"Volunteering at the shop made me feel accepted and useful"

Having recently moved to the Derby area, Elizabeth Meakin found that volunteering at her local Sue Ryder charity shop was the perfect way not only to meet people and boost her confidence but change her career.

Elizabeth was surprised at how easy it was to fit into the team.

When I came to live in Derby to be with my partner, I found it too hard and expensive to commute to and from Nottingham for work.

I spent two years looking for a more local job – and failing to find another catering role that offered a good work/home life balance – before we made the decision (for my health and sanity!) for me to resign and look for a job in the area full time.

The job centre suggested volunteering as a way to keep busy and gain new experience while I was job-hunting, and helped me to find a local placement at the Sue Ryder Allestree charity shop.

Developing my confidence

On my first day volunteering, I had no idea what to expect. I had very little experience with tills and had no idea what happens in the back of a charity shop. But the manager showed me the basics and worked with me to develop my confidence.

I soon found I was looking forward to my days working with the other volunteers and meeting customers. This was really good for me as I knew very few people in the area.

Volunteering “turned into a chat with friends”

Volunteering at the shop turned into a chat with friends, sharing our stories and problems.

I was surprised how easy it was to fit in. There are volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, which meant I never felt like the outsider; we were so different but all working together towards a common goal. I found friends to socialise with and others that I can talk to about anything as well as have a laugh with.

More training and responsibility

I enjoyed the work so much and wanted to help more so the manager suggested I become a Lead Volunteer. This meant more responsibility and new challenges.

I worked side by side with a different manager for a few weeks being trained in all the things I would be responsible for as a Lead Volunteer. 

When I was fully trained in everything, I was let loose to take care of the shop on my own, gradually gaining more and more experience and confidence.

Moving into a paid role

Then, six months after I first started, another shop needed a supervisor.

I applied for the role, and because of my experience I got the job and have been working for Sue Ryder since the end of January 2018. I love it.

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Blog author

Elizabeth Meakin

Volunteer turned Shop Supervisor

Elizabeth Meakin