good condition and after researching the value of each set I concluded that collectively they were worth about £60. The tattered ‘Lego Systems’ box was kept as more to keep all the sets together and was not thought as something buyers would care about.

After a short period on an online auction, it became clear that the ‘Lego systems’ box itself was the cause for all the interest and after more research I found that the box and all the Lego was sent to a winner of a Kellogg’s competition in the 70s. I received numerous messages not to throw away the box or any packaging as this would put a serious dent in its value! I took this advice on board and by the end of auction, a box of unsuspecting Lego first thought to be worth around £60 raised £322! What an amazing contribution to our 2015 appeal.

Small toys by manufacturers such as Dinky and Corgi are toys that should never be overlooked. In our 2015 online auction, we put up a selection of small toys which drummed up a lot more interested than we’d anticipated. One of the highlights was a palm-size novelty Beatles Yellow Submarine which caused a stir amongst toy collectors and raised over £30 alone. Auctions for other model toys such as a blue Ford Escort and a James Bond Moon buggy (pictured below) also raised funds to help us edge towards our 2015 fundraiser target.

These donations have reminded us that vintage toys are very popular and have a very lucrative market. The experience prompted us to further educate all our FARA shop teams about methods and guidelines to use in order to spot hidden gems. This will ensure that generously donated toys will get their ‘amazing donation’ status and gain a price tag that will boost efforts towards our annual target!

Whistle-Stop Tour of FARA Romania
Raphe Phelan reflects on his recent trip to our programmes

Raphe Phelan became FARA Charity Shops Managing Director at the beginning of 2015. During the eight years he has been with FARA he has visited Romania many times. This is an account of his most recent trip.

"My alarm went off at 4:30am and four hours later I was at Luton Airport boarding a plane to Bucharest. My travelling companion was Kate from the FARA Charity Office. Three hours later, we landed and we were met by Cornelia the current Director of Operations in Romania and Ines her successor from 1st January. After a rather tortuous, eight hour car journey we arrived in Cacica cold and hungry at 11:00pm. It was wet and dark. On entering the accommodation we were met by lovely warmth and a fridge full of delicious food, a great end to a long journey on our first day in Romania.

On day two of the trip we visited St. Therese’s our centre for children with complex needs in Falticeni. It is managed by Andra and her team and operates out of three rooms made available by local Social Services. It provides various treatments for 47 children with physical and learning disabilities many of whom attend the centre several times a week. There is a long waiting list for the centre. As ever I am struck by the dedication and warmth of staff for the children in their care.

From St. Therese’s we travelled to St Mary’s and St. Joseph’s the homes which house ten and six young adults respectively. These young people have various disabilities most arising as a consequence of having spent time in State Institutions. St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s will be their homes for the rest of their lives. With pride they showed us around, their work, their much loved pigs, hens and rabbits and we enjoyed the funny stories they told us.

From there we travelled to Baia one of the four Prevention Programmes which caters for 126 children and encourages Roma children to attend school. It is hoped that by regular attendance and improved education they can be lifted out of grinding poverty. A hot meal is provided which for many of them is their only meal of the day. The programmes are overseen ably by Andreea and her team. The welcoming smiles of the children were heart warming.

From Baia we travelled to Bahna Arina the village which is the focus of FARA’s 2015 fundraising Appeal. In evidence here is abject poverty. Many large families live in two room houses not fit for purpose, with little to eat. It is fantastic to see how funds raised have been put to good use with new rooms being added, existing walls and roofs repaired, electrics being sorted out and new stoves being added to provide warmth in the sub-zero winter temperatures. The families are very grateful that someone cares enough to want to help and were all smiles and chatted happily as we visited. There is still much to be done but the future for these families in much brighter.

Day 3 and 4 were dedicated to reviewing the 2016 budgets for the 17 programmes and two offices which operate in Romania. The time spent with the programme directors ensures that the funds being sent out are spent as wisely as possible.

Day 5 was another day of visits to FARA programmes. First stop the Emmanuel Centre, a centre for children with complex needs located in Suceava. It is very well run by Alexandra and her team and was formerly the St. Nicholas home. First impressions are of a clean, happy environment in which 80 children with physical and learning disabilities are treated professionally and with great care and warmth. There is again along waiting list for places and it is hoped to expand the service in time.

Our next destination was the St. Michaels centre and the OAT Farm. These are located side by side in Spateresti. The St. Michaels centre is empty at present and is awaiting refurbishment to become the home for the new Foyer in Suceava mirroring the highly successful programme currently operated by FARA in Satu Mare in North West Romania. The Foyer programme seeks to assist marginalised young adults into paid employment thus out of poverty.

The OAT Farm visit involved inspecting the eight poly tunnels to see the organic produce being grown. Sebastian is the farm manager and advised us that the farm work was beginning to slow down in anticipation of the harsh winter which can get down to 20 below.

