It’s no secret that charities depend on the hard work of volunteers and Shelter Scotland is no different. In honour of National Volunteer Week, I decided to take a day to tag along with one of our assessors Mark and help out and see the hard work that goes into making these charities run first hand.
Mark introduces me to the store manager Jill who clearly takes pride in her shop looking more like a boutique than what you’d expect from a traditional charity store. She takes me down stairs to meet Joe, who stops steaming new donations to introduce himself. We settle round a table and Gill and Joe joke over who’s turn it is to get the tea and cakes. We get to talking and I find out Gill is the only paid member of staff at the store managing 68 other volunteers, however not all stores are so lucky as she tells me of a local one who is struggling to operate with only 4 volunteers. From talking with Gill, it’s clear running these shops are no easy task with 68 volunteers, let alone 4.
I get my Shelter t-shirt on and Joe takes me upstairs to the flow and explains a few things about the operational side of the shop, one thing I’m surprised to learn from is that he spends a lot of his time watching customers. Who would steal from a charity shop is your natural first thought, and according to Joe, many people. Everyday without fail he says someone will chance their arm, and with prices already so low it’s hard to comprehend the reasoning behind it. Speaking to Jill about it, her passion for helping others is clear as she states ‘If they didn’t have the money and they needed it, I’d buy them it.’
Jill asks if I can help with the window display for National Volunteers Week & I’m more than happy to help. Whilst working on the window another aspect of working in a charity shop becomes clear and it’s how heavily they depend on donations coming through the door. As people bring in bags, they are checked and value is determined and start to slowly fill up an empty donations bay.
As it comes time to leave, it feels like I’ve not done much, but it’s clear how a little help can go a long way as it’s left Gill & Joe time to quickly sort through the new donations. Volunteers are so important to charities like Shelter Scotland, and the a little bit of your time can make a big difference.
If you’d like to find out more about Volunteering for Shelter Scotland click here.