Kath Emmett is living proof that shop volunteering can provide a stepping stone into paid employment.
The 61-year-old gave up her time to start helping at the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) shop in Saxmundham last May.
She took to it like a duck to water and was duly offered the role of relief manager, starting in November.
Kath describes it as “challenging but enjoyable” and says she would recommend volunteering to others – especially those with ambitions to work in the retail industry.
She was speaking during EACH’s We Need You campaign, which started last week and runs until tomorrow. The aim is to encourage others to step forward and give up their time by volunteering in one of the charity’s 44 shops across East Anglia.
Kath, who lives in Saxmundham and has 12 grandchildren, said: “I started volunteering for EACH after losing my husband the previous October.
“I’d been his carer for many years and knew I had to do something to get myself back out there, so to speak.
“It’s something I wanted to do, too, because I’ve never been one to sit around. I was ready to get back in the swing of things.
“Having been shielding with my husband for so long, I was a bit nervous to start with but being in the shop undoubtedly helped.
“It gave me a bit of confidence back so there were lots of reasons why it helped and why I’d recommend it to others.”
Kath had worked in the retail sector for many years and, by last autumn, felt in a position to start seeking full-time employment.
By chance, the role of relief manager became available and she got the job.
“It’s been great,” she said.
“Although I’d done something similar in the past, I’ve had lots to learn.
“It’s been challenging but very enjoyable and it’s done me the world of good.
“It’s also great being part of something as special as EACH.
“Myself and my husband have always tried to support charities by getting involved with fundraisers so to now work for one – particularly one that supports children – is very special.”