Our final visit of the day was a visit to the new St. Nicholas to meet with the very impressive Carmen and her team. A visit to the Children’s homes is always the highlight of any visit to the FARA programmes and this was no exception. The children were very excited by our visit although the large bags of sweets we brought may also have had some influence and chatted happily with us as they would do in any family. Among others we talked to Laurentiu (formerly Bebe) who looks very well despite his heart problems and the need for another operation.

All too soon it was time for Cornelia to catch her train back to Bucharest and for us to travel to Bacau to catch our flight back to the UK. As always, on returning from Romania, I cannot help but conclude that FARA has fantastic people working for it both in Romania and the shops in the UK and how truly privileged I am to belong to the FARA family. "

From Anfield to Teddington

It’s hard to imagine what to expect when you start a new job. My first day was no exception. An array of various items were scattered across my desk, all of which needed to be researched for an upcoming charity auction. A box of old Dinky toys, some vintage Lego, sorts of things that bring out the small child in you, but the football was what really caught my eye...

At the weekends I play as a goalkeeper for my local team and as such I am used to having a football in my hands - but never have I held a signed ball of this calibre; one with such strong history and heritage, signed by legends of the game. It soon became clear the ball was from the late 70's/ early 80's era, a period when Liverpool were one of the best, if not the best team in Europe and the world under the management of the great late Bob Paisley.

After distinguishing a few more of the player’s signatures, it didn't take long to work out that the ball was from the 1978/79 season. The ball has fifteen signatures from the league winning team including the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Ray Clemence and the late Emlyn Hughes. A lot was made of Liverpool’s success in the media at this time, with manager Bob Paisley once joking to a reporter, “Mind you, I've been here during the bad times too - one year we came second."

During the 78/79 season Liverpool had high hopes winning the European Cup for the third consecutive year; a feet only achieved by European giants Real Madrid, Ajax and Bayern Munich. Unfortunately, Liverpool’s hopes were dashed after being knocked out early on by Nottingham Forest who went on to lift the trophy that season. Forest proved stiff competition in the race for the first division league title too, but Liverpool ran away with it and won the league championship with a record points total.

The fifteen players who have signed the ball are Alan Hansen, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case, Alan Kennedy, Kevin Sheedy, Steve Heighway, Ray Clemence, Steve Ogrizovic, Phil Neal, Kenny Dalglish, David Johnson, David Fairclough and Emlyn Hughes.

Many of these players have gone on to give back to the beautiful game, whether it be through management, coaching or TV punditry, but I think it’s safe to say nothing will ever top the glory days of the late 1970s and the memories that it made.

This unique piece of Liverpool history is up for grabs in an online charity auction to raise money for our 2015 'Raising the Roof on Poverty' Appeal. The auction started at 9.30pm on Thursday 15th October follow this link directly to the auction

For all our other auctions listings please visit

...Having style is forever

The start of a new season and the unpredictable change in British weather is upon us. Transitioning from summer to autumn lends itself to layering up with sometimes an air of indecision – charity shops providing the perfect place to grab a jumper or an un-seasonal dress. It is easy to wear three different trends in one outfit trying to keep up with the speed of the roaring fashion industry and its constant bombardment of the latest must haves and micro trends.

The idea that buying from charity shops is embarrassing has fast become one in distant memory as customers from all ages find themselves walking triumphantly out of their local shop proudly clutching their latest bargain. In fact, now more than ever, high street stores are looking even more unappetising, with their predictable branding and the ‘copycat culture’ within retail that doesn’t leave you with much opportunity to diversify your look.

Designer Caroline Herrera said ‘Fashion has always been a repetition of ideas but what makes it new is the way you put it together.’ You may meticulously craft your attire or unconsciously throw it on – either way it belies who you are. Whether you courageously put together your whole outfit from charity shop buys or just include one second hand accessory to compliment your look, there is an underlying liberating feeling of connecting with your social responsibility and detaching yourself from the consumeristic environment that we often find ourselves engulfed in. Style is the ability to distinctively sort through a maze of things and make a selection dictated, essentially, by how we see ourselves; a reflection of our unique complexity as a human being. It is with style that we pull ourselves away from mundane arbitrary choices and stamp our personal identity on our everyday outfits.

Take that brave step into a FARA shop and fine yourself immersed in characterful clothing that defines the very fabric of you.

Have a look at the very best for FARA's Autumn/Winter 2015 season change on FARA Shops facebook page at

Views from Kristian Hughes.....

London Fashion Week has begun. Early this morning Covent Garden was buzzing with queues of beautiful people trying to get their big break - car park catwalks show casing the best of British fashion design - not to mention model zones, Instagrammers and #fbloggers having fashion field day or four!

We have asked FARA's RETROMANIA London's, Shop Manager, Kristian Hughes, what he makes of it all....

What do you think of this year's location of the Brewer Street car park in Soho?

"Dunno really - it's all part of the revamping of Soho - what's it like?"

You have just finished your legendary end of season sale - how has that been?

"Really good, crazy but amazing! People just want classic designer whether it is one season ago or a thousand seasons old. They know what they want and that is a name!"

