“I really think I’ve found my calling!” Volunteering in a Sue Ryder charity shop

When Dale Anderson joined the team at Sue Ryder’s Nottingham Goose Gate charity shop he was looking for work experience in the retail sector, but what he found was so much more. He tells us about their 'shop family', the joys of volunteering and why volunteering with Sue Ryder is close to his heart.

Senior Lead Volunteer Dale Anderson in the Sue Ryder Goose Gate shop in Nottingham.

One big family

Dale, 22, who is also a carer for his dad, described his shop colleagues as a ‘massive family’ and has grown in confidence so much that he is now a Senior Lead Volunteer.

“I really think I’ve found my calling! I have always had an interest in retail and that’s what drew me to the store. It was pure chance that it was a Sue Ryder store really, but then I read up on the charity and found some really personal connections. A lot of people in my family have had cancer and my dad has Multiple Sclerosis, so I’m here for all for the right reasons and I want to help in any way I can.”

“It was pure chance that it was a Sue Ryder store really, but then I read up on the charity and found some really personal connections”

Dale started volunteering at the shop a year ago and after quickly finding his feet now helps with recruiting and training new volunteers, and opening up the shop in the mornings.

“I’m a carer for my dad at home and he has good days and bad days, but everyone at the shop is really understanding. This was his idea really. I needed to get out of the house and he told me to go and do it. I would do more days with Sue Ryder if I could. At 22, I’m the youngest at the shop. I started in October last year so it’s coming up to a year, but we’ve obviously spent four months of that at home.”

Dale Anderson in the Sue Ryder Goose Gate shop in Nottingham, wearing his face mask.

Returning to the shop

After the Covid-19 lockdown forced the charity shop to close in March, it reopened six weeks ago with the team working hard to make it a safe space for staff, volunteers and customers.

“I have been at home for four months so I was desperate to go back, but also quite hesitant. When I got the email about the store opening again I thought, 'Am I ready for this?' But the day we went back our manager Sophie clearly explained everything to us and made us feel really safe. We have all the right equipment and markings on the floor.

“I’m doing more hours now than I was before lockdown so I have really thrown myself into it!”

“Because Goose Gate is also a furniture store we have had to completely move the store around to make sure that people can socially distance. I thought it might take me a while to feel comfortable but actually it’s been great and our customers are all really understanding. I’m doing more hours now than I was before lockdown so I have really thrown myself into it!”

Located in Nottingham's vibrant Creative Quarter, the Sue Ryder Goose Gate charity shop specialises in vintage and retro goods, ranging from clothing and vinyl to furniture and haberdashery.

“I love it because every day is different”

“I love it because every day is different. We’re one of several different charity shops in the area but we try to be as unique and different as we can. There are a lot of volunteers with a big interest in the vintage and retro items so I’m learning more every day!

“I think the shop is a real safe haven. When I’m there I’m focused on what needs doing so it’s a great distraction. I was given extra responsibilities quite quickly and then there was the opening for a lead volunteer and I’m so glad I said yes. My colleagues are also great. They have all been so supportive and helpful and that’s another reason why I’m doing more hours. We are just like a massive family that support each other and help each other out.

“The staff, the volunteers, and especially my Dad, know how much the store now means to me”

“I can see myself staying at Goose Gate for a long time because not only is every day different, but the care and support that I have received from Soph, Jake and Chlo has been extraordinary. The staff, the volunteers, and especially my Dad, know how much the store now means to me. Every second is a joy!”

Volunteer with Sue Ryder

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Photo of Dale in the Sue Ryder charity shop

Lead Shop Volunteer

Dale Anderson

Dale has been volunteering at Sue Ryder's Goose Gate charity shop in Nottingham for over a year.