Two hard-working charity shop helpers have spoken of the fulfilment and sense of purpose they get from volunteering. Jan Parslow Williams and Kerryn Spanton spare time to lend a hand in East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices’ (EACH) Poringland shop.
Jan has been volunteering for five years and says it helped “fill a void” after three decades as a home carer. The 75-year-old was forced to retire due to ill health but admits helping in the shop has given her a new lease of life.
Kerryn, meanwhile, has been volunteering since June. She says it has given her something to focus on after her husband died in December 2021.
Jan, who was reluctantly forced to call time on her career after having a coronary stent procedure, said: “I missed it so much. It left a real void and took me a long while to adjust to life without my career.
“I felt awful because I’d always loved my job and didn’t want to give up. I found out about EACH when my grandson, Oscar, volunteered for his Duke of Edinburgh Award.
“I was asked if I’d like to go into the shop and thought I might as well give it a go. Five years later, I’m still here! I absolutely love it and it’s nice being back in a work environment.
“There’s such a strong community feel – we have fun and it’s lovely meeting different people and hearing their stories. It’s incredibly sociable and sometimes I get to see people I previously cared for. It’s great to be reunited and hear how they’re doing.”
Jan has four sons and ten grandchildren – three of whom have previously volunteered at the shop. She says she enjoys meeting new people and would encourage anyone to give volunteering a try.
“I love coming into work and always look forward to it,” she said.
“Everyone’s friendly and volunteering is something I’d recommend to anyone, especially people on their own. It’s great companionship and there are so many different things people can do.
“I love having so many people to talk to.”
Like Jan, Kerryn says volunteering has given her a fresh sense of purpose.
“It’s given me something to focus on,” said the 54-year-old.
“I feel part of something again and enjoy being in such a lovely, friendly and supportive environment. I’ll always make myself available and come in whenever I can. Everyone does it because they want to be here.
“Unfortunately, I’m not able to work full-time anymore because of poor health so coming here, even just for a few hours or half a day, suits me down to the ground.
“I love everything about it, especially the interaction with customers. It’s great meeting people and the social aspect means every single shift is enjoyable and rewarding.
“It’s definitely something I’d recommend to others.”
For more information about volunteering, speak to a member of staff in-store or contact volunteer services on 01223 205183. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan (left) and Kerryn (right) are pictured with fellow Poringland volunteer Kate Williamson.