What delights we find for A/W 2015 on RETROMANIA’s rails from tomorrow?

"Loads of feminine men’s clothes – unisex. People are being brave – finding self-identity by wearing vintage. We have men’s op art shirts from the 60’s/ 70’s/ 8-‘s – psychedelic shirts – an Issey Miyake quilted coat – space age mac – printed floral leather trench coat – proper lumber jack shirts.

We have the usual shearling 70’s/80’s coat – bohemian folklore wear – loads of 80’s designer cocktail dresses – YSL, Christian Dior suits – it’s just a forest of dresses – green, purple – pinks – Bibaesque and Dolly Decco dresses.

Ohhh loads of Victoriana – Gothic – loads of velvet, skirts, full blown cloaks, frock coats and capes.

Military skirts suits – fur trims and wool……"

How would you describe the street style emerging for the new season?

"GEEKY! – they are wearing flares in a bad kinda 90’s way of doing it. They are being brave – keeping the floppy hats from summer. It’s that vintage look that all the high street stores are copying - Top Shop doing suede scalloped mini-skirts and people are bringing them in thinking they are vintage."

What designer has caught your eye recently?

"Gucci – I never used to like them but they are trying to do the more trendy retro pieces."

Who gives you #FROW glow? Are you a Grimmy or a Kimye fan?


RETROMANIA has been nominated for TimeOut’s 2015 Love London Awards. VOTING STARTS on October 1st until 31st October

Cupcakes and Cement - a recipe for success

From the beginning of July our shop teams have been baking, making, raffling and face painting their way throughout the summer fundraising for FARA ‘Raise The Roof’ Appeal. They have rattled donation tins and thanks to their hard work and the generosity of our customers our fundraising total has reached £6427.82. We have more events planned and have raised almost half of our Appeal target, much to the delight of Jane Nicholson (FARA’s Chair of Trustees) and the FARA Charity Office.

There is no doubt that life is hard of the families for the village of Bahna Arini – the beneficiaries of FARA's 2015 Appeal. They live in extreme poverty and they do the best they can to survive their harsh reality. All of the 62 children in the village are in FARA’s ‘tackling poverty through education’ programme with all of then receiving a hot daily meal and extra tuition. Only 7 children out of that 62 have a proper dedicated space at home for their needs. Through FARA’s help, they now have a chance to thrive in adequate living accommodation and with continued family support, greater access to medical services and a community growing in morale through positive and proactive change made possible through funds raised in FARA’s 2015 Appeal.

FARA UK receives detailed reports of the large scale building renovation project in the village of Bahna Arini which the FARA’s Appeal is funding. We can see exactly where all of the money raised is being spent - on bags of cement, lime, wire mesh, breeze blocks and wood to help repair the homes of 13 families most in need in the village. The families members are all doing the renovation work themselves using traditional building methods to rebuild and render walls, relay floors and install traditional fireplaces/ovens – not to mention a lick of paint!

Here are the stories of just four of the families from Bahna Arini

FARA’s 2015 Appeal has provided the Munteanu family with breeze blocks, wire mesh, concrete, screed to renovate their home. The eldest girl (pictured bottom left) must carry water 200m from the village well in order to mix the mortar required. Mr Munteanu is seriously ill, despite this he still works hard planting trees to earn enough to feed his family and pay for expensive medical treatment. On his return from the mountains with help from his wife and children he has started to fix up the family home. FARA will provide further materials to finish the renovations and support for this struggling family.

FARA’s 2015 Appeal has provided the Badalache family 20 bags of cement, wire mesh and 5 bags of lime so they can render the outside of their home before extremely cold Romanian winter begins. Mr and Mrs Badalache are elderly parents, their oldest son is disabled and they have four other children under 12 years old. Their only income comes from the children’s allowances. Mr Badalache has hearing problems and can’t find work and he sometimes has to beg to provide for his family. Mrs Badalache (pictured bottom, second left) and her brother have done the renovation work, mixing traditional building materials by hand using straw, earth and cement.

FARA’s 2015 Appeal has provided the Anghel family cement and OSB wood board to reconstruct their asbestos ridden entrance hall - the local council will help with a new roof. All nine family members live in one room at present. Mr Anghel and his two eldest sons have been away working in a local vineyard for many weeks this summer. On their return they have been able to renovate the entrance hall of the house which will be turned into a kitchen eventually. They have few building skills but a lot of determination to do the work to help the whole family improve their living conditions particularly for the youngest children (pictured bottom, second right)

FARA’s 2015 Appeal has provided the Nechita family cement, lime and wire mesh to renovate their home. Their home was four rooms of which only one is habitable – where their four children eat, sleep and do their homework in the same room. In order to support his family Mr Nechita must go away to work. Their home was in ruins and without electricity. The family sold a cow in order to get hooked up to a supply. On Mr Nechita’s return from work he was very keen to get on with renovation work and when the materials arrived he, helped by his wife and children had the wire mesh in place ready for walls to be rendered within a couple of hours (pictured bottom right.)

