Do you want to become a volunteer in 2021? St Catherine's is looking for motivated individuals to volunteer their help in the trading department. Below, five volunteers in our Rowfant donations warehouse have shared their own experiences of volunteering and why they encourage you to do the same.
Richard, from Crawley, started volunteering for us last year after being furloughed and made redundant from his full-time job in the travel industry. Describing more about his background, he said: "I've worked in travel for the whole of my working life. I've worked for some of the best travel companies, one for 11 years and another for 18 years. I've only ever done that, it's a fantastic industry to be in and I did love my job. I was furloughed on the 1st April 2020 and I haven't worked since, and I was made redundant in December. Volunteering has always been at the back of my mind, but like a lot of people, I always felt like I never had the time to do something. I also never fully understood how simple it was to give some time and make a difference. Being furloughed gave me a bit more perspective on what makes me feel good and I needed to find something that gave me more purpose. I struggle to sit indoors all day and just listen to my own thoughts, so not only is this volunteering role helping the hospice, it's also helping me.
I struggled a lot during lockdown.
I didn't want to go out. I didn't want to use the hour of exercise, I wasn't even taking a walk, I was just staying indoors for the whole time. I was getting to the point where I was sitting around doing nothing, it was quite soul destroying. This has given me a lot, as well as me being able to give something back. It was extremely unhealthy for me staying indoors all the time, and volunteering has helped my mental state enormously. I really look forward to coming here, it gives me some structure to my week and I look forward to catching up with the other volunteers. I've met some great people whilst doing this who I now consider my good friends. One of the things that makes it easier is that there's quite a lot of comradery here, we help each other get through each day.
You don't realise how rewarding volunteering can be until you just get out there and do it.
It's not a difficult role either, it's easy to do and you can work at your own pace. There's no pressure from anyone and there are many rewarding benefits. It feels really good at the end of each day to know that you've done something to make a difference and that you're contributing to a local charity who needs all the help it can get. I would recommend volunteering to people of all ages, particularly those that have been furloughed, are in between jobs, or not working at all, as it keeps you active and helps your mind to stay ticking over. It's easy to be out of work and fall into the trap of thinking negatively, but this doesn't take up a huge amount of time and it can give you that extra bit of motivation to keep going. I only do 10 hours a week, but even if somebody only does one morning a week, it can make a huge difference. I think many people have the perception that volunteering is only for the older generation, people who are retired or have more time on their hands. But we're living in completely different times now. I think people also worry about how much they can commit to volunteering, but it's hugely flexible around you and any other commitments you may have. People are grateful for whatever help you can give.
It makes you feel like you're actually contributing something and making a huge difference.
I always think that it may only be a part-time volunteering role, but the impact that it has on St Catherine's makes a great difference. If we can get enough stock out to our shops that is sellable, every penny counts."
Kevin, also from Crawley, started volunteering in our warehouse two years ago after retiring from his job in the banking industry. Describing more about his experience, he said:
"Like a lot of people who retire, I knew that I needed to still do something.
I always knew I wanted to volunteer and two years ago I decided to join St Catherine's. I knew all about the hospice as it's very local to me, I saw an advertisement for volunteers at the warehouse to sort through donations and since starting I have loved every minute of it. That's why two years on I'm still here.
I tell everyone what I do, many people ask "Why do you do that?" and I say "Because it's great, I'm making a difference to my local community and my local charity, and I just love it." Volunteering here is lovely. The people are great, we all have a good laugh together and we work hard as a team to get on with what needs to be done.
It's also great to be getting out of the house every week and to do something for a great cause.
Every day is different here because you get different things coming in. We have a laugh when funny things come in and we love it when we find some hidden gems, we find silver ware, brand new designer handbags, shoes, all sorts! I would recommend everyone who wants to do volunteering to just try it. Come and spend a session with us, meet the team and see what we do."
Good friends, Carol and Joyce, are also part of our volunteering team at Rowfant and worked together in finance before volunteering at St Catherine's.
Joyce: "I would really miss it if I didn't do it.
Volunteering here really helps me as it gets me out of the house, and I feel very lucky to be volunteering for a local cause and helping people in my community. After my husband passed away, I knew that I needed to do something, so I decided to take up volunteering. I've volunteered at other places before St Catherine's, but it's so much different here than anywhere else I've been. You're not just a number, they know your name and you feel as if you're part of something.
I would recommend everyone to try volunteering at some point in their life.
Whatever you're doing as a volunteer really helps the charity in many ways. It may just seem like we're sorting out donated items, but the bigger picture is that we're helping to raise money for the hospice."
Carol: "It's nice to be able to come somewhere and talk to other people.
When you're by yourself for so long you have to make sure you're getting out and doing things to stay occupied, and volunteering is a perfect way of doing that. A few years ago, I had a friend who was in St Catherine's who was well looked after. I said to myself that when I did have some extra time to spare that I would volunteer for St Catherine's. A local group started in our area, the Friends of Crawley Down, so I started in that initially, and it was from there that someone asked me if I wanted to come and work in the warehouse. I've loved it ever since."
Sarah, who also works in the travel industry in London, became a volunteer after she was furloughed due to Covid-19.
"Being furloughed started to have a big effect on my mental wellbeing, so this opportunity came at the right time for me.
There must be so many people out there that are in the same boat as me or somebody that just wants to fill some time whilst they look for work. I've also volunteered at the St Catherine's Dragon Boat event which I loved, it was so much fun and I would recommend it to everyone, there is always something you can do as a volunteer. My nan was cared for by St Catherine's and some of my family and friends have had relatives there too, so I do have some connection to the hospice. But volunteering like this has never been something that I thought about doing due to working full-time.
I get a sense of achievement from volunteering for St Catherine's.
When I see all of the things that people have donated and know that they're going to be going to a shop to help raise money, it makes me feel very proud to be a part of that. This opportunity came at the right time for me and it's really helped me.
I would recommend everyone to give volunteering a go because you don't know until you've tried.
It makes you feel really proud to do something for somebody else, especially during the difficult times that we're currently in, and I'm sure volunteering will give you that feeling too. Charity shops need to be there, not just for the hospice but for everyone in the community who needs them."
Would you like to be part of our volunteering team? Please visit www.stch.org.uk/volunteer/ or call the Volunteering Team on 01293 447351 to find out more.
Due to the new lockdown restrictions, our shops, including the Rowfant donation centre, have temporarily closed. Volunteers will still be processed during this time and will be able to start as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted.