A dedicated mum says volunteering in a charity shop has helped her regain identity and confidence. Kim Oliff is a regular at the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) shop in Dovercourt and can normally be found there on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
It is a role she loves and partly because it has helped her find her feet after so many years as a stay-at-home mum.
“I reached a point where I wanted something different,” said Kim, who has three children.
“Obviously, I don’t regret being a stay-at-home mum and family always comes first. I loved having time to be with my children and being part of their world. However, when you’re in that position, it can become easy to lose your identity.
“It can leave you feeling isolated and all my friends were other mums, so we’d invariably end up talking about our children. I missed being part of a typical work environment and having everyday adult conversations.
“I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, especially other mums and dads who may relate to my situation. I’ve said as much to people and have even commented and given advice in a local Facebook group. A mum was saying similar things, about feeling isolated, so I said she should consider volunteering.”
Kim, 44, had dabbled with volunteering before joining EACH. She became a community first responder and volunteered for family support movement Home-Start UK.
She also contemplated coming to the EACH shop in Dovercourt when it opened in March 2019. However, she decided it was the wrong time because her children were too young.
That changed a couple of years ago, when deciding to take the plunge and join the team.
“I wanted to do something worthwhile, to give something back to the community,” said Kim, who was speaking during EACH’s ‘Be the difference’ campaign – a volunteer recruitment drive running until the end of October.
“It was time for me to do something for me again, rather than just being ‘mum’. I didn’t know who I was anymore and had to figure that out. I wanted to find myself again.
“I was a bit nervous to start with, as anyone would be. I didn’t know what I was going to be asked to do or what would be expected of me. However, those nerves disappeared almost straight away and I settled in immediately because everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
“Since then, it’s become an important part of my life and everyone’s lovely. I absolutely love it and always look forward to coming in.
“I don’t ever wake up and think ‘oh no, I’m in the shop again today’ and, more often than not, I’m happy to do extra hours whenever I’m asked. Coming here puts a smile on my face and has given me a new lease of life.
“Even if I’m having a down day, I know my friends at the shop will cheer me up and I would have struggled otherwise. Coming here is definitely a mood-lifter and I don’t know where I’d be without it.”
Kim, who lives in Dovercourt, is joined in the shop by her 16-year-old son, Samuel, on Saturdays. She says it has given him confidence and he particularly enjoys sorting through donations of books and DVDs.
For more information about volunteering, speak to a member of staff in-store or contact volunteer services on 01223 205183. Alternatively, email email@example.com
To find your nearest EACH shop, head here.