East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) is launching a campaign to address the biggest challenge faced by its shops in their first month back trading.
We need YOU has been set up to help EACH keep its 43 outlets across Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Herts and Norfolk open and raising vital funds, after a year in which disruption caused by the pandemic has left the charity forecasting a deficit.
Sarah Throssell, EACH Acting Head of Retail, said: “With many of our shop volunteers currently unable to lend a hand owing to the effects of the pandemic, the number of hours’ support we ordinarily receive is down more than 50%.
“Our shops simply cannot run and raise the millions of pounds they normally do without the generosity of volunteers, and as more and more families exhausted from shielding reach out for support it’s never been so important.”
Some of EACH’s existing volunteers have been sharing what they do and why they love supporting the good cause.
Jane Rogers, 68, a retired teacher, has been volunteering at EACH’s shop in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, for two to three years, spending at least two days a week helping out. She usually sorts and prices donations as she “really loves something that comes in looking rather messy, giving it a good old wash and a clean-up, then the satisfaction of no sooner than you’ve put it on the shelf somebody’s bought it”.
Jane recalled: “I went for a trial hour and ended up staying the whole afternoon. I just really enjoy it. It gives you some sort of purpose and sense of satisfaction.
“I think there’s an awful lot of people who don’t like to push themselves forward in case they’re not good enough or something, but actually there’s a role for everybody. It’s not demanding because tasks can be suited to people’s capabilities. Everybody’s very, very friendly and helpful, and there’s just a nice, fun atmosphere. You have a good laugh, including with the customers because we have quite a lot of regulars who you get to know by name and that’s great. I missed it when we had to close down.”
Husband and wife Trevor and June Lane, 63 and 67 respectively, have volunteered at EACH’s Halesworth shop for a couple of years. They do a variety of days and shifts, and carry out a variety of tasks, giving as much as they can to help keep the shop running smoothly.
Trevor said: “June and I moved here five years ago and working in the shop has been a nice way to meet people, and get to know the local area. I’m always amazed at the things people will donate to charity and the quality of the stock in the shop is impressive. I worked as a professional fundraiser for many years, so I thought volunteering in a shop would be a good way to still support the charity sector.
“We wanted to support a local charity and EACH seemed like a good choice as they support children. It’s a great way to give something back to the community and gives you a nice warm feeling knowing your work is helping to support children who need it.”
Colin Lodge, 73, who worked in telecoms before retiring, has supported EACH’s Saxmundham and now Leiston shop for a total of three years. He is currently the Leiston shop’s eBay champion, meaning he lists some of the better donations on EACH’s popular eBay site, to ensure the charity get the best possible return on supporters’ generosity.
“Volunteering does me a lot of good and hopefully the charity some good, too. I wish there were just a few more people who could spare some time. We don’t do too badly, but with a little bit of help we could get on even better!”
Colin’s efforts to support EACH continued whilst shops were shut as he collected sewing machines, checking, testing and cleaning them up, before using knowledge of eBay developed at the Saxmundham and Leiston shops to sell them on his own account and donate the proceeds.
Hannah Milbourne, EACH Volunteer Services and Development Manager, said: “There are so many tasks to do in our shops, from sorting donations and running the till to testing electrical goods and listing items on our eBay shop. We also need helpers at our retail distribution centre and main eBay base, both in Thetford. No previous experience is required and even just a couple of hours a week makes a big difference. Volunteers are at the heart of what we do at EACH, so a friendly welcome is guaranteed!”
EACH is offering taster shifts for anyone interested in lending a hand. These can be arranged by speaking to the manager of your nearest EACH shop, at www.each.org.uk/weneedyou or by contacting EACH Volunteer Services on 01223 205183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on becoming a retail volunteer and a full list of EACH shop locations, phone numbers and safety measures are available on the charity’s website.