Interview with Misseverydayelegance

Poppy Chanelle also known as ‘Misseverydayelegance’ is a fashion, personal style, and lifestyle blogger from London. She is no stranger to FARA shops. We love Poppy’s look and sweet charity style and wanted to know more…

1. How did you become Misseverydayelegance?

“When deciding on a name for my blog, I knew I wanted it to include the word "elegance" somewhere within the title and as the blog was going to be covering everyday things, Everyday Elegance fitted the bill, but to make it feel a touch more personal I added "Miss" at the start, and so Misseverydayelegance was created!”

2. How would you describe your own style?

“I don't think I have a particular style, as I tend to flit between different looks, depending on what mood I'm in, or where I'm going. When it comes to the latest fashion trends, I tend to pick out pieces that will work for my shape/ height, rather than following it from head to toe.”

3. You have a substantial amount of followers, congrats on that! How did you manage this? How do you promote your blog?

“I started my blog and twitter account of the same name, just over two years ago, and joined Instagram, April of last year. I have found twitter & Instagram a great way to promote my blog, and find like-minded people, who share an interest in make-up, photography and fashion.”

4. We see you like to shop in charity shops; why is this?

“Like me, a lot of my followers love a good charity shop bargain, so I'm always showcasing my latest finds, and putting outfits together that I found at charity shops. It all began when I needed to gain retail experience after I left college, I started at my local charity shop where I was astonished by the donations people handed in, so began visiting other charity shops around London to see what else I could find, which I now call a ‘charity shop crawl’.”

5. Which was the first FARA Charity Shop you visited?

“The first FARA I visited was the Kensington shop in Gloucester road, where I found a cute wine coloured play suit for £6. The staff where really friendly, and I liked how the clothes were sorted into coloured sections, which meant you could head straight for the rails containing your favourite colours.”

6. How long have you been shopping in FARA? What’s your favourite FARA Shop Floor Share?

“I've been visiting FARA shops for a few years now, and always enjoy checking out new ones I haven't been to before. Over the years I have found some great items, but my favourite FARA purchase so far, is a pair of floral flares I found at the North End Road shop for £5.50. The whole outfit cost me only £12!” *

7. You were a model in our ‘Today I Am Wearing’ Competition. How did this come about?

“I try to go on a charity shop crawl at least once a week, as people donate items every day, so there is always something new to find. I have my favourite shops I regularly visit, one of which is the FARA shop in Battersea, where on one occasion I was asked by the manager at the time if I would take part in the "today I'm sharing competition", which involved being photographed in an outfit styled by the shop team. The look was uploaded to the FARA Facebook page along with entries from all the other FARA shops, so people could then vote on their favourite look.”

8. Heels or flats Poppy?

“As a petite girl, it must be heels!”

9. Who takes your photos?

“I studied photography, which really helps when you have a blog, you learn pretty quick that a tripod is a must! But when a tripod just won’t do my mum is the person I turn to, to take pictures of myself.”

10. Your absolute wardrobe essential?

“I would have to say my wardrobe essential has to be a good pair of skinny jeans and a white tee, casual but stylish!”

Visit Poppy’s blog


Summer 2015 Reading Challenge

The six week summer holiday is a long time to keep the kids occupied – what better way than encouraging them to get immersed in the wonderful world of books. As Walt Disney put it so well “There is more treasure in books than in all the Pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

Reading for twenty minutes a day with kids equals an amazing 1,800,000 words in a year* - in which you can share fantastic stories and trips of the imagination together whether you read in the morning, or the evening, in the bath, on a picnic, with friends or quietly at the library. Make reading a daily habit and a lifelong love for them.

They may have already signed up to the Summer Reading Challenge 2015 at your local library helping British Libraries set a Guinness World Record title. Read just six books over the summer and you could be a Record Breaker too.

All FARA Kids shops (and every FARA shop) are well stocked with a wide selection of books. Charity shops are excellent places to pick up a book or three for holiday reading whatever age you are! All this week** FARA Kids shops are celebrating children’s literature and the joys of reading. Enjoy their creatively book themed window displays in each of our 13 kids shops. We are sure you will take advantage of our 3 for 2 promotion to sate any tenacious reader’s appetite. Get your little ones going back to school in September confident in their reading having travelled in a world of wonderful reads this summer. For your nearest FARA Kids shop location follow this link

Did we mention FARA Books in Teddington has a fabulous selection of kids books too… no? Well read all about this brilliant shop in the Evening Standard’s Spotlight feature in the Homes & Property section on Wednesday 29th July.

FARA Books, 34d Broad Street, Teddington TW11 8HG
0208 977 6475

**Thursday 23rd July until Friday 31st July 2015

Let your dreams out grow the shoes of your expectations

When I first saw this photograph on Facebook I realised its significance instantly. It was posted by a member of staff from FARA Romania, who I met in 2013 while visiting FARA’s programmes in Suceava. I have met that boy, known of his need for new shoes and seen with my own eyes his joy at receiving them. Well, it wasn’t exactly him, as the boy in the picture is called Hans Werfel, age 6 of Vienna, Austria whose delight was captured by the American Red Cross on the 1st of December 1952.

