“I’m not one to sit at home twiddling my thumbs” – why dedicated Sheila is passionate about volunteering for EACH

Retired nurse Sheila Spencer says she is thankful for overhearing a conversation about volunteering opportunities in Woodbridge. It was around the time that the town’s East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) shop opened in Hamblin Road, in November 2019. Sheila heard the team were looking for volunteers and duly offered her services. More than two years later, she has not looked back and lends a hand in the popular shop every Monday morning.

“I overheard a conversation about the new shop and it was clear they were on the lookout for volunteers,” said Sheila. “I popped in straight away and started after Christmas, in the January. I’m so glad I did because it’s something I thoroughly enjoy. I’m not one to sit at home twiddling my thumbs and it’s a great start to my week.

“I’ve always enjoyed being around people and, in my working life, never liked the thought of being stuck at a desk. I liked the busy environment of the hospital and like being around people here. I particularly enjoy sorting through all the clothing and bric-a-brac and that’s something I’d stress to anyone interested in volunteering. You can always find something that suits your interests and skills.”

Sheila, who lives just outside Woodbridge, worked as a full-time staff nurse at Ipswich Hospital. Initially, she helped out with EACH’s Help at Home service, which involves going into a family’s home and providing vital practical support with things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, sibling support, decorating and DIY. However, while happy to help, she prefers being around people in the EACH shop.

“The team and customers are lovely here,” she said. “I like meeting and chatting to new people and think people have the wrong idea about charity shops. They think it’s a bit of a jumble sale and a free for all, perhaps as it might have been many years ago, but our shops are nothing like that. It’s lovely here and I think more people should come to us rather than looking for cheap, mass-produced things elsewhere.”

Sheila lives next to her daughter and four grandchildren while her son is based in Woodbridge.

Meanwhile, Woodbridge manager Emma Needs says she would love to hear from more people interested in lending a hand at her shop, which is open from 9.15am to 5.15pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. “All the money raised in our shops goes towards our vital care services and volunteering is something I’d recommend to anyone,” she said. “It allows you to be sociable and feel valued, working in an environment where you feel safe and supported. We have a passionate, dedicated team who work tirelessly for the cause.

“However, we’re always looking for more pairs of hands and it would be great to hear from anyone who might be able to get on board. It may be they can only spare a couple of hours a week but anything will help enormously and make a huge difference. There’s always lots going on and it’s a friendly atmosphere, giving everyone the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and use their existing ones.

“Volunteers (like Tash Terry, pictured) are at the heart of what we do, so a friendly welcome is guaranteed.”

To find out more about volunteering in Woodbridge, pop into the shop in Hamblin Road, email emma.needs@each.org.uk or call 01394 337271.

For information about volunteering in any of EACH’s other shops or wider volunteering roles within EACH, head here.

Notes to Editors

  • We care for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, and support their families.
  • We offer families flexibility and control over where they receive their care and support, including where their child dies – at home, in hospital or at one of three hospices at Milton (Cambridge), The Nook (Norfolk) and The Treehouse (Ipswich).
  • Our family-centred approach includes specialist nursing care, symptom management support, short breaks, wellbeing activities, therapies and counselling, all meeting the individual needs of the child, young person and whole family.
  • We are recognised as leaders in our field, with a reputation for excellence and commitment to pioneering development and innovation.
  • We rely on voluntary donations for the majority of our income and this year need to raise £5.5 million from fundraising and £5.4 million in income from our shops. The year before the pandemic we received just 16% of our total income from statutory sources.
  • EACH Royal Patron – Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

Keep in touch:


For further information about this release please contact:
Matt Plummer | Media and PR Manager | 07738 328058 | Matt.Plummer@each.org.uk


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