Charity call for shop volunteers in region

Trina Jones has been part of the St Oswalds Morpeth charity shop team for four years.
Trina Jones has been part of the St Oswalds Morpeth charity shop team for four years.

St Oswald’s Hospice has revealed it has an urgent need for 135 more charity shop volunteers across the region.

It has launched its inaugural Retail Volunteer Recruitment Week, which runs until Saturday, in a bid to attract new people to give any spare time they can.

St Oswalds retail area manager, Susan Freeman, is making an urgent plea for shop volunteers on behalf of the charity.

St Oswalds retail area manager, Susan Freeman, is making an urgent plea for shop volunteers on behalf of the charity.

Teams at its shops, including in Northumberland, are showcasing the wide variety of opportunities on offer.

Morpeth resident Trina Jones decided she wanted to volunteer as a way to fill her time after she retired almost five years ago.

When the St Oswald’s charity shop opened on Bridge Street in 2013, a short walk from the former school teacher’s home, she joined the team a couple of months later – giving up her time one morning a week to help out.

The 64-year-old enjoyed volunteering at the shop so much that she took up an extra morning shift. She celebrated her fourth year in the role last month.

She gets involved in a variety of tasks, both behind-the-scenes such as getting stock ready for sale and on the shop floor, where she particularly enjoys having conversations with customers.

Trina said: “Retiring after over 40 years as a teacher was a huge change, but volunteering at the shop helped to fill a little hole.

“My children are all grown up and living around the country and world, so with no family to run around after, volunteering at the shop fulfils me in the areas I was missing – meeting people and being hands-on with something.

“I’ve made some fabulous friends of all ages and backgrounds through my volunteer work with St Oswald’s.

“The team at the shop are like a huge family and we have a strong support system. It is a lovely place to spend my time, it doesn’t feel like work.

“We often hear customers’ stories of how their families have benefitted from the angels at the hospice.

“A lot of our customers just like to come in for chat and we’ve had people from all the UK and abroad, even Australia – their comments included how wonderful the shop is and that they don’t have anything like it back home.

“Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find something to suit you by volunteering at a St Oswald’s charity shop and whatever you put in, you’ll get back tenfold.”

The charity’s wider retail volunteer team includes van driver assistants, e-commerce, maintenance, and administrative assistants, with all areas in urgent need of more help.

After speaking so enthusiastically about her own volunteering experience at home, Trina’s husband John decided to volunteer as a van driver assistant.

St Oswald’s retail area manager, Susan Freeman, said the charity created the Retail Volunteer Recruitment Week as a way to engage with the public face-to-face and bring volunteering to life in a fun way.

She added: “While potential volunteers might think we only want people that can dedicate a lot of time, this isn’t the case.

“We have a lot of volunteers that help out a couple of morning shifts a week, or an afternoon a week. Even just a few hours here and there really helps.”

For more information about the volunteering opportunities available at St Oswald’s shops and retail services, visit www.stoswaldsuk.org/volunteer or call the retail helpdesk on 0191 2469071.