The boy I am thinking of comes from one of the five villages FARA supports as part of the rural development programme in the very poor north east of Romania. The Charity provides daily hot meals, made and produced at FARA’s organic farm to 300 children in five schools ensuring they do not go hungry and have a good reason to stay to finish their homework. I had just helped serve up lunch at a school and we were due to head off in to visit a remote village where FARA had been working with another charity to help fix up the homes of some of the kids that were in a dire state. Before we left a boy approached the staff member and whispered something in her ear - he was soon followed by a number of other children, who crowded around as she opened the boot of her car. Amongst the bottles of cooking oil, UHT milk and sacks of rice was a cardboard box of shoes. She quickly sized up his feet rummaged around and offered him some shoes. Indeed he was grateful but when he saw some football boots his eyes lit up (they were too big but it didn't matter.)

I will never forget the trip to the village. Mud and more mud. Little ones running around with nappies swinging low. No shoes. No roof on a half built room. A mother with five children in a tiny space - a fly lazily bothered her baby snoozing…. Nothing aspirational, no sense of hope - nothing but improvised filth and more mud. I was just astounded at the levels of poverty. A new pair of shoes was they very least of what was required but it was a start. FARA has been working to improve the lives of families and particularly the kids of these villages for ten years. FARA's 2015 Appeal is helping a village much like the one I visited. The choice of image for the campaign was no coincidence.

It is so easy to forget what a luxury a pair of shoes that fits is. It is only one of many choices we make in a day, can I run for be bus in these, do they make me look good, do they rub and simply which ones shall I wear. So next time you make this decision think about the good a pair of shoes can do. Like these YSL platform gladiators worn once and donated to FARA on sale at Retromania for £175. Nothing practical about this footwear but its resale has great value and kudos for FARA. To the other extreme to these two sacks of hardly used football boots donated by students from Thomas’s School in Battersea where FARA took part in a Make A Difference Day. A pair of shoes can do a lot of good whether raising funds or given as a needed or prized item. And, as we all know, Cinderella is proof that one pair of shoes can change your life!

“Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations.” Says the Japanese poet Ryunosuke Satoro

How about these ‘unexpected’ shoes: below on the left from Because International invented by a man who decided to make the humble shoe a real force of change.

Or these prototype trainers, Parley from Adidas (centre picture) made from recycled ocean plastics and discarded fishing nets - a very different hi-tech sustainable shoe from the ones fashioned from plastic bottles out of necessity.

The Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition at the V & A from the 13th June 2015 to 31st January 2016 further explores the extremes of footwear from around the globe.

Glastonbury - how it all began...

Imagine, it's late June and you are standing in a field in the middle of Somerset watching some of the most progressive musical acts of the day play live on stage... The urgent riff of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ plays, it's 1970. Inspired by the amazing line up at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Rock, Michael Eavis and his wife decide to set up their own festival in Pilton. The rest, as they say, is history…

The first 'Glastonbury' festival-goers, all 1500 of them, paid £1 a ticket and received free milk from Mr Eavis’ Worthy Farm. 45 years later, times have certainly changed with Glasto’ tickets setting you back £225 and 135 thousand people descending on the 900 acre site in the Vale of Avalon. This, now internationally famous festival attracts class acts from around the globe. This year Florence and the Machine headline, Kayne West, Pharrell Williams and Lionel Richie grace the pyramid stage ... not to mention performances by The Who, Patti Smith and Motörhead. His holiness the Dalai Lama will be a guest speaker along with Charlotte Church and her anti-austerity rely cries.

For those who are lucky enough to go, getting prepared for the five day festival can take some planning*. Tents, sleeping bags, loo roll and of course what to wear? The seventies look is as fresh as it was almost half a century ago with this summer’s trends making a big nod to hippy, bohemian, summer of love styling... So, if you want the authentic look, FARA's vintage shop, Retromania London has original sixties and seventies suede & fringing galore and much, much more.

We challenged all 49 FARA shops to create their own festival fashion looks from their shop rails for a Facebook competition

Good value jeans are always available at FARA to be made into festival regulation cut-offs and of course you can shop at FARA for all seasons so picking up a pair of wellies or a warm woolly jumper for an extra layer at night is easy. With the unpredictable English summertime weather you might as well pick up a raincoat, umbrella and sunglasses while you’re there too!


Inspired & Educated Giving

Can the impact of one day make a difference to children’s attitudes towards charitable giving for the rest of their lives? Research suggests yes it can, however teaching children to make charitable giving a habitual activity is an ongoing process. A 2013 study for the United Nations Foundation* concluded that talking to children is the most effective strategy to encourage them to give to charity. In comparison, parental role modelling did not have significant impact on children’s giving behaviour. Put simply, parents may put money in donation tins or sort out stuff for charity shops but this doesn’t help kids understand what charity is.

