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Maslows Community Shop - a first step on the ladder for those in need

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes how people can only achieve a state of happiness and wellbeing once their basic needs for food, shelter and safety are met.  

This was the inspiration behind the naming of Maslows Community Shop in Govan, Glasgow, established as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in February 2016 by Steve Westerman, his partner Carol Gilchrist and fellow director Jeanette Graham.

The shop provides free clothing and toiletries to refugees, asylum seekers and local people facing hardship, as well as selling items to raise money to fund the shop. 

Refugees are referred via organisations including Migrant Help, the Red Cross and Govan Help and are given vouchers to spend in the shop every month. 

This continues until they have legal status when, hopefully, they can begin moving further up the ‘hierarchy of needs’.

Clothing is donated by the local community and funds raised for sales are used to buy toiletries and underwear for those in need.

Steve was an engineer for 25 years in the North Sea before spending six years working in Syria. “I met some lovely people out there,” Steve says. “When I came back home I knew I wanted to give something back to the people who helped me.”

Together with Carol and Jeanette, who both have a background as social workers, they set up Maslow’s – originally from their own home but eventually taking over an existing community shop which had closed. From the start the team were committed to working with suppliers who shared their values.

“We searched for ethical telecoms providers and The Phone Co-op was there,” said Steve. “We signed up for telephone and broadband and everything has gone really smoothly – we’re delighted with the service.

“We use the broadband in the shop so that refugees and asylum seekers can search the net to find out about organisations which can help them.”

Steve’s engineering background comes in useful as he can repair donated electrical items as well as carry our PAT testing to ensure safety standards are met. In addition, the shop holds English lessons, delivered by volunteers, for refugees and asylum seekers – a vital skill to help them integrate and find homes and jobs in the UK. 

“The demand for stuff is rising,” says Steve. “We serve about 30-35 people a day, about three-quarters of them asylum seekers or refugees and the remainder local residents in need. 

“That’s one of the reasons we set up as a CIC - we needed to hit the ground running. If we’d set up as a charity it would have taken us much longer to get the doors open and start helping people.”

For more information on CICs and how they operate, read our blog. If you’d like to find out more about Maslow’s Community Shop, visit their Facebook page.