“Volunteer, bide your time and see what happens” – how helping led to paid employment for Paul, Jayne and Maria

Three shop sales assistants have hailed volunteering as a perfect springboard into paid employment.

Paul Watson, Jayne Fry and Maria Clark gave up their time to work in East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) shops in Sheringham, Fakenham and Halesworth respectively.

Now they have been rewarded by becoming paid members of the team.

Paul and Jayne started in their roles earlier this month and Maria in January.

They say volunteering was an ideal launchpad and would recommend it to anyone with designs on a career in retail.

“Things have worked out brilliantly,” said Paul, 53.

“I got involved a couple of years ago, after spotting an advert asking for someone to become an eBay Champion at the EACH shop in Sheringham.

“I have a degree in photography and liked the idea of taking pictures of items to be sold on eBay and Amazon.

“It was great and, in time, I started doing more and more, including working on the till.

“I was at a bit of a loose end and began coming in most days, because I enjoyed it so much.

“I didn’t have any previous retail experience but learnt new skills and loved being around customers.

“Now it’s led to this, working two days a week, and it’s something I’d recommend to anyone.

“First and foremost, it’s a very positive and rewarding feeling working for a charity that supports a children’s hospice.

“However, it’s also a great thing to do on a personal level and I’ve found it extremely beneficial.”

Paul, who lives in the town, works in the shop two days a week, just like Jayne at Fakenham.

She started volunteering two years ago, shortly before COVID struck, in January 2020.

The 61-year-old mum of three, who lives in Dunton, had been made redundant from her job is customer services just before Christmas.

She said: “Losing my job was a huge blow, but I knew I wanted to do something with my time. I didn’t want to be stuck at home.

“As a customer, I’d always loved the shop in Fakenham.

“I’d always found it nice and friendly so jumped at the chance to volunteer, even though I didn’t have any retail experience.

“I was ready for a change and now having this job is fantastic.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air and everyone has been so helpful and supportive.

“I’m over the moon and would definitely recommend it to others. Volunteer, bide your time and see what happens – you won’t regret it.

“Volunteering in a shop like ours is a perfect way to gain experience, hopefully leading to paid employment. It’s about being in the right place at the right time.

“It’ll certainly help career-wise but I also know volunteering makes the world of difference to charities like EACH.”

Maria, 56, was a volunteer in Halesworth, where she lives, but has worked one day a week since January.

She said: “I’d wholeheartedly recommend volunteering to anyone.

“It’s great fun, interesting and gives you the chance to meet some wonderful people, from customers and colleagues.

“There’s a fantastic sense of team spirit and you build strong relationships with people who have a real passion and vested interest in EACH.

“The offer of a paid role was a real bonus and it’s something I’ve enjoyed very much, because it gives you a chance to see things from the other side of the fence.

“It gives you a different perspective and dimension, in terms of the way our shop and the whole organisation is run.

“I didn’t have any retail experience and had spent my working life doing very office, admin-based roles.

“This, in contrast, is much more hands-on and it’s something I’ve enjoyed very much.”

EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

It has 44 shops dotted across East Anglia.

For more information about volunteering, head to www.each.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering or email volunteerservices@each.org.uk

Notes to Editors

“We’d heard about EACH and knew they were a fantastic cause that had supported families we knew, but we never thought we’d be the ones that needed them! Sadly, as fantastic as it is, their service will always be required, and every child who needs their help deserves to have it.”

  • We care for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, and support their families.
  • We offer families flexibility and control over where they receive their care and support, including where their child dies – at home, in hospital or at one of three hospices at Milton (Cambridge), The Nook (Norfolk) and The Treehouse (Ipswich).
  • Our family-centred approach includes specialist nursing care, symptom management support, short breaks, wellbeing activities, therapies and counselling, all meeting the individual needs of the child, young person and whole family.
  • We are recognised as leaders in our field, with a reputation for excellence and commitment to pioneering development and innovation.
  • We rely on voluntary donations for the majority of our income and this year need to raise £5.5 million from fundraising and £5.4 million in income from our shops. The year before the pandemic we received just 16% of our total income from statutory sources.
  • EACH Royal Patron – Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.
  • For more information about EACH, including forthcoming events and how you can help raise funds, visit www.each.org.uk or call the Norfolk fundraising office on 01508 500894.

Keep in touch:


For further information about this release please contact:
Matt Plummer | Media and PR Manager | 07738 328058 | Matt.Plummer@each.org.uk

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