Through adopting a few mindful activities children can play an important role in supporting charities. FARA makes school visits to give presentations explaining FARA’s mission and how pupils can help. FARA was delighted to be invited to Thomas’ School in Battersea on 19th June (FARA’s fourth year supporting Thomas’ Schools.) The whole school kindly brought in donations. A class of 8 year olds were given the presentation and three 12 year olds volunteered in the FARA Battersea shop.

So how does FARA hope to make a difference:
• By inspiring empathy – asking how it would feel if there was no one to care for you or if you didn’t have the things needed to thrive and reach your full potential.

• By explaining why solutions to the problems of need are not simple – if a child needs food or shoes it is not always the answer for charities to send these to them. Part of the bigger solution is to help support a countries economy by buying items locally.

• By teaching kids how to donate wisely to charity shops – explaining how FARA makes the most of every donation by asking people to give items of re-sellable quality (one good book or an out-grown t-shirt is better than a whole bag of games with missing pieces which FARA has to then dispose of.)

• By sharing the fact that giving to charity shops prevents clothing equivalent to the weight of 40,000 elephants from going into landfills every year. Recycle, reuse and re sell helps towards the sustainability of resources in the future.

• By showing that kids can be ethical consumers by making good choices to spend their pocket money in charity shops where toys and books can be bought and where clothes can be sought more cheaply than the high street & individual looks can be created!

• By doing a good deed through helping out which is a lot fun as well. Pupils at Thomas’ School happily gave up their break time to help carry on sorting donations as they were enjoying it so much!

“I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”**

They are our future philanthropists, conscientious consumers, our future supporters, donors, customers and staff. The ones who will make a difference for generations to come.

*Written and researched by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
**Whitney Houston, The Greatest Love Of All

Appeal Update
Building Renovations Begin at Bahna Arini

On the 7th June Ela Lum, a FARA Area Manager jumped out of an airplane high above Salisbury to raise money for FARA’s 2015 Appeal. The plan had been for her to jump in April however due to adverse weather conditions it had to be postponed. Following one further cancellation she finally made it - third time lucky!

Thanks to Ela’s terrific efforts 15,000 feet high and the amazing support of FARA customers and staff, £1672.44 was collected for Raise the Roof Appeal.
Since then almost another thousand pounds has been generously given by our shops’ customers contributing in our special 2015 Appeal donation situated at every FARA shop till point.

Firusta Pastrav - FARA Romania’s Rural Development Programme Manager explains how this Appeal money is being used:

“At the beginning of May we took the first steps in our house renovation programme: organising the building materials. The main things we need are yellow clay, wood, straw and water. Since water is so scarce we have to bring it to the village in a fire-engine and store it in big tanks.

One of our first steps will be to help the Putavai family. Their property, which is near to collapse, is home to three generations. Our plan is to build a new house for the children and their parents and then build a new room for the grandparents in the old house.”

FARA Shops 2015 Appeal will assist 13 families (81 people including many of the children below) to improve their homes as part of this project to bring revolutionary change to the forgotten village of Bahna Arini.

Recently, we were sent pictures of building materials arriving in the village – it is fantastic to see how all our fundraising efforts are already making a difference to the lives of these families. There is a long way to go to the £15,000 Appeal target and to ensure we achieve it every FARA shop will be running individual fundraising activities throughout the summer - not to mention a massive online charity auction planned for September.

FARA's 2015 Appeal will end just before Christmas by which time we will ensure that these 13 families and their children will enjoy St. Nicholas day in warm homes (it can reach minus twenty degrees in Romania) with a lot more hope for what the New Year will bring.

To see Ela's charity parachute jump video


Is your wardrobe still able to close or are you holding onto too much? Go on admit it; most of us are guilty! With fast fashion trends shifting weekly, the traditional fashion seasons of autumn/winter and spring/summer are no more. It’s hard to resist picking up something when high-street stores regularly receive in deliveries of new styles weekly. Old clothes get shifted to the back of the wardrobe right next to the clothes we still love but no longer fit into. Yes, most of us have them!

According to WRAP* the contents of the average household wardrobe are worth £4000 and typically 30% of that clothing has been unused for one year, most commonly because it no longer fits.

An article from the Daily Mail* states that the average woman has about 22 garments in her wardrobe that she will never wear but refuses to get rid of! Across the country, in total women spend more than £1.6million on more than 500 million items of clothing they will never wear. If they were to be placed on a rail, the estimated amount of unworn clothing would stretch 15,534 miles.

This is why FARA Shops encourage you to ‘re-dress the balance of your wardrobe’. Donate those old frocks to your local shop; let go of the ones you love but no longer fit into and create space in your wardrobe for that dress you’ve had your eye on in FARA’s window. Re-dressing the balance of your wardrobe enables you to buy out of fast fashion and into sustainability.

