Established by St Elizabeth Hospice in 2015, Zest is a scheme which sees the independent Suffolk charity work closely with children’s hospices to ensure young adults have a smooth transition into adult care.
Supporting young adults aged 14 and upwards with progressive and life-limiting illnesses, Zest ensures all the young people, under its care, receive specialist support, tailored treatment and services needed to be able to enjoy life to the full.
Currently more than 40 young people and 124 family members utilise Zest’s services. From its industry unique Short Breaks, which allows young people to take time out from their daily routine and provides vital respite for families, through to its parent support group and monthly X-Change evening social group for patients, Zest enables young adults with challenging conditions to fulfil their aspirations.
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 the Zest retail shop in Ipswich or by working alongside Zest staff in supporting young adults at X-Change evenings and weekend drop-in sessions.
One Zest volunteer is Laura Jefferies, who has been shopping at Zest since it opened in 2018 and began volunteering at the shop in 2021.
“I became a customer at Zest after reading about its opening on social media and being attracted to how bright and vibrant it looked. Zest is just so engaging and aesthetically pleasing and we have lots of customers, who consistently return for more of the Zest experience,” explained Laura, who is from Ipswich.
“I love the shop so much that I became a volunteer and nearly two years on, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel like a part of a community and have acquired new skills, reignited my creativity and most significantly, improved my mental health.
“Every volunteering day at Zest is different. I tend to volunteer one full day a week and help out on the tills, research which items would be suited for eBay or Depop, replenish stock and assist the team with pricing and steaming of clothes.
“I love the shop environment and finding out more about retail and the charity itself. I like being busy and love the teamwork aspect also. Speaking with regular customers and getting to know them is great and it is also very rewarding seeing an outfit that I have planned and put on the mannequin, being purchased on the same day.
“I really enjoying using my creative skills to create visually appealing displays of homeware and accessories and utilise my knowledge of current trends to dress the mannequins to attract customers. Volunteering days are busy but they are always full of cups of coffee and treats, and I never want to go home!
“You see so many amazing items in the shop but I would have to say my favourite was a limited edition sequined slip dress from Zara – it was just stunning. Zest is such an important part of the high-street and it has become such an institution in Ipswich.
“I have relatives who have worked or volunteered at St Elizabeth Hospice itself and the work they do in supporting people and giving them their dignity, during difficult times in their lives, is so important.
“If the funds raised from Zest and the other hospice charity shops help to give people and their loved ones a better quality of life, then I am proud to be a part of that and help in any way I can
“I have made very important friendships in the shop with the management team and other volunteers. We have Zest outings, which are always good fun and the confidence and support they have given me and the other volunteers is second to none.
“The management team are truly wonderful individuals who have inspired passion and a need to make positive changes in my life, I really would recommend volunteering at Zest to everyone.”
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/