We have several shops and tea rooms all over the UK, and these rely heavily on our wonderful shop volunteers. If you can spare some time, from a few hours a month to a few days a week, please contact the shop you wish to volunteer for by clicking here or phone 01322 286587.
David Goodwin has been volunteering in the Otford gift shop for 18 months. He has been retired for 20 years and has tried his hand at every trade including farming and green grocery. David had aspirations to help Audrey to expand the plant outlet and to include the sale of fruit and vegetables. Loving David tends his plants “You have to treat plants like your friend, talk to them and nurture them.” David grows everything that he sells in his own back garden and all the money made goes to our charity. He is also registered as a Gift Aid donor, David has already raised over £1600 in the short time that he has been with us and his generosity and dedication to our work is inspirational.
Perhaps it is young first-time job seekers who have been hit hardest by the recession. To finish school or college and begin working life in the Job Centre is demoralising and can mean entering a rut that is very difficult to escape. For Emma Dalton who is 21, volunteering in Hospices of Hope’s Maidstone shop has turned that situation around. After leaving college Emma struggled to find work and eventually had to go for job-seekers allowance. It is now compulsory for 18-24 year olds who have been receiving job-seekers allowance for 6 months and are at stage 3 of their job search, to enrol in Community Task Force. The job centre recommends an organisation for the job-seeker to use in order to find a voluntary community placement. Emma was advised to use the organisation ‘Tomorrow’s People’ who have been supported by the government to support this scheme. Through Tomorrows People, Emma listed her interests, skills and abilities so they could best place her for work experience in the community. She was placed in the Hospices of Hope shop and began her 13 week placement; however after the end of the placement she has continued to volunteer in the shop 3 days a week despite no longer receiving travel expenses from Tomorrow’s People.
Emma assured me that at school she was painfully shy yet here was a young lady who was confident, smiley and chatty. I couldn’t believe that she hadn’t always been outgoing and asked her what brought about this change. Emma attributes the transformation to a teacher in college who encouraged her to speak in front of the class and to volunteering for Hospices of Hope. Indeed, working in a charity shop does not seem the most glamorous of jobs so I asked Emma what it was that she loved so much about it – “the working environment” she said. The opportunity to work with different people of different generations (and charity shops do of course have many retired volunteers) when she had previously only worked with those her own age. I think there is a lot to be said for working with older people – often they are wise and they generally have an excellent work ethos which is beneficial for young people to emulate. A once shy and uncertain young girl is now trained and competent in all areas of the shop, enjoys interacting with customers and “having a laugh” with the other team members in the staff room.
Emma would like to work as a Prison Officer because she loves working with people – a complete turnaround; she now hates working in an office without much contact with others. I have no doubt that Emma will make an excellent Prison Officer and she will be successful in her career and in life. I am impressed by the success of this government-implemented scheme and it looks to be a really positive influence for young people and their communities. Volunteering can really boost a person’s confidence: it re-motivates them, equips them with new skills and provides them with a reference for their CV. I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to volunteer, it may not seem fantastic but you may be amazed how life-changing it can be to give something to your community.
I came to the UK from Turkey in June 2008 and decided almost immediately that I needed to do something useful to fill my spare time. I looked for jobs but new that I would struggle with my lack of English skills.
I decided to pop into the Volunteer Centre in Sevenoaks to see if they could help. They sent my details on to Gill, one of the team at the Hospices of Hope tea room in Otford. Gill phoned and offered me a volunteer role in the tea rooms to cover holidays and sickness within her team. I was really excited about this opportunity so I accepted her offer!
In March 2009, 6 months after starting my volunteer work, Gill offered me a regular Tuesday shift – I was delighted! They liked me, I liked them and now I would have some consistency in my life too. The Tuesday team are a fantastic group of people and I really look forward to working with them, I feel appreciated, cared for and in a way, protected by the team personally and this feels good. I also thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the public that visit the tea rooms every day.
The Manager of the Tuesday team, Kay, then suggested that I should offer my volunteer services in the Charities Head Office in Otford, where I could involve myself in the events, fundraising and administration. I wanted to learn more about how British office life operated and knew that it would help me develop so many more skills. I was introduced to a few of the team in the office who said that they loved my enthusiasm and desire to do more! So I gained myself a Wednesday volunteer shift as well.
I am still working my Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Hospices of Hope and I really enjoy my time there. Dont be afraid to express your thoughts and ideas to people – I did and by doing so I help with ideas for the Fundraising team; I just took part in a skydive team that jumped from 12,000 feet to raise funds for them. My thoughts became actions!!
Who knows where I amy move on to next – I may look for a full time paid job but I would love to be able to stay with my Tuesday volunteer team, to continue to mix with people who want to give something back to such a good cause.
Come and join us, be one of us, help us to make every day count..