Charity shops play a significant role in making fashion sustainable by extending the life span of clothing already in existence and thereby reducing the demand for the manufacture of new clothes. By choosing #secondhandfirst you not only are supporting FARA’s vital work in Romania you are also joining #FashRev.

* ‘Valuing our clothes: the evidence base, ‘ WRAP, 2012




This pretty much sums up every conversation I have had with Kristian, Shop Manager at RETROMANIA London FARA's vintage and designer shop in Victoria. His Midlands twang and enthused chatter about the latest amazing vintage designer piece to hang on the shops rails is always engaging – an expert on fashion history, with an infallible nose for current trends, a designer and maker Kristian is one of life’s originals, a one off like all the pieces he sells at RETROMANIA. My long abiding image of Kristian is slightly flustered in a Hans Solo-esque outfit at a Christmas party - straight from circa 1971 – wearing a Battle Star Galactica brown cloak that Madonna certainly couldn’t pull off.

Kristian comes from a line of memorable personalities who have run this unforgettable shop. RETROMANIA is an eccentric, unapologetic Aladdin’s cave of vintage items all donated to FARA charity shops. Displayed with colourful flare and impeccable knowledge visiting RETROMANIA is a must for anyone who just loves clothes. If you are looking for a ‘not on the high street’ WOW piece that no one else will have then RETROMANIA is the place to go. And they do… it is often frequented by stylists. RETROMANIA’s clothes have graced the red carpet on more than one occasion.

RETROMANIA is an experience, a farrago of clothing from pre-war to 1990's, of ephemera and oddities; the shop oozes vintage - classic labels such as YSL Rive Gauche, Balmain, Balenciga, to a name a few. Prices reflect age, wear and rarity. If it is a retro bargain you want then head to FARA Islington. Kristian personally selects all the ‘retro’ items that would end up on RETROMANIA's famous sale rail and since March he has been sending them as ‘retro-to-go-go’ to our most recently opened FARA shop only five minutes from Angel tube station. Mixed in with the retro rails are broken designer items that go for a song and just need a little loving attention. This streamlining of stock means RETROMANIA London is a now a thorough-bred pure vintage affair – charming, quirky and, of course, rather groovy…

RETROMANIA London, 6 Upper Tachbrook Street, Victoria SW1V 1SH
020 7630 7406

FARA Charity Shops 2015 Appeal
Raising The Roof On Poverty

Ten miles away from the nearest proper road, sixty families share a well in a village where the houses are patched up with plastic. Sanitation barely exists and disease goes untreated with little or no medical support. This is the situation right now in Europe in the forgotten village of Bahna Arini in a remote part of North-East Romania.

Why is FARA Shops ‘Raising The Roof On Poverty’?

The village of Bahna Arini is in Suceava District a very rural and remote part of Romania where economic opportunities and infrastructure are limited. Many families, and children in particular, are affected by high unemployment, alcoholism, domestic violence and family breakup caused by work migration. The families are isolated and live in terrible conditions with little access to services that even one of Europe's poorest countries take for granted. The children of this community are destined to continue in a life of extreme poverty with limited educational provision. There is no transport to schools and many of them don’t even have shoes. FARA is working to change this and has provided support to communities in the Suceava region for over 20 years. FARA Foundation is deeply committed to its rural development programmes.

FARA will Raise The Roof On Poverty by:

Lifting the chances of the kids in these areas, breaking the poverty cycle by encouraging them to stay in school - tackling poverty through education. School dropout rates, beginning at primary school level, are very high. For every year of education achieved, the chance of a child ending up in poverty reduces by 5%. FARA will continue to provide targeted support to the families of these children. It organises after-school classes where some of the children are given extra tuition and help with their homework. FARA's incentives to education are in the form of food (a daily nutritious hot meal – for most of the children this is their only meal that day.) FARA will expand this provision to a wider number of children in 2015 including nursery/reception age children.

FARA will literally raise the roof on poverty by helping families to improve their homes (houses may lack a proper roof, windows, or heating.) Also by supplying them with essential equipment to improve their quality of living from starter packs of seeds to cooking utensils.

It is simple: FARA aims to provide vitally needed support to this village community which in the past has been totally lacking. Deprivation is a vicious cycle. Lack of work creates family poverty which undermines education which, in turn hinders employability. The challenge for FARA is to break the cycle. But while we are at it, a hot meal is a good start to lift community morale.

If you would like to support FARA's 2015 Appeal you can donate money in any of our shops or via

Handouts not long term solutions?

Is there a role for handouts? That’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves in the FARA Charity office. This isn’t a theoretical discussion, it’s a real issue. Staff in Romania have located a ‘forgotten village’, ten miles away from the nearest proper road, hooked up to none of the services that even one of Europe’s poorest countries takes for granted. Sixty families share a single well. Houses are patched up with plastic. Sanitation barely exists and disease is rife. So what to do? Well, FARA has started to provide a hot meal each day for every child. We’ve also arranged for some of the children to have their first haircuts in months. And there’s so much more we could provide. But should we go on? Won’t all this free provision just encourage a ‘culture of dependency’? Shouldn’t we be focusing on long-term solutions? It’s a dilemma many charities face.

