Debbie, 60, has been volunteering in the Cullompton Hospiscare shop for two years.
“My mum always volunteered or helped out in the community in some way when I was younger, so I’ve always felt it’s just something you should do if you are able to. I’ve always tried to give something back throughout my life and I wanted to do the same after I moved to Cullompton.”
When Debbie lived in Essex, she volunteered with the Riding for the Disabled Association. She helped to support children riding ponies, but when she moved to Devon, she found RDA needed volunteers to help adults experience riding horses. She felt she did not have the physical strength to be able to help with this so decided she had to find another way to volunteer.
Debbie explains how she started looking for somewhere to volunteer. “I was walking through town and saw the shop. It looked clean, tidy and well-presented so I went inside and followed the ‘We need volunteer’ dots on the floor to the till and signed up.
“I volunteer my time on Thursday mornings and I’m also an ‘emergency helper outer’ when the shop needs some extra help.
“I can only do four hours because of my health,” Debbie explains, “but I love it when I’m here. I love being on the shop floor, selling to customers, signing up new Gift Aiders, recruiting new volunteers, putting out new stock, even tidying and cleaning to make sure the shop looks nice and clean when people come in.
“Every Thursday when I start my shift, I do a quick walk around the shop to see what’s new. The stock in the shops changes very quickly, so by checking out what we have I can help customers find what they are looking for. A customer came in last week to purchase some size 8 shoes. She explained that she has such trouble finding shoes in that size. I was able to point out another pair that we had in the same size and she ended up buying them both!
“I have experience working in sales so I understand how retail works. I love putting my skills to good use in the shop.
“Volunteering makes me feel better in myself. I feel like I am doing something worthwhile. I have always volunteered doing something so I’m pleased to have found something I enjoy this much so close to where I live.
“I feel like a real part of the community. People recognise me from the shop and I try to get other parts of the community involved with Hospiscare too. I bring donations in from my neighbours to sell in the shop.
“Although I have no personal connections to the hospice, everyone who comes into the shop who has had experience of Hospiscare thinks the charity is awesome. It feels good to be supporting a good cause.
“Volunteering in the shop is so much fun. Everyone is lovely; Amy, the shop manager is the best! It’s such a brilliant shop.”
Shop manager Amy says “I’m incredibly lucky to have such wonderful volunteers. Debbie is a real help; she works so hard when she’s here and she’s very skilled at helping our customers out on the shop floor.
“If you are thinking about giving volunteering a try, please come and talk to us! There are plenty of different things to do. It really is a blast!”
Hospiscare is a local adult hospice charity, providing high quality care and support to people with any type of terminal illness, and those close to them, in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. A gift to Hospiscare in your Will helps to ensure the future of the charity in Devon for generations to come.