More than 1,500 volunteers generously give their time to support Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice.
These volunteers provide support in many ways, including working in either of the two Zest retail shops, in Colchester and Ipswich, or by working alongside Zest staff in supporting young adults at X-Change evenings and weekend drop in sessions.
One Zest volunteer is 15-year-old Roma Manteiga-Nicholson, who began volunteering at the Zest shop in Ipswich in 2020.
“I have volunteered at Zest for over a year now, although currently I’m not volunteering as I am studying for my GCSEs but I cannot wait to be back in the Zest shop in June once my exams are finished,” said Roma.
“In the past I volunteered every Saturday and an extra day during the week in the school holidays. I love volunteering at Zest as it offers a great experience of retail work and the chance to meet people. Also it’s very rewarding, as you know your help is supporting a good cause and it has boosted my self-confidence to interact with new people.”
Roma is a familiar face to many in the Ipswich area through her passion for live singing and for supporting many local charities with her fundraising activities. Since 2017, she has chosen two charities a year to fundraise for, including Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice, raising more than £17,500 for her chosen good causes.
It was through her passion for singing and via a family friend, who volunteers at St Elizabeth Hospice, that her connection to the independent Suffolk charity developed.
“A family friend of ours volunteers at St Elizabeth Hospice on reception and they told me so many good things about the hospice’s work,” explained Roma.
“While during St Elizabeth Hospice’s Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk 2019, I busked around all 55 of the art trail statues in one day and these two experiences inspired me to find out more about how I could help the hospice.
“After this I learnt about the Zest young adult service and the Zest shop. I was so excited when I started fundraising for them that I just had to volunteer at the shop. I’ve even managed to pick up some great clothes bargains and I’ve convinced my mum to use the eco cleaning products that the shop sells!”
Volunteering sees supporters donate any amount of time they are able to do so. As part of Roma’s role she often volunteers twice a week at the Zest shop, while still having time to study and enjoy her hobbies such as singing, attending Stagecoach Performing Arts School in Ipswich and spending time with her parents, as well as her two cats and two dogs.
A typical day volunteering for Zest sees Roma helping with opening up the store, pricing items, organising donations, working on tills and working alongside colleagues to develop ideas on how to promote and present the store to the public.
Roma said: “Every day is different but I always start my shift at Zest with a smile and end it with an even bigger smile as it’s so rewarding. It’s just a great experience and a great place to meet people, learn some new skills and boost your confidence.
“The team are all very supportive and make sure every shift is fun. Having these experiences with Zest, while at the same time supporting a service which brings so much comfort and respite to families and patients, is very humbling and special to be a part of.”
To learn more about volunteering opportunities at Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/support-us/support-us/volunteer-for-us/.