Karen Mills, 56, began volunteering in the Manningtree shop in January 2015. Having worked as a Receptionist in the local doctor’s, Karen loves meeting people and admits to loving recycling too so she thought that by working at St Elizabeth Hospice, she could put both elements together.
The seeds were sown when a friend of hers lost her husband who was cared for by St Elizabeth Hospice and Karen became interested in the work of the Hospice and the support it provides.
Karen said: “Without charities like the Hospice, where would we be? How would patients and their loved-ones be supported?”
Karen volunteers for one day a week. For her, volunteering means giving back to the community which is an ethos so well embedded in the work of St Elizabeth Hospice. She found that her Induction day really helped her to understand the vision and goal of the organisation.
“Having seen on the Induction day, the facilities provided at the Hospice, I think they are incredible! The nurses are inspirational and the care and compassion is evident.
“I was very impressed at how welcoming the Inpatient Unit is and even though I have not had a strong emotional tie to the Hospice, as others who have had a personal involvement do, I can see what a worthwhile cause it is.”
Karen never loses sight of this cause when working in the shop; she is keen to encourage people to return and finds that many do so. Gone is the ‘musty smell’ of charity shops in the past, she often finds brand new items being donated with the labels still attached.
Karen says: “Using the charity shops has become trendy again; I keep my eye out for interesting clothes for my husband who can sometimes be persuaded to come in.
Karen is surprised by the speed of the shop’s turn-around of stock.
“A donation can come in, be sorted, tagged, steam-cleaned and sold all in the space of a day. This happened recently with a really nice-quality coat which was brought in and sold within the hour!
Karen is very much enjoying her new venture and likes the way it is convenient, professionally-run and the flexibility of her volunteer-role, which enables her to be as involved as she would like to and has time to be.