Actually all this is a bit like the ‘medication versus therapy’ debate. Here, as there, we need to get away from here ‘either-or’ thinking. Sometimes people just need a good pick-me-up while longer term issues are addressed. And this is exactly what we’re now planning. The meals will continue, but we’re now also working with local professionals to provide basic education – so some adults can get a driving licence for the first time in their lives, and find work in nearby towns. We’ll also look at pre-school education, to nip disadvantage in the bud. Then there’s a need for ‘starter packs’ of seeds so that families can start to grow their own food. The point is: deprivation is a vicious cycle. Lack of work creates family poverty which undermines education … which hinders employability. The challenge for FARA is to break the cycle. But while we’re at it, hot meals and haircuts are a great way of building up community morale!

For the latest FARA Charity news visit

The FARA Workshop
....closes its doors for the final time.

Sadly, The FARA Workshop closed at the end of February 2015 just fourteen months after opening. This pioneering project was a bold departure from FARA’s core model of charity retailing that has proved successful since the early 1990’s. The FARA Workshop took donated garments and fabrics that otherwise would be ragged and reworked them into a contemporary collection designed, made and sold in store. Meeting the makers at the Workshop in Islington, meant customers built a unique connection with the story of their clothing whilst supporting a charitable cause.

Within one year of trading the combined creative force of the Workshop team under FARA's guidance crafted and established an outstanding brand taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle the excesses of our throw-away society whilst embracing the social responsibility to make a difference to the lives of others. Unfortunately, brand success was not matched by economic success and with maximum charitable contribution paramount to FARA's business; the decision was taken to cease operations.

Thank you to everyone who supported this courageous concept. The FARA Workshop demonstrated FARA's forward thinking, its commitment to do things better in the future by tackling the issue of diminished resources head on and by making the most of your donations at every opportunity. Fabric and haberdashery donated to FARA will continue to be put to good use through collaborations with commercial companies as well as local social enterprises.

The FARA Workshop label still continues until the last piece is sold. Its unique collection of hand crafted clothing & accessories made from fabrics kindly donated to FARA are exclusively available from FARA Shops in Chiswick, Clapham and Notting Hill.

A Bear Called Paddington
FARA's First Online Charity Auction

Sprung from the page of the Michael Bond book in 1958, Paddington bounced onto the big screen in 2014, rekindling the nation’s love for the young Peruvian bear who travelled to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a home.

Paddington's story is very close to FARA's heart (fara means ‘a family for those without’) and when FARA Kids in Richmond Bridge was donated a beautiful original Paddington Bear in September 2014, we knew he was a very special gift and it was worth making every effort to find him a home with someone who really wanted him.

We decided to auction Paddington Bear on eBay to ensure we raised as much money as possible whilst also taking the opportunity to raise awareness of FARA Charity. As planned, the eBay auction coincided with the film premiere (the auction ended just after the Paddington film was released on 29th November 2014) and well-timed marketing news of the auction quickly spread on social media. We were thrilled when the NSPCC - responsible for the fundraising Paddington Bear trail - shared the tweet about our auction to their 140,000 #Twitter followers! We were sad to say goodbye to Paddington but he raised an incredible sum with all proceeds from the sale going directly to the FARA Foundation.

The Battersea Banksy

On a bland grey wall at the end Clapham’s Northcote Road very early in the morning, a small dark-clad figure is busy with a spray can as hordes of school children on the top deck of the bus look on. In less than an hour, a new image of hope appears! The ‘Banksy-esque’ stencil on the side of FARA’s Clapham shop transformed the Banksy street art: ‘NO FUTURE,’ into something altogether more positive. Within minutes of it appearing, photos posted on Twitter with local residents excitedly asking if it was the genuine article. Next stop local BBC and ITV news…

The first call of the morning to FARA Head Office was from a journalist at South London Press. At this point we had to confess it was a Banksy of a sort as it was created by Jemma Banks, FARA’s Marketing Manager. She had the genius idea of creating the homage after being given the challenge to design something eye-catching for the shops exterior wall. By doctoring the image Banksy’s ‘NO FUTURE’ mural with an arresting positive twist it would reflect FARA’s vision of transforming the lives of disadvantaged children in Romania. It was great PR for FARA Shops and another sign that they like to do things just a little bit differently.

A colleague said:

“Seeing the hours of time Jemma spent studying the original Banksy artwork – painstakingly sketching the image, hand cutting the stencil, and finally the practicalities of getting the piece on the wall - has given me a new appreciation for Banksy’s work. I also think Jemma is a really talented artist in her own right.”

What did Jemma say to the journalist when asked about the speculation surrounding the artwork?

“I’m amazed and flattered that people thought this is a genuine Banksy; maybe it’s time to give up the day job!”