Go for it – you won’t regret it!
That’s the advice of charity shop worker Rob Brown, who says he would recommend volunteering to anyone.
Rob is a valued member of the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) team at Angora Park, in Peartree Road, Stanway, Colchester.
His working life saw him employed by a small telecoms company for nine years before spending a decade reading meters for Eastern Electricity.
However, after retiring early and starting to volunteer, he has learnt plenty about the world of retail.
It is a role he would heartily recommend, saying it could prove a stepping stone to paid employment, and Rob was speaking during EACH’s We Need You campaign – a fortnight-long drive to recruit more volunteers for its 44 shops scattered across East Anglia.
“I love the flexibility and started volunteering in 2010,” he said.
“Prior to joining EACH I volunteered for Arthritis Research UK for eight years, until the charity closed its shops. As well as EACH, I also currently work at the Farleigh Hospice shop, in Boreham.
“I think it’s important to have structure in your life and working here gives me that.
“I’ve made a lot of friends and it’s a very social place to work. We’re like one big happy family. Everyone gets on and it’s very enjoyable.
“It’s satisfying just feeling useful and volunteering is definitely something I’d recommend
“Obviously it depends on people’s circumstances but if they have some free time, I’d say ‘go for it – you won’t regret it’.
“It gives you a chance to learn new skills. Before volunteering I’d never thought about working in a shop or retail environment. This role has given me that opportunity.”
Rob, who lives in Stanway and works on Monday and Friday afternoons, has been working at the Angora Park shop since just after it opened in December 2018.
He particularly enjoys dealing with the store’s books and media sections but is happy to chip in as and when needed, arranging and displaying bric-a-brac and toys and serving customers on the till.
“It’s something I’d recommend to youngsters or anyone struggling to find employment,” added Rob.
“You learn to be part of a team, working collectively, serving customers and dealing with people, and that’s a great experience.
“It can potentially lead to paid work and could prove a real selling point for anyone applying for work in the retail sector.
“With volunteering you can pick and choose your hours and have a big say in what you do, which allows you to focus and build confidence without being weighed down by pressure.”