A quartet of hard-working volunteers have spoken of the fun and friendship they have discovered since joining forces to support a leading charity shop.
Lyndon Holmes, Lesley Parmenter, Joan Overett and Val Wiseman spare an afternoon a week to lend their services at the new East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) store in Connaught Avenue, Frinton.
All four find it satisfying and rewarding but also great fun and sociable. They say they would actively encourage others to follow suit and consider joining the team.
Lyndon, Lesley and Val have been helping since the shop opened in May while Joan joined more recently, having previously volunteered for five years at the EACH shop in Framlingham.
Former hairdresser Lesley, who enjoys looking after the bric-a-brac section, said: “Volunteering is something I thoroughly enjoy. It gets me out of the house and it’s nice meeting people and making friends. I look forward to seeing the others and catching-up.
“Everyone seems to enjoy visiting our shop and customers are always overwhelmingly positive and complimentary. They always say how bright, attractive and colourful it is.”
Lesley, 78, and Val, 74, previously volunteered at the SENSE shop in Frinton.
“It helps give your week a bit of structure, because that’s something you can easily lose when you retire,” said Val, who worked in newspaper advertising and spent more than two decades as a PA in London.
“Otherwise every day can feel the same. Volunteering here is definitely something I’d encourage others to do. I appreciate it can be a brave step, starting something new.
“People can be reluctant to commit and it takes some confidence to come in and offer your services. However, I don’t think anyone would regret it.”
Lyndon is a former district nurse and she believes that in terms of skill sets, everyone brings something different to the table.
“We’ve all got certain skills and interests and it’s nice to invest them in something as positive as this,” said the 70-year-old.
“For instance, I’m an avid reader and love helping customers if they have any particular requests with books. It’s definitely worth stressing that you don’t have to do everything here.
“People have different preferences and some, for instance, are reluctant to use the till. That’s fine because there’s something to suit everyone.”
Like the others, Joan, who previously worked in local government, enjoys the social aspect of volunteering. She says she looks forward to seeing her friends on a Thursday afternoon.
“There are lots of reasons I like it here and it’s nice feeling useful,” said the 75-year-old.
“I also love the social aspect and enjoy chatting to the other ladies. I started because I was feeling a bit down one day and wanted something to do.
“Everyone has been so welcoming and I certainly haven’t had any regrets. It’s nice to feel needed and it’s such a friendly environment.”
Lesley, Joan and Val live in Frinton while Lyndon is based in Walton. New volunteers are welcome to join the team in Frinton. Either pop into the shop, call 01255 440848 or email email@example.com
EACH relies on voluntary donations for the majority of its income and, this year alone, needs to raise £7.8 million from its Retail operation, which includes stores across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.